Walkthrough of how to use Facebook’s updated self-serve ad tool

Facebook has been testing a new self-serve ad tool that frames ad creation in easier-to-understand terms and simplifies the steps to starting a new campaign.

Now that we’ve had the opportunity to use the ad tool ourselves, we can see Facebook is making positive strides in creating a tool that small businesses and individuals can use effectively to create campaigns for their pages, apps and other content. However, we have some doubts about the new “objective” section. Targeting any objective besides clicks forces advertisers to pay on a cost per impression basis rather than bid on cost per click. It is unclear whether this an improvement, and we’ve heard mixed reviews from some advertisers who have tested the option.

What follows is a walkthrough of what it is like to create a campaign for a Facebook page using the new ad tool. Note that the tool is still in beta and some users might see different variations in design, phrasing or features.

Set up your ad or Sponsored Story

When users select “Create an ad” from their page’s Timeline or anywhere else on the site, the first thing they do is select the destination of the ad they want to run, whether its a page, an app or external URL. This is an improvement over the old design, which provided all of an advertiser’s options on a single page, which could be overwhelming for someone first considering making a campaign. However, as we’ve covered, some users with the new format cannot yet create ads for their Facebook events.

What do you want to promote?

After users select their ad destination, Facebook asks “What do you want to promote?” When the ad destination is a page, advertisers can select the page itself or a specific post from the page. This is much clearer than the option in the old tool, which made users choose between the ambiguously named “Sponsored Stories” and “Facebook Ads.”

When advertisers indicated that they want to promote their page, not just a specific post, they see another two options: “A new ad about [your page]” or “Stories about their friends liking [your page].” The former presents fields for creating a traditional Facebook ad with an image and body copy. These ads can lead to third-party tab applications, if desired.

When advertisers choose the latter option, they create Sponsored Stories, which will show the name of the page and a thumbnail of its profile photo, along with the name and photo of a friend who Likes the page. There is no additional customization available for this type of ad.

When advertisers decide they want to promote a specific page post, they get a drop-down menu of recent posts that can be used in ads. After selecting a post, advertisers can select whether they want to promote the post itself or promote stories about friends who Like the given post. Facebook could provide more explanation about the differences between these types of ads, for example, in terms of reach and placement. The second option, which Facebook sometimes calls Page-Post Like Sponsored Stories, have a smaller potential audience because Facebook won’t show the ad to users unless they have a friend who engaged with the post. However, these ads are eligible to run in News Feed, whereas a specific page post ad will never appear in News Feed for non-fans.

Choose your audience

The next step after choosing any of those four ad types is defining an audience. The demographic targeting is the same as it was in the old tool, but now advertisers can target precise interests and broad categories at the same time. Previously, advertisers could only choose one or the other. Now, for example, an advertiser can target the broad category of Hispanics and then refine that target to only those who are interested in Barack Obama.

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