One of the most common objectives of Facebook ads is increasing brand awareness, and the social network’s marketing science team enlisted the help of more than 700 users from all around the world to evaluate more than 1,500 News Feed ads between October 2013 and this past March, from more than 350 campaigns. Advertising Researchers Neha Bhargava and Eurry Kim discussed their findings in a post on the Facebook for Business page.
Bhargava said the ads were rated using the following seven key creative elements:
- Focal point: The image has one obvious focal point.
- Brand link: How easy is it to identify the advertiser?
- Brand personality: How well does the ad fit with what you know about the brand?
- Informational reward: Does the ad have interesting information?
- Emotional reward: The ad appeals to you emotionally.
- Noticeability: While browsing online, this image would grab your attention.
- Call to action: This ad urges you to take a clear action.
Kim wrote of their findings:
This research revealed that ads from brand advertisers scored higher than average on “brand link,” “emotional reward” (“the ad appeals to you emotionally”), and “noticeability” (“while browsing online, this image would grab your attention”). It seems obvious to say, but when brand advertisers are trying to convey their brand, they need a clear link back to the brand. But that link alone isn’t enough. Ads need to resonate with consumers, so an element of “emotional reward” or “noticeability” helps to convey more than just the brand.
Bud Light ran a campaign in 2012 that had prominent product placement, with its iconic bottle featured in the ad. These ads scored more than 1.5 times higher than the average in both “brand link” and “noticeability.” And we know from a separate case study that the campaign in which these ads were featured was successful in driving in-store sales. We also found that, in general, the best-performing Facebook campaigns had “well-rounded” creative, or rated highly on nearly all of the creative elements.
Kim also offered the following best practices:
Based on this research, conveying a clear brand story is really important, so a clear “brand link” is key. A brand logo — or, in Bud Light’s case, iconic packaging — works well here. When developing online creative, a brand should know what it represents and know to leverage existing brand awareness. When it comes to “brand personality,” it’s really important that a brand understands who its consumers are and communicates with them consistently through their creative.
One consumer-packaged-goods ad that we rated for this research lacked this brand connection, and the results suffered. The ad featured an engaging, people-focused image, but the ad copy and the image weren’t clearly related to the brand. If you saw the image from the ad, you’d have no clear idea of what brand or industry the ad came from. The creative ended up scoring 30 percent less than average in both “brand link” and “brand personality.” The sole element for which the creative scored higher than average was emotional reward. But that’s probably because of the excited expressions of the people in the image.
What are the next steps in this research project? Bhargava wrote:
We’d ultimately like to provide advertisers and other researchers with tools that can help them make the most effective ads at driving business results. As part of this and other research at Facebook, we’d like to eventually provide guidelines for advertisers to understand conceptually what makes good digital ads. And we want to provide benchmarks so that advertisers know how their ads are doing compared to other ads in their vertical.
Readers: What did you think of this study?