Should you optimize Facebook ad campaigns for reach or engagement?

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By Justin Lafferty Comment

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One of the biggest debates in Facebook ad circles is whether advertisers should go for reach or engagement. A new study by Facebook Strategic Preferred Marketing Developer SocialCode shows that many advertisers can get more results by optimizing for reach.

Right now, many advertisers are calibrating their campaigns to get more engagement, but SocialCode Senior Vice President of Marketing Max Kalehoff feels that marketers should optimize for both. He advocated for using quality creative to surface the most engaging post, then advertising those posts for optimal reach.

The study cites a 2011 Nielsen report that shows no positive correlation between clickthrough rate and sales life.

In a test, SocialCode saw a 13x drop in CPM when an ad campaign was optimized for reach, rather than engagement, which SocialCode terms a red herring for measuring the true effectiveness of a campaign. In another test, a reach-optimized campaign saw a 44 percent decrease in CPM compared to an engagement-targeted ad, but also generated enough engagement that CPE fell 44 percent as well.

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Kalehoff talked with Inside Facebook about the reach vs. engagement debate, saying that brands should aim for engagement with great creative, but advertise to enhance the reach of those posts:

A common challenge is, how do you drive demand and offline sales? If you look at other media channels, like television, radio and print — the model that is historically used is around reach and frequency. Typically, big branding dollars are spec-ed out and planned that way. We’re working in the world of social and we have objectives that are around branding or driving product awareness and ultimately offline sales. What we see is that driving reach and frequency is really one of the best proxies to achieving that goal.

When it comes to advertising on a social platform, those rules shouldn’t alter. They should remain consistent.

Readers: Do you agree with SocialCode?

Top image courtesy of Shutterstock.