Facebook redesigns self-serve ad tool to simplify creation and build in best practices

Facebook is testing a new design for its self-serve ad tool that simplifies ad creation and recommends a combination of ad types that are most likely to achieve an advertiser’s objective.

The new design and user flow gives users clear options to get started with a campaign based on screenshots provided to us by Facebook. The first question remains the same, “What do you want to advertise?” Here, users can select the page, website or app they want to promote. The second question is “What do you want to do?” For users who select the objective “Get More Page Likes,” Facebook will suggest both traditional marketplace ads that appear in the sidebar and Sponsored Stories that may run in News Feed. These ads will run with Facebook’s optimized CPM, which means they’ll target people most likely to Like the page and the advertiser does not need to set a bid price.

Facebook says today’s change is a front-end design change, and that nothing has been changed in the Ads API. Advertisers who want more control over their creative and the ability to bid on a CPC model can select “See Advanced Options.” The audience targeting section does not appear to have changed at all.

COO Sheryl Sandberg recently said during the company’s earnings call that getting local businesses to use Facebook ads was an important goal they are working toward. As such, it is important for the company to consider the user interface it provides for the broadest range of customer, especially when the targeting options and ad types are getting more complicated. Large brands can afford to work with Facebook directly or go through an Ads API partner with expertise on the platform, but most businesses and organizations will depend on the self-serve tool. Framing Facebook campaigns in ways they can understand and helping them see results will be key for the company to increase its advertising revenue among the long tail.

Another goal Sandberg discussed was making more ads “social.” She said fewer than half of all Facebook ads include social context about how a friend is connected to an advertiser. By automatically creating Sponsored Stories to run along with traditional ads, Facebook can get more of these social ads in the system. Sponsored Stories generally perform better and are less recognizable as advertising to the average user. It’s also a good strategy to combine the two types of ads to maximize the impact of a campaign. Because Sponsored Stories can only be shown to the friends of a page’s fans, they have limited reach. Especially if a page is small, traditional marketplace ads that run in the sidebar might be necessary. However, by running Sponsored Stories at the same time, each new Like works harder for an advertiser because it is subsequently promoted to the user’s friends.

In March, Facebook began testing a version of the self-serve ad tool that framed ad creation in easier-to-understand terms and began to simplify the steps to starting a new campaign. Today’s design seems to be a further improvement, though we haven’t had the opportunity to test it ourselves since it hasn’t rolled out to us.