While small businesses have a huge opportunity to take advantage of the Facebook advertising platform, many large brands are interested in growing their presence on the world’s largest social platform. For those companies there are many opportunities and the challenge is not determining whether or not to be on Facebook but what the best approach is. In this article I’ll outline each of the campaign types, as well as some of the pros and cons of each type.
Facebook Engagement Ads
Back in August of last year, Facebook introduced their engagement ads product, which are essentially the advertisements that are displayed on the homepage. Facebook presents advertisers with a number of different types of engagement ads, most recently introducing hybrid engagement ads which combine two of the five types of engagement ads below.
1. Poll Engagement Ads
Poll advertisements are a great way to get users opinions on any topic you’d like (as long as it’s approved by Facebook). Each poll also includes a link to the advertiser’s page of choice. While it can be seen as a model for research, it’s more of a way to get users to interact with your brand. A similar comparison would be the quiz applications which have become ubiquitous on the Facebook platform. While the quiz results could be seen as “research”, they should be viewed as a form of entertainment.
2. Video Engagement Ads
Video engagement advertisements happen to be a personal favorite of mine. The videos are essentially extended commercials and as far as I know, there are no significant limitations on the length of the video. In other words Facebook doesn’t work in a way similar to television advertisements in which you’d pay for a 30 second time slot. Instead you can select your target demographic and display the video ads to them. Recently Facebook also upgraded their video advertisements to have videos display in a larger format.
I’ve found that movies happen to be the most frequent promotion through video advertisements although Gilette and Toyota Prius have used video advertisements as well (among others).
3. Branded Gift Engagement Ads
Gifts are also a great way to get Facebook users engaging with your brand. The branded gifts will display on the homepage and users will be able to see those friends which have sent gifts to each other, as well as what they wrote when the gifts were sent. The metrics provided to the brand following the campaign is the number of gifts sent as well as the demographics of the people who shared and received the gifts.
4. Event Engagement Ads
Events are extremely effective for raising awareness about single day offerings. For example Ben & Jerry’s had a free ice cream day and using a Facebook event for building awareness is extremely effective. Starbucks has also created event campaigns for highlighting a day when a portion of your purchase would be donated to a charity. This was great for driving users to the store on a specific day. One additional feature of event ads is the ability for a user to see which of their friends are also attending the event.
Wendy’s recently did a Father’s day campaign, in which 50 cents of each Frosty purchased was donated to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. When we viewed the advertisement (as pictured), 12,200 users had RSVPed to attend.
5. Fan Page Ads
Fan page ads are fairly straight-forward. Also, calling this an “engagement” ad is somewhat misleading since all of the users’ engagement actually takes place on the brand’s Facebook page. The benefit of this is that engagement from a Facebook Page is an ongoing thing so many brands prefer to invest in driving users to their Pages. Unfortunately Facebook doesn’t charge on a per fan basis and only accepts homepage advertisements on a CPM model.
Homepage fan page advertisements tend to be more expensive then self-serve Facebook Ads but since we don’t have as much data about these ads’ performance, we can’t provide a definitive stance on them. The one thing that differentiates fan page ads from ads that link to a Facebook Page, is that users can become a fan directly from the advertisement.
6. Hybrid Engagement Ads
Hybrid engagement ads are just a combination of two of the five types of advertisements listed above. While Facebook has made no formal announcement about the advertisements, we’ve seen a number of them in action, including a promotion for a new movie called “(500) Days of Summer”. The most popular combination that we’ve seen so far is video and event engagement ads.
News Feed Advertisements
Facebook used to have a number of news feed advertisements but since the redesign, I haven’t seen a single promotion in the news feed. The primary reason is that the news feed is no longer static for any period of time. Previously Facebook updates users’ news feeds on a periodic basis so promotional news feed stories made a lot of sense, often times getting hours of visibility in an individual’s feed.
Since the redesign we haven’t seen any and while there were restrictions to who could place the ads before, our guess is that these have been temporarily if not permanently phased out. Now that brands can get feed stories through their Facebook Pages, it makes much more sense to spend advertising dollars on promoting the pages (as outlined in the next section).
Facebook Pages are Facebook’s premier platform for enabling brands to engage with potential and existing customers. As I’ve written a number of times, Facebook Pages are essentially a community platforms the give brands an ongoing platform to engage users. While it’s theoretically an alternative to a brand’s destination site, Facebook Pages can also coexist with a destination site, through the use of cross-promotion.
Brands have been building out their presence on Facebook over the past few month as Facebook Pages have evolved into a platform within themselves. What has been most difficult for many brands is allocating a budget for Facebook Pages since it’s an ongoing process. While you can hire community building agencies, most budgets are based on single campaigns rather than ongoing projects.
One of the most effective tools for catering to this campaign versus ongoing strategies issue is the creation of individual applications within Facebook Pages. Klondike for example just recently launched a Facebook Page which includes a fairly robust game called “The Adventures of Khaki Pants Pete”. During the game, Pete Powers finds himself in several “adult-themed misunderstandings when all he is trying to do is score a Klondike bar”.
If you want to learn more about getting more fans to your Facebook page you can check out our Facebook Page strategy guide.
Facebook applications are the fourth opportunity for branded campaigns on Facebook. Companies like Buddy Media and Context Optional have been providing application campaigns since the Facebook platform first launched. One of the primary strategies adopted by Buddy Media is turning applications into “appvertisements” in which brands pay for an application as well as an install campaign which drives new users.
Many of these can be viewed as one-time experiences but integrated with Facebook Pages, applications can provide lasting value. Some applications have even gone viral, including Kidnap! and the Parking Wars games. There are many facebook application strategies to consider when implementing a branded campaign, it ultimately comes down to the company’s goals.
More recently the goal has shifted from generating more application users to increasing your fan base with Facebook Pages, making applications almost secondary to Pages.
There are numerous opportunities for large companies to run branded Facebook campaigns but hopefully this article effectively outlined the four most popular types. While Facebook continues to adjust their offerings for brands, it is no longer optional for large companies to have a presence on the site.