3 Facebook Advertising Mistakes Experienced Advertisers Must Avoid

Opinion: There are more strategic-level oversights, and they’re hurting advertising performance at many big, sophisticated brands

Facebook is a gold mine for today’s digital advertiser. Recent stats show just how potent the social network is in the industry—60 percent of advertisers expect to increase ad spend there in 2017. Advertisers are clearly getting results on the platform.

However, I find that advertisers—even experienced ones spending significant budgets on Facebook—lose opportunities by committing fairly common mistakes in their campaigns.

We’re not talking about beginner’s mistakes like not tracking conversions with the Facebook pixel, having too much text on ads or oversaturating an audience with the same messages. There are more strategic-level oversights, and they’re hurting advertising performance at many big, sophisticated brands.

Not optimizing bids toward the right goals

Facebook’s bid optimization and auction algorithms are still developing and have become extremely good at predicting user-level behavior. To harness their full power, it’s important to provide the correct signals to the algorithms and guide them toward the right goals.

We see our clients A/B test different bid optimization goals and consistently find out that optimizing toward the lowest possible event in the conversion funnel brings the best results.

Our client Lazada, an e-commerce giant from Southeast Asia, achieved 30 percent lower cost per install by switching its retargeting campaign’s optimization goal from clicks to purchases. It’s important to keep in mind that the people most likely to click on ads are often not the ones most likely to install an application or purchase from an online store, so choose who you want to reach and optimize for them carefully.

Not customizing ad content per audience segment and refreshing creative

Online advertisers love that Facebook offers such precise tracking and targeting capabilities, but if ad content is not tailored for refined audience segments, advertisers are only partially leveraging these capabilities.

When customizing ad content—something that includes continually refreshing creatives and ad copy—many see improved return on investment. That’s why advertisers are now aiming to do it at a much larger scale.

Travel advertisers, for example, can customize creative elements to location and users’ intent signals, auto manufacturers and retailers use proximity to dealerships and stores and e-commerce companies use price and product categories.

Creating multiple ad variations, testing each variation and selecting the best-performing one for each audience segment will net far better results.

Not bringing in the volume with prospecting (and branding)

Singularly focusing on retargeting may sound tempting because the results are so good, but the scale of retargeting is always limited to the number of people you are able to bring into your app or website. One of the factors separating high-growth businesses is success in building a great brand and efficient prospecting campaigns that continuously attract new customers to their business.

Test different seed audiences for your lookalikes, depending on campaigns’ objectives. Audiences like customers with the highest lifetime value, customers who purchased from a specific category and customers who return to your service most frequently are good ones to try out as seeds.

Additionally, it’s important to keep audiences as large as possible, but segment by behavior or expected lifetime value so that you can bid higher for more valuable segments.

It’s equally as important to develop an understanding of attribution and the bigger picture. Prospecting and more branding-focused campaigns such as video ads are often deprioritized because they result in higher cost per acquisition or ROI than carousel link ads. That’s a mistake. Video ads may, in fact, contribute to better overall brand awareness and buying intent, improving the performance of all the other campaigns, too.

Do not burn money if it’s not working, but make sure you understand the full impact before rushing into decisions.

Making these Facebook advertising mistakes can be costly, and these more advanced mistakes have greater impact the larger your advertising volume grows.

Luckily, as technology becomes smarter and more accessible, brands can accomplish a lot of this optimization without needing dedicated people toggling back and forth between different campaigns to juggle budgets and make slight tweaks. This gives advertisers time back to focus on understanding their customers and building an appealing story and messaging around the products and services they’re most excited about.

Tuomo Riekki is founder and chief technology officer at Facebook Marketing Partner Smartly.io.

Image courtesy of DNY59/iStock.