OPINION: What marketers need to know about Facebook

Roland Irwin
By Roland Irwin | 20 December 2013
Roland Irwin, general manager and product consultant at Marin Software.

Facebook is changing fast and its vast targeting and measurement options have become complex. Given that the advertising industry is collapsing over the finish line, and it might feel that Armageddon is coming rather than Christmas, learning time is understandably squeezed. So Marin has broken down what's happened with Facebook this year into bite-sized chunks and has some top tips to maximise return on spend in 2014. If anyone has time to read it, there's also a meatier whitepaper here.

2013 advertising trends in brief:

1.) Facebook’s News Feed is the place to advertise – The news feed has become the primary area of focus and engagement for users, creating bright opportunities for advertisers. Marin saw a 140% quarter on quarter increase in news feed advertising in Q3 2013 with 67% lower costs per conversion compared to right-hand side ad placements.

2.) Facebook users love mobile – Mobile adoption among Facebook users skyrocketed in 2013 with 74% of Facebook users now accessing the platform through their mobile devices. This increase in mobile adoption and higher mobile ad click-through rates has changed the way advertisers manage their campaigns. Marin saw the percentage of advertisers running mobile-only campaigns increase 45% between Q2 2013 and Q3 2013.

3.) Facebook users buy from brands they’ve interacted with before – Of all the changes Facebook introduced to its advertising capabilities, perhaps none was more important than Custom Audiences. Custom Audiences makes it possible for any advertiser with a customer list to retarget users who have visited a website. Retargeting customers and prospects through Custom Audiences has produced costs per conversion that are 64% lower than targeting by broad categories or precise interests.

4.) Facebook users want fresh ads – As Facebook advertising has become increasingly competitive, the social network has become strict on showing ads with the highest click-through rates (CTR). To maintain fresh creative and prevent overexposing users to the same ads, Marin has seen a substantial increase in advertisers using creative rotation strategies. On average, advertisers using creative rotation strategies have produced 35% higher CTR than those not using creative rotation, demonstrating that users prefer and are more likely to engage with fresh creative.

Advertising tips for 2014:

Get ad content right – First and foremost, advertisers should ensure that their ad creative follows standard Facebook design best practices. Messages should be short and concise, and specifically tailored for the target audience. To avoid truncation, text should be limited to 90 characters. Images carry the greatest impact and should be chosen wisely. Consider using headshot images of people or close-up pictures of products. For page post ads, text should be just 20% of the overall ad and include social context as well as a website link to maximise conversion rate.

Conduct a frequency analysis to inform creative strategy – Advertisers should aim for frequencies of 1-5 exposures per ad and never expose a user to the same ad more than 10 times. By analysing the relationship between impression volume, CTR, and frequency, advertisers can identify ad fatigue. Sophisticated advertisers use creative rotation services available in an ad management platform to manage ad frequency and maintain consistent CTR and impression volumes.

Use automated creative rotation to improve performance – While manually refreshing campaign creative can help to improve performance, it is difficult to manage at scale across hundreds of campaigns and thousands of pieces of creative.

Need something to read over Christmas? Download a free Facebook marketing whitepaper here.

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