First Look: The Facebook Ads APIs

The upcoming Facebook Ads APIs are the biggest expansions to Facebook’s performance advertising platform that Facebook has made this year. With the new Ads APIs, advertisers will for the first time be able to systematically manage large volumes of bids and campaigns, and a new tools ecosystem supporting agencies and marketers will emerge.

Facebook has opened up the program to several agencies so far for beta testing, but a Facebook spokesperson told us they don’t currently have estimates for when they’ll be opening the program up more broadly.

Features of the Facebook Ads API

Here’s the first look at the full set of API features. The full (beta) documentation is embedded below. As you would expect, the Facebook Ads API allows advertisers to:

  • Manage multiple advertising accounts
  • Create and manage multiple campaigns
  • Create and manage ad groups within campaigns
  • Create and manage ads within ad groups
  • Set targeting parameters for the following fields: countries, cities, radius, regions, genders, college networks, work networks, minimum age, maximum age, education statuses, college years, college majors, political views, relationship statuses, keywords, and interests
  • Manage start and stop times
  • Get stats on results (impressions, clicks, dollars spent) at the campaign, ad group, or ad level
  • Pay on a CPM or CPC basis, set daily spend limits, and choose from 15 currencies

Why Facebook’s Ads API Matters

Until now, direct response advertisers using Facebook Ads have had no way to build tools to manage large volumes of ads and targeting combinations. With other major performance advertising platforms, like Google AdWords, large ecosystems of ad tools have been built to help advertisers spend more money more efficiently.

Because those tools have never existed for Facebook Ads, performance advertisers have had to either manage their Facebook Ads campaigns manually, or hack their own tools. Now, Facebook is creating simple yet powerful APIs that allow agencies and advertisers to create thousands of ads with different creative and targeting permutations and optimize bids in real time.

For example, say you wanted to test which combinations of geographic targeting, demographic targeting, and keyword targeting yielded the most conversions to your social game. That could easily mean 10,000 different ads. Finding which ones perform best is now a lot easier.

In the end, this will make Facebook Ads more accessible to a broader number of advertisers and agencies, and will lead to more money flowing through the Facebook Ads platform (and more efficient pricing across different segments of the social graph). In other words, Facebook’s performance advertising revenues, which are already a major component of Facebook’s estimated $550 million in total revenues for 2009, should start to grow more quickly.

Update: The full, current API documentation is also available online here. According to Facebook, “This functionality is part of a limited beta program. If you’re interested in participating in the beta test, please contact your Facebook Advertising Account Manager. If you don’t yet have a Facebook Advertising Account Manager, you can request support [here].”

To dive deeper on Facebook marketing tools and best practices, check out our industry leading Facebook Marketing Bible: The Guide to Marketing Your Brand, Company, Product, or Service Inside Facebook.