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In my last post, I argued that the growth of Facebook is such that marketers can no longer ignore it as a platform. However, I also mentioned that it is much less mature than search marketing, and as such best practice techniques aren’t as well developed.

So in this post I'm sharing my thoughts on how best to use this fast emerging channel most effectively, based on how we see agencies and advertisers using our platform to manage Facebook campaigns.

Cross-reference targeting options when reporting 

The ability to target groups of people on granular levels, such as age, location or even favourite bands naturally brings a wealth of opportunity to marketers. However, ensure you cross-reference these targeting options when reporting.

What we regularly see is that advertisers will find particular combinations of age group, gender, location or any other targeting options that are converting particularly well for them and others that are converting poorly.

When you identify these converting “sweet spots” concentrate your budgets and efforts there whilst removing budget from the poorly converting demographics. In much the same way you would with keywords in search marketing, which brings me on to my next point...

Use search marketers to run your campaign

We regularly see Facebook Advertising campaigns being run by the same people that run online display campaigns. While Facebook Advertising, in my eyes, is a hybrid of online display advertising and search, the skills needed to effectively run campaigns are mostly held by search marketers.

By their very nature, search marketers have the ability to be very granular and numbers focused, that is why you will never see a good search marketer with less than two screens in front of them full of data. They love to get down and dirty with the detail of data driven campaigns, and understand how different creative and targeting has an impact on conversion, which is exactly what Facebook Advertising needs.

Constantly rotate and test ad creative 

Users average over seven hours a month on Facebook, so ads are presented much more regularly than on other platforms. Because of this, it doesn’t take long for users to become “blind” to ad creative. Additionally, if your ad has low click-through rates Facebook may look to serve the ad less than newer ads without performance history.

Rotating creative is important to keep ads fresh and quality scores high. Facebook themselves suggest moving around images and copy every couple of days to encourage clicks. Serving a variety of ads to the same target group can also help you hone in on the messaging and images that make an impact on particular segments and lead to conversions.

Treat Facebook as an extension of your search marketing campaign

As we’ve already identified, Facebook campaigns should be run by search marketers. However, it shouldn’t just be the management; the reporting should also be rolled into the same reporting as search marketing.

Obviously all digital marketing should be considered across channels, but I believe this is particularly prevalent for search and Facebook advertising. I think that Facebook can give personality to search campaigns. It can help you understand who the people clicking on your search adverts are, and why they might be behaving the way they are.

As we’ve already discussed there are also many ways that search can inform your Facebook campaigns. However, one aspect of search I didn’t mention that can impact advertising on the site is Google’s content network, which can really help inform your targeting.

We’ve identified some of the early best practice techniques being adopted by agencies and advertisers when it comes to Facebook Advertising. But remember this is still an immature advertising platform and there is a long way to go in developing best practice.

So stay tuned as I hope to share a lot more over the next year as we start to learn more about how best to exploit the potential of Facebook’s advertising platform.

Ed Stevenson

Published 23 September, 2010 by Ed Stevenson

Ed Stevenson is Managing Director (Europe) of Marin Software, a paid search technology firm, and a contributor to Econsultancy. He also writes the Big Search blog. 

20 more posts from this author

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Ian

Great, informative post, and just what I needed at this time. Thanks!

about 6 years ago

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Nick

do you have any more info on the facebook quality score and ad rotation? it's all abit black box at present with fb 

They've also discontinued their conversion tracking beta which is a step backwards

Nick

about 6 years ago

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Kayleigh @ WMpS

I agree with Nick - anyone have an idea why they are discontinuing conversion tracking beta? For the majority of facebook advertisers that measure performance based on ROI, this is a massive pitfall.

Kayleigh

about 6 years ago

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Simon Gornick

Very interesting post. I'm focusing heavily on FB advertising because my gut tells me that it's a great fit for my focus on small business and entrepreneurship, but as you suggest, it is - as yet - still a work in progress. Which reminds me, I'd better go in and shift the ad creative, again!

about 6 years ago

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Stacy

Very interesting and some great points made, really, thank you for sharing.

about 6 years ago

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Tommy Walker

One of the things I've found in Facebook advertising is NOT thinking like a search marketer actually does a whole lot better for my Facebook ads.

(let me preface this by saying that I do both Facebook and Search ads)

The problem with thinking like a search marketer is the difference between how search ads and Facebook ads are targeted.

See search ads are targeted by what a person is actively searching for while Facebook ads are targeted mainly what's in their "interests and likes" section. 

This represents two different states of mind in the potential "Ad seers" state of mind. 

When a person sees a search ad, they're in an active search mode. They are looking for something and expecting to get a result, which means if you've got a large net with thin mesh (granular searches) than you'll be able to capture that person and hopefully convert them once they come to your site. 

Facebook however, ads are displayed in the side bar at all times pretty much everywhere you are on the site. On a business page, on your friends page, when you're in a group... etc. 

Facebook users are in a casual state of mind.

Which means when you're running your ads, to be more successful you need to ask yourself questions like "what books does my ideal customer read?" "what television shows do they watch?" "what kinds of movies appeal to them" 

It's not as direct as search ads. But it can be more effective. 

Say your ad is pointed at your Page, and the person clicks, and "likes" your page, it's a softer version of them clicking "subscribe" to your email list, they're giving you permission to communicate with them. That is their signal to you that they want to trust you. And we know that trust is the number one factor in internet marketing.

If you've angled your messaging to be in line with what's in their profile interests and not with the "click here for more information" they're going to be a million times more receptive than if you were to treat your Facebook ads like search ads. 

almost 6 years ago

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Danielle Uskovic

This is really helpful advice. Using search marketers for FB advertising makes sense. After reading this, I'm going to recommend that our creative is changed every few days.

almost 6 years ago

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Ben Collison

Been running my own Facebook page for a while and have seen the results in the last few months. I was pretty skeptical about the whole idea seeing it as a waste of time, but results show!! Great post by the way with some good FB tips i'd not thought of.

almost 6 years ago

Ashley Friedlein

Ashley Friedlein, Founder, Econsultancy & President, Centaur Marketing at Econsultancy, Centaur MarketingStaff

Great post Ed. For a while now I've been saying that the evolution of online display advertising (including APIs from the likes of Facebook) is great news for search marketers as they can bring their models, metrics, thinking to the world of display.

It's great news potentially for niche and/or B2B advertisers who historically have been doing PPC but have been somewhat locked out of the world of display because of the required buying volumes, need for an agency etc. 

We're absolutely looking into how we can apply PPC thinking to display advertising on the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Slideshare etc.

almost 6 years ago

Ed Stevenson

Ed Stevenson, Managing Director - Europe at Marin Software

Thanks for all the comments folks and glad these tips are useful. I will be delving further into this theme soon to address both the similarities between Facebook advertising and Search but also the clear differences like Tommy Walker mentions above. To Ashley's point, the opportunity this presents to B2B & niche advertisers is very real, however, we still face the age old problem of how to scale these activities profitably. If done correctly Facebook campaigns provide demographic and behavioral insights that can be leveraged across other media channels. This is when things get really exciting! Please do let me know if there are any other areas of interest as I would be very happy to address them too. Best Ed

almost 6 years ago

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Craig McGregor

Great post Ed, and insightful comments Tommy. You're both right. search disciplines are useful for targeting (like media planning of old) while display skills are vital for impact (creativity). A blend of techniques, as usual...

almost 6 years ago

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Kris Adams

Ah cool :)

Facebook is trying to be google, in the sense that it also wants to take over the internet, and then the world.

Advertising on facebook is a superb idea. Thanks for the post.

almost 6 years ago

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Kathy Prince

I started using Facebook Shop Now feature.  I am getting hits...

almost 6 years ago

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vid

Your post is really a great help. At the same time, I read everybody's comment too. I think what Tommy said is also sinking in my head too. Because I am newbie and still learning facebook ads. So, I would say it really help me a lot to understand. Looking forward to get more info.

Thanks

almost 6 years ago

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Guy Manningham

One thing we've found is that by targeting our Facebook fans with ads linking to our site, we increase our conversion rate by almost 700% than if we were to target non-fans. Of course, you want to reach new customers, but it's good to also retain your current ones. What are your views on Sponsored Stories?

almost 4 years ago

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