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A friend of mine with a new app-fronted business was recently waxing lyrical about Facebook advertising.

He told me it was great value for money when targeting users with a call-to-action to download his app, especially when users are in a specific location on their mobiles.

I've also heard lots of people talking about the power of targeting audiences on Facebook, either from a standing start or by uploading your own data and spreading out from there.

Due to the fact that it's still difficult to track users across different devices, Facebook's advertising is gaining prominence. The network is accessed on mobile by the overwhelming majority of its subscribers.

In this post I thought I'd give a brief overview of ad formats and targeting, as well as some insight into where the platform is going and how to succeed.


There have been some great posts on the Econsultancy blog discussing the changing state of Facebook and the reach of organic and promoted content, as well as the options available to advertisers.

Edwyn Raine recently wrote 'the combination of a variety of advert formats and a highly affordable media network make it gold dust to reach new customers.' Essentially it's a good way to educate potential customers as to your offering.

Pricing is a particular bonus of Facebook advertising as Facebook's model is to promote good content that customers are interested in. That means, the better your ads perform, the higher click-through rate, and the lower the CPC.

Add to this increasing costs in the uber -competitive AdWords and Facebook is tempting lots of people in to play. First quarter results saw Facebook's profits at $642m. As you can see from the chart below, ads are Facebook. 

facebook advertising revenue

Edwyn went further in his piece:

On occasions I have witnessed Facebook CPCs as low as one pence, but regardless of specific figures, if you are able to reduce your click costs, you will reduce your CPA.

The background to increasing amounts of paid advertising on Facebook is that many feel their organic reach has declined and that community engagement isn't rewarded by Facebook as it once was. Greg Randall writes very eloquently about this and you should check out his post for ways in which retailers can increase organic lift.

Facebook is following Google's model with ad clicks increased by 70% year-on-year, and the revenue increasing by 60%. All the while, Pinterest, Twitter and Tumblr are suffering for lack of a compelling advertising product.

Despite organic reach concerns, Matt Owen points out that the top 1% of pages still reached 82% of their fans. Matt goes on to discuss how Econsultancy uses promoted posts to push content that is already interesting our audience. This seems to be the way to do it.

By embedding posts in Facebook using the network's Power Editor to give more compelling formatting and CTAs, reach increases, cementing Facebook's place as a bonafide publishing platform, where millions of users are interacting with content, either in the walled garden or moving without. 


Advertisers can target by: 

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Interests
  • Lifestyle (e.g. parents)
  • Connections (people who have liked your page) 

One can also target existing audiences by uploading data from your CRM system, allowing companies to go after specific segments on social. For example, a retailer could target lapsed high value customers who perhaps aren't responding to email.

Creating 'Lookalike audiences' lets Facebook find matching audiences in different locations. Perhaps your online store starts shipping in Europe and you want to find audiences there that resemble your UK customers.

The level of information Facebook has about its users is what makes its targeting effective, without the audience-fraud anxiety you may have on some programmatic display networks for example.

Uploading a custom audience

create custom audience facebook

Ad formats

This isn't terribly complicated but I thought some readers might not be aware of the various objectives and placings of Facebook ads. 

Facebook has a useful one-sheeter for those getting to grips with formats and sizing. The ad creator allows you to create multiple versions of ads and then test them.

Page promotion

Ads to encourage people to like your Page.

Liking a Page means a person's friends may see this interest in their feed or in that person's interests. Those that like a Page are more likely to see content and ads from that company in their news feed.

Here's an example ad below. These can appear on desktop (in the news feed or on the right panel) or on mobile.

Page like post on Facebook

Post promotion

You can promote your posts to everyone on Facebook or just your connections. Here's an example from Econsultancy of a promoted post and an organic post. Note the difference in eyeballs.

Here the Facebook Power Editor has been used to format these posts a little snazzier than usual. The 'learn more' button houses a link to the Econsultancy blog and the article in question. Promoted posts can be used to drive traffic to your website but can also can simply be used to push content within the Facebook platform e.g. promoting a campaign video.

One can, of course, use text, photo or video.

facebook post from econsultancy

Domain ads on the right panel

The type of ad most people associate Facebook with and perhaps the ones we are most likely to ignore?

domain ads facebook

Facebook offers

A simple 'get offer' button. People can share this ad with friends who can also take up the offer. 

Here it is on mobile.

facebook - get offer ad 

Driving app usage

The Facebook Ads Create tool can also be used for other calls-to-action and objectives. Driving app downloads and even app re-engagements (changing the CTA to 'use now') is a powerful tool in Facebook ads because of the ability to push the ads through mobile.

Ad for app download in Facebook mobile newsfeed

facebook app download ad in mobile

Event attendance

Like the domain ads, these are only available for the right hand panel of Facebook on desktop. 

Other placements 

Some premium placements are available, such as very prominent and large placement on the logout page.

Ben Davis

Published 29 May, 2014 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is a senior writer at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

856 more posts from this author

Comments (4)


Sandy Johnson

I find that facebook advertising is more of a hit and miss medium. People have such short attention spans of facebook that they dont bother to really focus on your product or service.

over 2 years ago


Justin Belmont, Founder/CEO at Prose Media

Great look at how big advertising really is on Facebook, Ben! Facebook has really become more than a purely social experience, and it's great to get a close look at the power of advertising. Look alike audiences are definitely a great way to spread a brand, and the fact that Facebook can target demographics for ads is definitely useful. With our work at www.ProseMedia.com, we emphasize the important of knowing and engaging your audience - here's a post about that from our blog: http://blog.prosemedia.com/connecting-with-your-audience/

over 2 years ago



Very well written post. Lot of things are very new to me. I find your blog very informative. It will definitely help me with social media optimization. My only concern is what are the other ways to promote a ad without using boost post.

over 2 years ago


Princess Kryslynn, Business Consultant at SMC

A well-articulated article, of course Facebook being a revolutionary social media networking site in years have created an immense scope of visibility for small time businessmen as well as corporates around the world. The Facebook advertisements have proven to be extensively effective and has literally redefined the module of advertising industry – making it integral and integrative both at the same time.

about 1 month ago

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