As part of our ongoing series on companies offering Facebook’s Ads API tools and services, today we profile Brighter Option’s Social Ads Manager. It allows clients with relatively small budgets to create, target, and bid on ads at a large scale through a self-service tool. SAM’s strengths are in post-click conversion tracking and a robust set of native data visualizations, but it doesn’t have automated bid optimization like some other Ads API tools.
For those less familiar, Facebook’s performance advertising system offers powerful targeting, but the user interface is not designed for running big campaigns or conducting sophisticated A/B testing. Last fall, Facebook gave a limited number of developers access to an ads API to allow more powerful tools for designing, targeting, and managing ads to be built.
Brighter Option is an off-shoot of European social advertising agency Socially Bright, that was looking for a scalable way to run Facebook ads to drive social game installs for its clients. Socially Bright wanted to be able to prove the ROI of running Facebook ads, so Brighter Option designed SAM to focus on conversion tracking and reporting.
The twelve employee team is based in South London, and is self-funded by CEO and founder Peter Goodman. The SAM browser-based software is currently being licensed by roughly twenty clients ranging from social games to small agencies. Unlike many ads API tools which require clients to spend at least $10,000 to $50,000, Brighter Option does not have a a minimum spend. Clients are charged a fee for each click driven through SAM, allowing companies with limited budgets to try out the tool without making a commitment. Fees are capped for larger campaigns to encourage clients to increase their spend.
“We believe once you start using SAM, your spend will increase,” Goodman explains. “People need to be offered a chance to use it at an early stage to prove that Facebook can deliver good results.” Clients need to understand how to use the tool in order to increase their spend, so Brighter Option offers training to help managers.
In the six weeks since SAM launched, Brighter Option has seen a wide spectrum of client spend, though it doesn’t have volume specifics to share yet. The tool provider differentiates itself by “trying to take care of the smaller players as well as the larger ones.”
Social Ads Manager
Upon logging into SAM, users see a dashboard showing their most active campaigns and clients which can be sorted by spend or other metrics, as well as recent daily spend history, ad approvals by Facebook, and connected Facebook accounts.
The New Campaign tab allows user to title, schedule, and bid on a campaign, add images from the ad’s destination site or a library of previously used images, and define targeting. By choosing to expand targets, all the included ages in an age range, selected countries, or languages are applied as variables to create every possible permutation of the ad.
SAM doesn’t provide a vivid way of seing different variants as they’re created, or the approximate audience of all the variants, making it slightly more difficult for a user to understand what ads they’re running. SAM also lacks suggestions for similar interests, or a typeahead for selecting common Likes to target.
The Clients tab presents a performance overview graph which can show metrics including spend, impressions, clicks, Likes, CTR, CPC, CPM, and cost per Like over a variety of time periods. Any of these metrics can be clicked to instantly show that performance graph without the page needing to reload. Users can also see the performance of different campaigns for single products, such as different service plans for a satellite TV package. User can select exactly which columns of data they want to see about these campaigns, such as average bid, total conversions, or how often different conversion levels were reached.
The Engagement section of a product allows users to set up conversion tracking pixels for different post-click actions or conversions, copy the code, and insert it into the web page denoting the action or conversion. Up to eight conversion pixels can be configured for each ad.
The Campaigns tab provides data on exactly who is clicking the ads. Pie charts and bar graphs show a campaign’s clickers broken down by gender, age, location, creative clicked, and more.
Users can view charts of the bids and performance of individual ads within a campaign. Bids to multiple ads can be changed simultaneously, either by setting a new bid, increasing all the bids by a monetary value, or increasing all the bids by a percentage. This last option is useful for when a certain campaign of ads with different bids is leading to higher conversions than other campaigns, and a user wants to increase all the bids of the successful campaign accordingly.
Bid management is Brighter Option’s biggest weakness at this time. Users must manually adjust bids to reflect insights from the analytics, but this is impossible for large scale campaigns. Constantly changing bids by tiny increments to optimize for how different demographics monetize at different times requires an automatic, algorithm-based system that the early-stage company has yet to develop.
The Details view allows users to see bar graphs of the performance of different ads stacked on top of each other for multiple campaigns. This makes it easy to visually compare the campaigns while retaining perpective on how each ad influenced each campaign’s performance.
Clicking the analytics button presents report options where users can select a chart type, date range, interval, values within the chart type, and the statistic to chart. Users can view the report on the site reducing the need for the advertiser or agency to have an in-house data visualization specialist. Reports can also be exported as Excel files or PDFs. Analytics are pulled from Facebook every five minutes, or the Sync button can be click to instantly pull the latest data. Insights like at which step of the monetization flow clickers drop out, such as entering credit card data for those over 50 years of age, can be used to refine both bid management and site design.
To help small agencies and advertisers who don’t always have a manager in the office to pause campaigns in the event of a problem, Brighter Option has developed a special WAP site. It allows managers to pause or active campaigns from their mobile device.
Goodman says the fast-growing ads API industry is exciting, and that Brighter Option has focused on getting feedback from clients to define their roadmap. He says Facebook has helped the company pick up the steep learning curve by providing ample warning about API changes. Next, Brighter Option is working on developing bid optimization algorithms.
Overall, SAM is a huge improvement over running Facebook ads through the native user interface. Offering training, conversion tracking, and native analytics without a minimum spend means any business can get data on the ROI of Facebook ads. However, if advertisers or agencies can afford an ads API tool with auto-optimization of bids, they’ll achieve a lower cost per acquisition than is possible with Brighter Option’s Social Ads Manager.