Facebook’s advertising presence has been a moving target lately. The social media giant announced several new updates to its advertising offerings last month, including features like household targeting, Messenger app ads and Marketplace ads.
The household tool enables advertisers to tailor ads to entire households, or specific decision-makers within a family. Messenger ads will appear on Facebook Messenger's home page, and Marketplace ads will look like sponsored Marketplace listings. These last two features are still being tested and will be slowly introduced in new markets this year.
But for advertisers, the trick isn’t understanding what each feature does. The challenge is to determine which is most appropriate to use given their overall brand advertising strategies.
The best approach is always to do some exploration. Research the updates, develop clear cut advertising goals and determine how using these targeting options might help (or hinder) your objectives.
Then, make sure you’re following targeting best practices. Advertisers that fail to target their audiences effectively end up being unable of taking full advantage of these new features and, ultimately, of maximizing conversions.
Here’s a closer look at the new updates and some advice for advertisers looking to use them.
Determine how each tool fits into your overall advertising strategy
Facebook advertising is effective because of the targeting capabilities the site offers, its reach and the variety of ad units available that make the social network an obvious option for reaching seemingly any audience and any marketing objective. Facebook has done a really nice job offering something for everybody.
But just because these options are new and shiny, it doesn’t mean advertisers should jump into them without careful consideration. Work with your agency and Facebook ad representative to determine which features are appropriate for your goals.
A good framework to follow is first to define your objective and how you want to measure it. It’s an easy and common mistake to start with the creative in mind. Then, you can focus on where you want to message and with what creative units. Consider the following examples for each of Facebook’s newest features:
- Household Targeting: If you’re a subscription service like Amazon Prime, it’s likely that you want to find very specific new households to acquire, rather than reaching a wide untargeted audience. Your ad dollars will go further if you use household targeting and exclude those contacts you already have on your media plan.
- Messenger ads: Messenger ads should be used to reach a mass audience with a general awareness messaging. One example might be studios promoting their latest movies. The ads can lead to a website or be used to start a conversation thread with customers inviting them to buy tickets.
- Marketplace ads: Marketplace ads should be used for objectives that are a bit more industry or category specific. A perfect use case could be a local hardware store trying to drive sales. The marketplace feature would allow this advertiser to reach those researching hammers, saws and other hardware supplies.
Be strategic to avoid weak results
The biggest mistake advertisers can make with Facebook’s ad updates right now is to force a square peg to fit in a round hole. If you can’t make a logical business case for a certain feature, it is counterproductive to force yourself to use it.
For instance, a luxury brand should avoid advertising in the marketplace section where most users are looking for low prices. Instead, Messenger ads may be a better way to allocate budget to engage with customers that already have a relationship with the brand.
My advice: be patient. Messenger ads will slowly roll out later this year, and it will be smart to observe it for a bit. How do the ads look? Are they invasive? Jumping into a new feature without learning how it has worked for others is a tricky move for brands that are more risk-averse. On the other hand, those who are willing to try unproven tactics will find value in testing out these options with limited spend.
The same holds true for Marketplace ads. Ensure that your ad blends in nicely with the rest of the posts to avoid upsetting consumers who access this Facebook section to buy and sell goods from others, not advertisers directly.
Don’t forget audience targeting best practices
On top of research, to better understand how these new Facebook features might fit into your ad strategy, it’s important to continue to adopt best practices in targeting to maximize your ad effectiveness and ultimately reach your goals.
Your audience can’t be viewed as one big bucket. To achieve the best results, advertisers need to see their audiences as hundreds of mini variables. Break up campaigns by single factors (e.g., men 18-24 on mobile interested in pop music, or men 18-24 on desktop interested in football). This is the best way to determine who your most engaged audience is and where your ad spend can be optimized.
Facebook’s new advertising features can be beneficial to any advertiser. The key for brands is to explore how each feature might be best used within their advertising plans and to continue following best practices when it comes to advertising targeting.
About the Author
Andrew Selby is VP of Client Services at Strike Social, a global company that harnesses the power of artificial intelligence to help agencies and brands succeed in YouTube and social media advertising. With teams based in Chicago, Kraków and Manila, Andrew oversees a portfolio of 500+ clients worldwide, including Beats, Xbox, Honda, Mattel, Lionsgate and Trunk Club. Andrew holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.