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Facebook Advertising Improvements, Oct. 2013 to Present

Published: February 27, 2014

Author: Andrew Foxwell

Since October 1st, 2013, the Facebook ads platform has introduced many positive changes. In this blog post, I’ll define what the changes are and why they matter to advertisers. (Note: these are listed in chronological order and not order of importance.)


Buckle up…

Objective-Based Ad Buying

• Advertisers can now select specific advertising objectives more easily with a suggested ad unit, then automatically create optimization specs for each advertisement.
• UX for advertising results has been revamped. For example, if you launch an ad for conversions, the platform will show the conversions and the cost per conversion.

Why It Matters

• Objective-based ad buying is an important step for Facebook, making it easier for all advertisers to clearly define what they want to do. Facebook is proving that they now fully accept and understand how and why advertisers are using their product.

Page Insight Redesign

• People Talking About This (PTAT) metric has been split into 4 separate elements: Page Likes, People Engaged, Page Tags and Mentions, Page Check-ins and Other Interactions.
• Created a more descriptive positive and negative interaction postcard.

Why It Matters

• Clarifies and defines various Facebook Page Insights.
• Helps differentiate between who’s actually engaged and who you’ve reached.

Custom Audiences Now Available to All Advertisers

• You can now upload an email list for Facebook Custom Audiences targeting using a data file, or you can connect your company’s Mail Chimp account directly in the Self-Serve Ad area.
• This improvement includes Look-Alike Audience creation.

Why It Matters

• Previously, Facebook Custom Audiences were only available to Power Editor or API users.

Multiple Changes to Facebook Pages

• Post scheduling design update, giving you a calendar for easy scheduling
• Post Shares now showing in Page Notifications, which is great because shares organically amplify your reach significantly.
• 5-star ratings under cover photos for Facebook Places. Don’t worry about it too much, but 5-star ratings are now front and center if you’ve setup your Facebook page as a place.
• Link Share preview now full-size, giving you the ability to see what your post will actually look like in the News Feed.
• Real-time insight data instead of two days delayed!

Why It Matters

• Updated UX designs and notifications are clearer, more succinct, and easier to use

Sidebar Ads Renaissance

• This is not a public change, but with News Feed competition ramping up, Facebook quietly began to enhance sidebar ad placement, inserting sidebar ads in photo viewing and other locations
• Throughout the holidays and even now, the News Feed oCPM pricing is roughly $5+ and the Sidebar oCPM pricing hovers around.50 to .80.

Why It Matters

• Regardless of blogosphere hype about never doing right-hand side ads ever again, including when I said RHS ads were going away, these changes prove that every Facebook ad feature should always be tested multiple times to ensure the best results

Auto-Play Video Ads

• When a targeted user scrolls through his/her News Feed, a 15-second video advertisement will automatically play without sound, unless the user hovers and/or clicks on the ad. This change is the same for mobile users as well as desktop users.
• Facebook adjusted their algorithm to show more videos, and as a result, more videos are showing from your friends as well. Therefore, videos as ads seem less surprising and more relatable.

Why It Matters

• Video is becoming increasingly important for brands to create a more interactive online experience.
• Facebook management knows that users prefer more interactive experiences, so video will continue to be rewarded.

Organic Reach is Diminishing

• Facebook admitted in a November sales PDF that organic reach is going to drop due to the increased competition within the News Feed.
• Previously, 25-50% of your total audience saw each organic posting (not paid) and now only 15-20% view the posting, depending on content type.

Why It Matters

• Facebook is adjusting organic reach because their goal is to show your content to the people who are most likely to want to see it.
• Encourages paid advertising to ensure full reach and maximum exposure for every post.

Custom Audiences Connection to Offline Sales

• Advertisers can now upload their customer databases, as well as encrypted transaction information, into the Facebook Ads platform
• Facebook then matches the retailer’s data to Facebook’s own historical data of who saw the advertisements, therefore creating clear linkages between ads and in-store (offline) sales

Why It Matters

• Facebook has continually argued that their product influences online as well as offline sales for brick and mortar stores
• This update is Facebook’s first real attempt in proving this concept

So what’s next?

Facebook recently released a developers roadmap giving us insights into what they are planning for release in the next few months. Some of these aren’t that big of a deal, but some are huge. Even since I put this data together, Facebook has released Website Custom Audiences, which is a pixel much like FBX but made and owned by Facebook. It allows for perfect retargeting and all your campaigns are in Facebook.

Here are some of the other anticipated changes:

Elimination of Sponsored Stories
-Previously never got traction; each ad features a social context
Automatic ad image cropping
-No longer time consuming image modification for each ad unit
Change from OR targeting to AND targeting
-Combines your criteria to ensure you reach precisely who you want
Unified Interests
-Changing from ‘soccer’ to #soccer
Geographic Exclusion Targeting
-Can add as well as now exclude various locations
Behavioral targeting based on purchase history
-Also modifications to relationship types and recent life events
Look for more insights to come on FBPPC as these releases drop!

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