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Facebook Lead Gen Ads: Pros, Cons, and Advancements

Published: June 28, 2016

Author: Molly McCarty

In October, Facebook announced the launch of Lead Ads. Initially, this ad unit was only available on mobile News Feed. It allows advertisers to quickly gather emails, phone numbers, names, and more from users within their target audience.
The ad unit functions like most other News Feed ads. The ad appears in the user’s feed; the user clicks on the ad. At this point, a form appears within Facebook. It is important to note that the user never has to leave Facebook in order to submit a lead. Any information within the form that Facebook has access to will autopopulate (name, email, birthdate, etc.). There are over 20 pre-made fields that the advertiser can add to their form. On top of that, the user can add up to 3 custom fields to the form.
In this post, we’ll talk about lead gen results and why they’re not as great as they seem on first blush…then we’ll cover what Facebook’s doing to help remedy that.

Lead Gen Ads Results

What kind of results have we seen from the lead gen ad unit? In terms of cost per lead, the lead gen ad unit brings CPL down by over 50% in most tests. For three of our larger clients (who were looking for more user information than just email address), we tested the lead gen ad versus the standard link post.
The data below is from three different accounts. One focuses on home renovations, one focuses on applying for jobs, and one focuses on signing up for a medical treatment. As you can imagine, the cost per lead for these different actions is quite expensive.
We learned that the lead gen ad unit had a 74% higher conversion rate and a 56% lower cost per lead. As any advertiser would be, we were ecstatic about these results. We began to shift budget away from link posts and towards lead ads. We were hesitant to do so, however, until we heard back on the quality of these leads.

Downsides of Lead Gen Ads

While we waited to hear about the quality of the leads this unit was producing, we began discussing the downsides of using the lead ad:

  1. Lead quality is likely to be down (but we did not know by how much) because there is less intent and the user may not fully understand what they are signing up for.
  2. We are unable to create WCA lists from the lead gen ad. Since the user never continues on to the site, we are unable to create a WCA list from users who are interested in the product but are unable to complete the form at that time. Note: that downside is no more thanks to this release!

After communicating with clients, we discovered that the quality of the leads was worse than we were expecting. Many of the users were unaware they had signed up to be contacted and therefore were upset to receive a call from these brands. We quickly turned down and eventually turned off spend on our acquisition lead ads and switched back to the link post ad unit.

Facebook’s Efforts to Improve Lead Quality

We are not alone in our experience with these ad units. Facebook is also well aware of these problems and they are acting fast to solve as many of them as they can. Here is what has become available for lead ads since the launch of the ad unit:

  1. Lead Gen Ad with Context Card: The context card improved lead quality by 22% for TheSkimm (source: Facebook). After the user clicks on the ad in their News Feed, they receive a window before the form that explains more about the brand and what they are signing up for. Once they read through the card, they continue on to the form.
  2. Lead Gen Ad with Continued Flow: Continued Flow is similar to a microsite that appears after a user clicks on the ad. It has the same benefits as the context card but can include images and video.
  3. Desktop Lead Ads: Lead ads initially only launched on mobile. Desktop lead ads work well for more complex forms that require the user to fill in more than a few seconds’ worth of information. At the end of the lead ad unit, there is an opportunity to continue to the site. If the site is not mobile-friendly, we recommend using desktop lead ads.
  4. Complete Later on Desktop: This allows the advertiser to take advantage of the lower mobile CPCs and higher engagement rates but also gives the user the opportunity to complete the form later on desktop.

As always, we’d recommend running some tests before deciding how much budget to invest in these. And keep an eye out for more ad improvements, since Facebook usually doesn’t let a known issue sit unaddressed very long.

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