It’s been nearly a decade since Facebook launched its own advertising platform. Since then, the standards governing the platform have changed drastically as has the way brands should be using it. Looking at the state of the platform and precisely how ads are performing now, there are a number of developments that digital marketers should abide by.
Mobile is important, but it definitely isn’t everything
Mobile advertising is still growing on Facebook. Given that Facebook posted $2.4 billion in mobile advertising revenue from Q1 2015 alone, this is impressive. But mobile advertising isn’t driving desktop advertising out. It would be extremely shortsighted to neglect the uses of desktop — which includes very strong ways to drive certain conversions.
This is especially true when we look at the changing ways in which marketers are placing News Feed ads. There are currently three options you can choose from for a News Feed ad: appearing only on desktop News Feeds, appearing only on mobile News Feeds, or appearing on both. Surprisingly, we’ve found that most News Feed ads are in fact desktop-only. At the same time, share of spend on them slowly declining and lower than the other two options.
What does this tell us? The takeaway is that desktop-only ads are becoming cheaper and more valuable because there are more of them but less spent on them. Unfortunately, marketers still spend the most on News Feed ads appearing on both together (50 percent of spend) — the least effective route — instead of specifically targeting to desktop and mobile feeds separately. To be efficient, marketers must regulate their placement strategy and target different ads to different News Feed placements.
Brands are encouraged to send audiences off the Facebook platform
Each ad on Facebook can be grouped into one of two categories: external or internal. An external ad is an ad that directs a user off of Facebook (e.g. a link to a company’s website). An internal ad is one that keeps the user on the Facebook platform (e.g. a promoted post of a brand’s native video ad).
Marketers, with good reason, like to bring their audiences to their own platforms. This idea wasn’t lost on Facebook. In fact, when looking at the current state of the ad platform, it’s clear that external ads are heavily emphasized.
Looking into this, our data revealed two interesting points. First, roughly the same monetary investment is put toward external and internal ads. Second, external ads have begun outnumbering internal ones.
What this indicates is that external ads can actually be cheaper for advertisers and thus a very efficient choice, so it’s cost-effective to send your target audience to locations off the Facebook platform. Now, over 60 percent of desktop News Feed ads have either website click or conversion objectives. Facebook is becoming very efficient for ad objectives that produce a return and lead gen, and marketers should take note.
Custom Audiences should be embraced for targeting
Facebook’s targeting capabilities are arguably unmatched on digital. And in the past four months, we’ve found that there’s been a breakthrough for Custom Audience targeting: broad targeting is being phased out, and Custom Audience targeting now receives the highest ad spend of all targeting options on Facebook.
It’s no secret that Facebook has a host of consumer information that’s valuable to advertisers. Marketers are now grasping that Facebook targeting is especially effective when used in conjunction with other channels (e.g. website audiences and newsletter databases). Gone are the days of targeting imprecise categories like all men, millennials, or fans’ friends.
Facebook’s ad platform is maturing — and quickly. Today, more ad placement, targeting, and objectives are offered and are being actively used to a greater benefit by advertisers. As ads become more specialized and advertisers become more precise, we’ll continue to see ad effectiveness skyrocket.
Jan Rezab is the CEO and co-founder of Socialbakers, a social media marketing & analytics firm working with over half the Global Fortune 500. A lifelong entrepreneur, Jan started his first business venture at age 15 and is member of the 2015 Forbes 30 Under 30 list. Follow him on Twitter @janrezab.