Facebook has permeated virtually every aspect of our lives and, with over 1 billion users, has provided entrepreneurs with a cost-effective and powerful way to market to customers.
When it first launched in 2004, ads were primitive banner displays called "Facebook Flyers." These only allowed advertisers to target users based on the university they were attending.
Since then, the platform has matured into an advertising powerhouse, dominating the social-media space by claiming a whopping 12% of the $186.8 billion global digital-advertising market.
As a digital marketer myself (and always wanting to stay ahead of the curve), I recently spoke to Catherine Howell, an expert on Facebook advertising and founder of Eight Loop Social. She offered insights on five important shifts that will impact your strategies when searching for success with Facebook ads.
1. Video reigns supreme.
Vying for a piece of television-ad budgets as well as YouTube's user base, Facebook has made it no secret that it's out for the title of preferred video platform.
The consequence is that video ads are currently some of the cheapest on the market, both digitally and above-the-line, costing around $4 for 1,000 impressions or $0.01 per video view.
The ability to re-target those who watched your video further solidifies Facebook's commitment to prioritizing video content and makes it a no-brainer to be used as leverage in your own funnel and ad strategy.
2. Don't worry too much about your website.
Howell says that one of the greatest struggles between social-media platforms and advertisers has been the often jolting user experience that occurs between the social platform and an advertiser's website.
Often, sites have poor mobile experiences and take too long to load, negatively impacting conversion rates.
To mitigate this, Facebook has built out its repertoire of ad formats to allow advertisers to generate conversions straight from the platform, meaning the user never needs to leave Facebook to engage with your brand or product.
An example of this is "lead ads," which allow advertisers to collect email addresses or quote requests straight from the ad itself.
The recent rollout of the revamped Facebook Shop is another cue that the platform is getting ready to offer social-commerce ads.
3. It's very hard to sell directly to a cold audience.
Going straight for the sell with your Facebook ad doesn't cut it anymore. With user newsfeeds becoming increasingly cluttered with ads, the effectiveness of ads is diminishing.
It is difficult to get people who have never interacted with your product or brand to commit to taking action, even one as simple as downloading a free course or template. You have to build a relationship first. This approach is called a sales funnel, or pipeline.
The speed and effectiveness of your funnel will ultimately depend on your offer, price point and target audience. For service-based entrepreneurs who don't have this, Facebook ads will become a costly exercise.
For e-commerce entrepreneurs, the ability to successfully sell your product to a cold audience using Facebook ads (for anything under $150) will come down to sourcing what are called "kingpin" products. These are "impulse buys" that are in hot demand, and they will usually generate 85% of your total sales. If your products are over $150, retargeting is where you will find the sales.
4. Facebook prefers mobile - watch out!
Howell says that advertisers need to understand the fragile balance between mobile users and data with their conversion rates.
If you are running ads using both desktop and mobile in your placement, Facebook will always feed your ad into mobile, simply because that is where there is the most real estate.
While your offer and audience may operate very well on mobile, these can result in very expensive or unsustainable conversion numbers for some.
Certain consumer groups haven't adopted mobile purchasing behavior as effectively as others. If you need to ensure your ads are shown on desktop, make sure you split out this placement between ad sets.
5. It's only going to get more expensive.
Earlier this year, Facebook announced that it had hit a milestone of 3 million advertisers. While this number may not mean much to you, it's important to remember that Facebook Ads, and the pricing of ads, is set by auction.
Once you specify your target for your campaigns, Facebook will pit your ad against those from other advertisers and, in a split-second decision based on a number of factors, will determine the winner.
The more advertisers jump onto Facebook, the higher the auction price goes. An example of this is video view ads, which average $4 per thousand impressions, up 14% in the last year alone.
At the end of the day, one key benefit of using Facebook ads is real-time feedback and tracking. Test your campaigns against best-practice benchmarks and see what your audience responds to.