Facebook has given advertisers new opportunities to run more relevant ads and test their creative in News Feed by allowing them to create “unpublished posts” that intentionally do not appear to all fans of their page.
Previously this option was available for ads on the right hand side of the desktop site, but it was not allowed for feed-based ads until last week. Even though News Feed is the most engaging placement Facebook offers, it had been difficult to use very highly targeted messaging or run multivariate tests there because a page was required to first create posts that could appear to fans.
With unpublished posts, advertisers can now reach users in News Feed without overwhelming their fans with dozens of different posts, which might not be relevant to them. For example, an athletic brand could make an unpublished post about a basketball product and only show that to fans who are interested in basketball, and then do a tennis-related post for tennis fans, and so on.
Although Facebook offers some page post targeting by age, gender, location and other demographic information, there is no organic way to target posts by interests or factors like Custom Audiences. But with unpublished posts that run as page post ads in News Feed, businesses can show users more relevant content. A service could show longtime users one version of an ad, new users another, and leads yet another.
Advertisers can also do more creative optimization by testing variations of copy or images.
Steve Irvine, Group Director of Global Marketing Solutions, Facebook Canada, spoke about unpublished posts during a fireside chat with AdParlor CEO Hussein Fazal at the Marketing on Facebook conference in Toronto today.
“It’s about really good advertising,” Irvine said. “It’s the ability to take a message that matters to the people it’s relevant to in the most engaging place on Facebook.”
AdParlor, a Facebook Strategic Preferred Marketing Developer, says it has seen initial success with unpublished posts as part of a campaign for a large e-commerce client looking to have consumers fill out a form and sign up for emails about deals on the site. Unpublished post ads had a clickthrough rate of 0.87 percent compared to organic post ads with a CTR of 0.30 percent. Unpublished post ads had a 16 percent higher conversion rate, with 22 percent lower sign-up costs.
“Unpublished posts,” also known as “dark posts” by some in the industry, first became available to advertisers working directly with Facebook in February 2012 when Facebook switched its premium homepage ads to a page post format. It became available via the API in July 2012, but was limited to ads in the Facebook sidebar until a week ago. Advertisers can now create unpublished posts in Power Editor or through the Ads API and promote them in any placement.