STUDY: Facebook Ad Campaigns Should Tell Stories

By David Cohen 

AdaptlyStorytellingStudySequencedAds650Every picture tells a story, but what about every Facebook ad campaign? The social network teamed up with Strategic Preferred Marketing Developer and social media advertising technology firm Adaptly on a study in which two separate campaigns were run this past May for independent fashion and lifestyle website Refinery29. The results were detailed in a post on the Facebook for Business page.

One campaign featured creative and images focused strictly on generating subscriptions, while the second featured “sequenced” ads that told the story of the Refinery29 brands. Ads in both campaigns were served to lookalike audiences. More details follow from the Adaptly study:

Adaptly deployed a campaign for Refinery29 in May 2014 on Facebook to target people in News Feed:

Refinery29 and Adaptly created a Facebook custom audience using Refinery29’s best email subscribers (achieved a 69 percent audience match rate on Facebook).

From the custom audience, Adaptly built a Facebook lookalike audience of over 2 million people who were also likely to become high-value customers. The entire audience was randomly assigned into three test cohorts for the experiment.

Refinery29 designed three creatives for each treatment group and Adaptly tailored the campaigns.

  • The sequenced for call-to-action group was delivered across 12 days split evenly across each stage to “walk” people down the brand funnel: 1) top of the funnel ad for brand message 2) middle of the funnel ad for consideration 3) bottom of the funnel ad for call to action.
  • Sustained CTA was targeted with three CTA-focused ads, each delivered for four days, and with similar bidding strategies to the sequenced for CTA campaign.
  • The control group was not targeted with any Refinery29 campaigns on Facebook.

Adaptly summarized its findings in the Facebook for Business post:

Among those who were exposed to the sequenced ads compared with those who were exposed to the non-sequenced ads, there was an 87 percent increase in people visiting the landing page.

There was a 56 percent increase in subscription rates among people who were exposed to the sequenced ads compared with those who were exposed to the non-sequenced ads.

People who were exposed to all three of the ads in the sequence converted at higher rates than those who had seen just one or two of the ads. People who saw even just one of the ads converted at higher rates than people in the control group who saw no ads.

Based on the results, Adaptly recommended:

  • Consider testing a “sequenced” marketing message, even if the goal is direct-response, to improve the results that matter to the campaign or the brand.
  • Adjust the message depending on what people know about the brand. Brands that enjoy a higher level of awareness may be able to focus more on purchase intent and conversion than a brand that is less well known.

Adaptly CEO Nikhil Sethi said of the study:

Some advertisers may find it counterintuitive to elongate a campaign as a way to more gradually bring their audience through the purchase funnel, rather than more immediately delivering a call to action. But we have proven that this classic brand-building approach it is both effective and efficient, even for direct response advertising.

Refinery29 Chief Revenue Officer Melissa Goidel added:

Quality and engagement are critical when developing a customer-base with real lifetime value. By telling the Refinery29 story during the acquisition process, and building awareness and consideration before driving to conversion, we were able to increase our return on investment and ultimately acquire a more informed and qualified subscriber.