3 things you must know about Facebook ads in 2015

By Dennis Yu Comment


Oddly, while I hear people complaining about Facebook ads becoming more confusing, more expensive, and more difficult to achieve clear business results, exactly the opposite is now true.

The peddlers of social media advice would have you believe this farce. And it was the same poppycock they fed you when they sold you SEO services, which has now become content marketing or whatever is the flavor of the day. Like Nancy Reagan advised, “Just Say No!”


The unscrupulous chiropractor (not all chiropractors, mind you) wants you to keep coming back each week for an adjustment. The shaman has a vested interest in keeping you confused, while Facebook has a clear economic interest in seeing your business succeed. Then you’ll put more coins into their advertising machine. So Facebook is taking this back.

Facebook wants to drive undeniable, direct business results for you without the interference of 3rd parties. That’s not to say you can’t hire folks to help you with content strategy, building landing pages, tweaking your website, or setting up stuff not directly core to Facebook marketing.

In the last 20 years I’ve done marketing, I know revealing this infuriates the consultants and vendors that profit off the confusion. But don’t fret. They will move on to hawk the next shiny object.

This means you need to have only a few key ingredients in place. Then Facebook will handle the rest. You’ll no longer need an external party to make your ads, touch your bidding, organize your campaign structure, or any sort of meddling. I once heard that the factory of the future will have a man and a dog.  The dog is there to make sure that the man doesn’t touch the machinery.  And the man is there to feed the dog.

So here are the three things you need and why:


No, really. Measurable business goals. I’d choose one for each stage of the 3 part funnel: audience, engagement, and conversion. If you don’t know what reaching or engaging audiences are worth (perhaps your email program is in disrepair), then just allocate 25 percent to each of these buckets, so you can have 50 percent be on the conversion bucket.

The cool thing about Facebook is that they put up a guide to the 9 types of business goals you can choose from, complete with creative specs and how to create the ads.

Screenshot 2014-12-21 02.22.22

Just go here and you’re on your way. Yet there are so many consultants still shilling their guide to Facebook’s ads. Whose guide will you trust– the free one made by Facebook directly or the out-of-date one you buy from a consultant who hasn’t even met with Facebook before?

The cool thing about choosing a business goal, if I may geek out for a minute, is that oCPM (optimized CPM bidding) takes care of the targeting and bidding for you. For the last 7 years, we’ve made our bread-and-butter from mastering Facebook’s wide array of targeting capabilities. And now I’m telling you that Facebook’s automatically targeting and bidding now beats us most of the time, even on our campaigns that spend millions per month.

I was one of the most vociferous detractors of boosting posts until Facebook improved their automatic targeting to the point where I had to shut up. Their system learns over time to get better and better at identifying who your next customer is. They have more data than you and they’re smarter than you.

When you have the conversion pixels in place and know what a sale or lead is worth to you, all the heavy lifting and on-going optimization is on them, not you.

Whoops to the consultants who like to charge on-going monthly management fees. They can sort of make a claim that there is “maintenance” to be done on PPC campaigns, but if they’re honest, they’ll admit that it’s minimal. In fact, the time to prepare the status report and meet with you is more than the time they spend adjust the campaign just before they need to meet with you.


This is where Facebook can’t help you. It the WHY of your existence, what gets you up in the morning, the thing you do that causes your best customers to rave about you.

But neither content marketing software nor consultants can do this for you, either, no matter how many times you click your heels together and wish to go home.  This is definitely the hardest part of marketing, which is exactly where there is so much snake oil being peddled here.

Your saving grace is that your best customers are doing your marketing for you already — more credibly than you or any consultant could.  And they’re a lot cheaper, being either free or the price of a small “thank you” here and there.  Ever hear of our “customer love” process and how we use Amazon Prime / Fancy Hands / Fiverr to say thank you to folks we appreciate?


The content ties back to the goals that you have.  More specifically, you have content sequenced by stages in the customer relationship. Have a few pieces of content each for audience, engagement, and conversion.  If you’re sophisticated, segment out your customers into personas, such that you have a matrix of content (funnel stage on one axis and customer segment on another).

Smart, optimized marketers spend 80 percent of their time on content. And this content is, by nature, evergreen, not time-based (Valentine’s Day sale, 4th of July Blowout, or whatever).  You’re not selling oriental rugs, unless you actually are selling oriental rugs. Conceivably, a rug dealer could be reading this.


If you’ve got a healthy business, measured by brand awareness and a positive reputation, then this part is cake. Load up your custom audiences, if you haven’t already, so that Facebook has the people who have been to your website and are in your email list.

Sounds tricky, but it’s easy. WCA (website custom audiences) are nothing more than people who have been to a part of your website in the last X number of days. You decide what part of the site via simple url rules, plus the time period. Email is automatic with MailChimp and soon will be automatic with other email providers.

You might create half a dozen custom audiences if you’re a small guy (less than $500 a month in online advertising), or you might have thousands if you’re a sophisticated direct marketer with many products. If you’re in ecommerce and have thousands of products, you would use FBX (3rd party retargeting) to drive the retargeting logic, in addition to native retargeting.

Regardless, you’re setting up your audiences (targeting) in Facebook, pairing them to content that you have, tying back to the goals that you’ve specified.

GCT is your friend

Goals, Content, Targeting is the triad that will make you successful in 2015 in Facebook ads and well beyond, I believe. The GCT framework is effective on Google AdWords, Twitter ads, LinkedIn ads, and nearly all other networks.


It’s not a coincidence that the other networks are also asking you to place pixels on your site and asking you to let them handle the bidding. It’s in their economic interest to ask you to specify business goals, load up content, define the audiences, and allow them to optimize from there.

Because the networks are all converging on the same framework (you put a pixel on your site, they collect audiences, you post content, they make native ads) — your work will be easier over time, not harder. Facebook and Google use nearly the same logic for optimizing your campaigns and even creating lookalike audiences.

Some will argue that different networks represent different audiences, that YouTube viewers have a different expectation than Pinterest users, that LinkedIn colleagues are different from Facebook fans.  But if the networks are increasingly harder to get exposure and are primarily driven by newsfeed algorithms, then can’t you expect them to optimize which users should see which content?