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Facebook advertising heading into Q4: a high-level primer

Published: August 30, 2016

Author: Lindsey Doherty

Let’s say you’ve got 15 minutes of a new client’s time, and you’re trying to convince the client why Facebook advertising is no longer just a good idea to test; it’s a marketing necessity. Here’s a high-level primer we recently prepared to get a new client up to speed, starting with Facebook advertising’s benefits and moving through objectives, ad options (placements, creative options, and ad types), and targeting options. We’re just about a month from Q4; what better time to brush up?

Benefits of Facebook Advertising

It’s massive: According to Facebook, there are 1 billion daily active users as of March 2016.
989 million of those users are daily active mobile users. 64% of Facebook users visit the site every day. Chances are, the customers you’re trying to reach are using Facebook.
It’s efficient: Facebook offers the ability to fine-tune your targeting, harness the strength of a robust social algorithm, and choose your bidding options so that you’re paying the right price to reach the right user at the right time.
It’s versatile: Though it’s not as intent-driven as search, it can still be used as a customer acquisition tool, as well as a great place to create brand awareness.
It’s mobile: Facebook’s advertising options include Instagram’s 500 million users, who access the app only through mobile devices. And recent studies, including this VentureBeat report from April 2016, show that over half of Facebook’s users access the platform exclusively on mobile.

Possible Facebook Advertising Objectives

Before we get too deep into ad unit details, here are some of the marketing objectives that Facebook can help you achieve:

  • Get more people to visit your website
  • Drive website conversions
  • Increase recognition and brand awareness
  • Drive awareness of your company’s Facebook page
  • Get more people to like your Facebook page
  • Get more people to download your app

Types of Facebook Ad Units

Facebook Ad Placement

Within the Facebook ecosystem, there are multiple ad placements, which include:

  • Desktop News Feed
  • Right Column
  • Mobile News Feed
  • Instagram Mobile

Each placement can have different results and costs based on the objective and the audience.

Creative Types

Once the ad placement is chosen, there are a few different kinds of creative to choose from:

  • Static Image
  • Image Carousel (below)
  • Single Video
  • Video Carousel

As with ad placements, the type of creative chosen can affect results and total costs, and can work better with different audiences.

Ad Types

1.     Click to Website Ads

Type: Direct Response
Works Best When: You’re trying to get a lot of clicks to a page on your website.
Bidding Is Optimized for: The greatest amount of users most likely to click on an ad who meet your targeting guidelines.
Metric(s) We Measure: Cost per Click (CPC), Click-through Rate (CTR).

2. Website Conversion Ads

Type: Direct Response
Works Best When: You want users to take an action on your site (form fill, sign up, etc.).
Bidding Is Optimized for: People who are likely to convert from an ad. A critical mass of conversion volume is necessary within the first 24-48 hours of the ad launch, otherwise Facebook cannot identify more users who are likely to convert.
Metric(s) We Measure: Cost per Acquisition (CPA), Conversion Rate (CVR).

3. Page Post Engagement Ads

Type: Branding/awareness
Works Best When: You want a piece of content to get a lot of engagement on Facebook.
(Engagement is a like, click, comment, or share.)
Bidding Is Optimized for: People who engage with a lot of content on Facebook.
Metric(s) We Measure: Cost per Engagement (CPE), Engagement Rate, Video Views (if applicable).

4. Page Like Ads

Type: Branding/awareness
Works Best When: You want to increase the number of likes on your Facebook page.
Bidding Is Optimized for: People who Like brand pages on Facebook.
Metric We Measure: Cost per Like (CPL).

5. Video View Ads

Type: Branding/awareness
Works Best When: You want to tell a story about your brand with video, and you want lots of engagement.
Bidding Is Optimized for: People who are likely to watch a video on Facebook.
Metric(s) We Measure: Cost per Video View, Average Length of Video View, Video Engagement Rate.
Video view ads can also be used as an audience-building tool, as Facebook now allows marketers to remarket to users who have viewed a video in an ad.

6. App Install Ads (Mobile only)

Type: Direct Response
Works Best When: You want people to download your app.
Bidding Is Optimized for: People who are likely to download an app on either iOS or Android.
Metric(s) We Measure: Cost per Install (CPI), Conversion Rate (CVR).


1.     Facebook Demographic & Interest Targeting

Based on: Self-reported data from Facebook users and their profiles.
Useful for: Layering onto existing customer lists to narrow down your audience; also useful for campaigns with a broad reach.

2. Lookalike Audiences (LAL)

Based on: You provide Facebook with a list of customers either through email lists or pixel targeting, and Facebook will then generate an audience that is similar to your customers using their algorithm. Lookalike audiences come at different percentage levels, based on the degree of similarity to your original audience (1% is the smallest and most similar audience; 10% is the biggest and least similar).
Useful for: Acquisition campaigns.

3. Website Custom Audiences (WCA)

How It Works: By placing the Facebook pixel on each page of your site, you can then not only track events and actions users take, but also generate an audience based on users who fit a specific profile. For example, you can build a WCA based on people who visited a particular “Thank you” page within the last 180 days. Once your WCA is large enough, you can remarket to them, as well as create a Lookalike Audience that is demographically similar.
Useful for: Remarketing Campaigns. Note that when you set a time frame, WCAs update dynamically.

4. Facebook Partner Audiences

Based on: Data from third-party providers like Experian & Acxiom (agency whitelisting required).
How It Works: Using the Experian Mosaic tool, you tell Experian who you want to reach. Mosaic generates a list of segments most relevant to your target audience. You can then directly select those segments within the Facebook UI. Can be combined with general Facebook interest/demographic targeting (for example, select “Significant Singles” who ALSO live in New England). Outside of Mosaic, you can also select a variety of Experian or Acxiom categories (e.g. “Invested assets over $36,000” for example).
And that’s a good start! We’ve got tons more content on Facebook advertising, including our own how-to guide. Drop a comment if you have any questions…and good luck!

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