Using a concept known as “Micro-Targeting,” Facebook’s advertising platform allows you to find almost any audience imaginable. With a combination of demographics, location, interests and behaviors, advertisers can zero in on their target audience with laser-like precision. While some campaigns will naturally be more general and use a blanketed approach, it’s worth understanding just how you can drill down when the time comes to reach your audience.
Create a New Audience
Assuming you’ve done the upfront work of defining your audience and understanding who you’re trying to reach, now you’ll have the chance to show ads to that specific group of people. For starters, you’ll want to pick out your geographic range, keeping in mind that a moderate, focused group of users is better than a large, broad group of users.
For example, an Ad Set targeted at northern states will give you the ability to use seasonality and weather patterns in your creative, whereas referencing the bitter cold of winter in a campaign aimed across the United States is going to fall flat in many areas. You can often zero-in on very specific regions, too, meaning that you can contain your audience to as little as 1 mile around a particular location. There is no perfect way to target geographically, just always make sure you’re keeping the potential audience totals in the middle of the odometer Facebook handily provides during the process.
You can even target based around demographic factors like whether your audience are parents or not; how much money they make; what their house is worth; whether they shop Organic or not. Facebook allows for interest-based targeting around certain Facebook Pages and Groups, populating your audience with people who have shown interest in specific pages or pages related to your targeting parameters (e.g. the official Harry Potter page or ancillary Harry Potter fan pages). However, these interests are rarely as precise you might hope, so never rely on them as much as you might more specific filters like demographics or geography.
Outside of building an audience from a series of geographic and demographic building blocks, you can also use factors like website traffic or Facebook Page engagement to create “Custom Audiences.” Essentially, you’re taking pre-existing behavior from your owned-and-operated properties and turning them into an audience you can then advertise to on Facebook.
For example, if your website’s Facebook Pixel reports that 10,000 people visited your website in the last 90 days, you can create a Custom Audience using that data and “re-target” them with ads on Facebook. In essence, the platform takes that traffic and matches it with email addresses that have been used to create Facebook accounts and then populates your Custom Audience with those matches. Granted, you will likely never hit 100% of that potential audience, but you will be targeting a “warm” audience, regardless.
Custom Audiences require you to have significant website traffic or Facebook Page engagement to populate enough users, so it’s not a tactic you’ll want to use when you’re first getting a new brand off the ground. However, if you’re launching a new product to your existing audience, creating a custom audience based on your most recent web traffic is a powerful way to reach your best potential customer.
LAUNCHING YOUR CAMPAIGN
Once you’ve got your objective and audience dialed in, you’ve got just a few more factors left before you launch your campaign. These two factors are often the most overlooked, but they need to be right before you can begin seeing results: the placement of your ads and the ad creative itself. Let’s dive into how these can affect the overall success of your campaign.
For the longest time, running Facebook ads meant simply dropping a small square image and a few pieces of copy on the right-hand side of the Facebook homepage—a section of the platform very few users tended to engage with. But once Facebook introduced the concept of the “newsfeed” and allowed brands to insert ads into that stream, many new iterations of ad placements followed. There are currently 12 different placements that a campaign can choose from, some being limited by campaign type or objective:
Just on Facebook alone, you have five options to choose from, including the standard Newsfeed and Right Column placement ads, in-stream videos, “instant articles” and suggested videos.
The 2012 acquisition of Instagram made marketers wonder whether the platform would eventually host ads—and they were right to believe this. In addition to Instagram feed ads, brands can now create their own branded “Stories.” These placements do not require your brand to have an active Instagram account, but you’ll find a much greater return on this placement if you do.
- Audience Network
Much like Google’s ad network, Facebook allows you to create ads that will appear on their 3rd party network of sites, giving your ads a reach beyond the platform and onto sites where your audience is already browsing.
The most recent addition to Facebook’s ad platform is the ability to insert ads into the Facebook Messenger experience. Users would either see ads on the homepage of their Messenger screen when they launch the app or in-line with other messages from friends as if they had received communication from the brand itself.
Where you choose to place your ads depends on your objectives, and it will definitely take some experimenting before you figure out what works best for you and your audience. Keep in mind that while Facebook will automatically tailor placements to whatever Objective you choose, you can always add or remove placements if they don’t meet your needs. For example, if your brand does not use Instagram, it would not make much sense to spend ad budget on Instagram placements. Similarly, if the mobile experience on your website isn’t great, you’ll want to stay away from placements that focus on mobile feeds.
Here’s where you’ll flex your creative muscles using a number of of options for ad creative, from video to image carousels. It should be said at the get-go that if your brand has well-produced video assets, use those before any other kind of medium. Facebook video has been shown to generate engagement rates that eclipse images by a whopping 300%. Remember to cut either a 15- or 30-second edit of any video you’re using (your goal here is to get them to engage with your Page or fulfill that Call-To-Action, not watch your video). Also, add captions if possible, as most Facebook videos are watched without sound (Facebook offers a way to generate your own captions once your video is uploaded, but the font and colors won’t be on-brand).
If you don’t have access to great video assets, however, you can still launch a powerful campaign using high-quality imagery. Facebook offers a range of image-based creative formats to fit any need you might have, from a single static image to a rotating carousel of different images. You can even create your own video using up to 10 images and a library of Facebook-curated stock music.
There are a host of guidelines you’ll need to follow to make sure your ads are approved, but perhaps one of the most important is that whatever images you use, make sure they are not covered by more than 20% text. Users (and, consequently, Facebook) find that images with more than 20% text look spam-y and very ad-like, meaning the platform will show those ads to a smaller audience.
ANALYZING YOUR RESULTS
Now that you’ve successfully launched an ad campaign, the important work of analysis and adaptation begins. While you’ll be able to see new results on a daily basis, we recommend letting your campaign run for at least a week or two before making any major adjustments (assuming your campaign is set to run longer than one to two weeks).
Once you have that baseline of data, you’ll be able to determine what’s working and what could use improvement. Perhaps your geographic range is too broad; maybe one piece of creative isn’t generating any clicks. Whatever it might be, you’ll want to keep a close eye on your campaign results.
Fortunately, Facebook provides a treasure trove of data for you to analyze. Starting with the basics like Reach and Impressions, you’ll be able to work your way from the broad into the specific (Click-Through-Rates, Relevancy Scores and more). Using a combination of Excel spreadsheets (you can export virtually all data from Facebook ad campaigns into CSV format) and social media monitoring software, you’ll be able to compile your results into a cogent snapshot of how your ads performed and where you can move forward.
Here are some of the most important metrics to analyze, and what they mean:
The number of Facebook users who saw your ads. This will tell you how much of your estimated audience was shown your ads, which is typically a byproduct of your campaign budget and the ad’s efficacy.
The total number of times your ads were seen. This number is helpful because it can allow you to compare CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions) for social platforms as compared to other elements like a TV spot or a digital banner ad.
- Relevancy Score
This is a 10-point scale that measures how “relevant” those who saw your ad deemed it to be to their interests. This is where targeting and messaging really come into play: the more blanketed and broad your ads are, the more likely your Relevancy Score will suffer.
The measurement of how many users saw your ads versus how many of them actually clicked through to your landing page. Make sure you check out some benchmark CTRs for your industry beforehand to give yourself an idea of what to aim for. Those numbers are helpful, too, when explaining to a client why a 3.5% CTR is a solid return.
Demonstrating how much each action (Like, Click, View) cost is a helpful way of proving the ROI of your campaign. For example, showing that each 15-second video view on your campaign only cost $.35, versus the tremendously more expensive TV placement would’ve cost you, will help solidify the reasons behind your campaign.
So that’s it, folks! You should now have a solid foundation for creating and executing your first Facebook ad campaign. There will be a bit of a learning curve at first, but don’t get discouraged. The platform offers many options you’ll never use, so don’t feel like you have to dive in head-first. The more time you spend with their tools, the more comfortable you’ll become.
Of course, we’re always happy to handle all that stuff for you 😉