The Search Marketer's Guide to Successful Facebook Ads - March 2011

The Search Marketer's Guide to Successful Facebook Ads - March 2011

              The Search Marketer’s Guide
               to Successful Facebook Ads
                                March 2011
The Search Marketer's Guide to Successful Facebook Ads - March 2011
The Search Marketer’s Guide to Successful Facebook Ads

                    Table of Contents

                      Introduction           						 3

                      Audience Targeting 					                                                5
                            Understand Your Audience				                                      5

                             Use Keywords to Identify Likes                                   6

                             Target Your Fans & Their Friends                                 6

                             Use Root Analysis to Expand Targeting                            7

                             Segment Audiences                                                8

                      Creative							 9
                            Images are Important					 9

                             Keep Ads Fresh                                                   9

                             Match Creatives to Audiences                                     10

                             Facebook-Specific Promotions                                     11

                      User Experience                    				                                 12
                            Maintain the Facebook Experience			                               12

                             Measure Conversions                                              13

                             Facebook Influences Search                                       13

                      Conclusion 						                                                       14

                      About Marin Software 				                                               15

                                 Copyright © 2011 Marin Software, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Search Marketer's Guide to Successful Facebook Ads - March 2011
The Search Marketer’s Guide to Successful Facebook Ads

                 With US consumers spending more time on Facebook than Google or any other website, adver-
                 tisers are jumping at the opportunity to reach them. The number of monthly visits to Facebook
                 first surpassed Google in May 2010, and continues to outpace Google today. During the week
                 ending November 13, 2010, nearly 1-in-4 page views in the US took place on,
                 representing 24 % of the total market share for page views that week, almost four times the
                 volume of the 2nd ranked website, 1

                 Facebook vs. Google Visits:


                 It makes sense that marketers are rushing to build a “social” presence on Facebook. Not only
                 are consumers spending more time on the social network, but Facebook users are also extreme-
                 ly engaged with both friends and brands, sharing activities and interests sometimes multiple
                 times a day. With advertising, however, marketers are still in the early stages of understanding
                 how to best use the Facebook platform. Despite Facebook’s sizeable and growing ad revenues,
                 advertisers in many cases are still limiting their efforts to testing on Facebook to evaluate per-

                 This hesitation from advertisers in the Facebook market represents an opportunity. There is still
                 a chance to get ahead of the curve and build a Facebook advertising program before competition
                 increases click prices. For search marketers, advertising on Facebook represents a shift from
                 intent-based advertising to interest-based advertising, similar to running campaigns on con-
                 tent networks. A common starting place for search marketers is to think of Likes and Interests
                 on Facebook as paid search keywords. While these targeting criteria can be a useful place to
                 begin, there are a variety of skills and techniques used by successful search marketers that
                 can also be translated into building successful Facebook ad campaigns. Despite differences in
                 targeting methodologies, Facebook and paid search advertising share a common bond – their ad
                 platforms fundamentally rely on narrowly targeting segments of users to drive specific traffic to
                 a site or application.


                                          Copyright © 2011 Marin Software, Inc. All rights reserved.                      3
The Search Marketer’s Guide to Successful Facebook Ads

                 With a large variety of targeting criteria to explore, Facebook advertisers must balance expanding
                 their audience with refining traffic quality, all the while paying attention to the impact that fac-
                 tors such as creative and landing pages have on conversion. This plays to the search marketer’s
                 strengths: analyzing conversion rates and ROI down to the creative level; building out multiple
                 campaigns with varying targeting parameters; sub-segmenting based on quantitative results to
                 refine traffic; testing ad copy and landing page effectiveness; and managing ad quality.

                 So, you have the skills, but where do you begin? We interviewed large-scale paid search market-
                 ers advertising on Facebook and put together a summary of tips and tricks to help marketers
                 get Facebook ad programs on track. These tips are focused on helping advertisers improve the
                 performance and ROI of Facebook Ads through best practices in the areas of targeting, creative,
                 and user experience.

                                   Copyright © 2011 Marin Software, Inc. All rights reserved.                           4
The Search Marketer’s Guide to Successful Facebook Ads

                 Audience Targeting

                 Understand Your Audience

                 With over 500 Million users on Facebook, there are likely a lot of consumers you’d like to tar-
                 get – but where do you start? Facebook Ads provide a unique audience-buying experience. On
                 Facebook, consumers choose to share information that is vastly more valuable for ad targeting
                 than what marketers can typically gather from behavioral data or online surveys. By now, most
                 organizations have built some type of social presence and have organically attracted fans. The
                 advertisers we work with find a surprising amount of insightful information from users who al-
                 ready “like” their page. If your company already has a Facebook page or application, it can be a
                 great way to understand the seed audience that will perform well for your ads. On the “Insights”
                 page you can see the breakdown of your fans’ by age, gender and location. Use information from
                 the Insights page to understand your demographic, and apply these parameters to target users
                 similar to your current fanbase.

                 Use Keywords to Identify Likes

                 Targeting by Likes and Interests on Facebook allows marketers to serve ads to users who have
                 expressed affinity for particular activities, products, brands, or services related to their busi-
                 ness. One best practice we identified across leading advertisers was using paid search key-
                 words and themes to identify initial targeting criteria. Identify your highest performing paid
                 search groups or terms to determine relevant interests for targeting. You should be thought-
                 ful about how you use these keywords, focusing on topics and themes rather than individual
                 terms, to translate search keywords into terms representing Likes and Interests. Also, not every
                 term is going to work, some iterations of ‘likes’ only reach a few users on Facebook, and others
                 may not even be targeting options. Use Facebook’s advertising tools to estimate the reach of
                 an ad with particular targeting parameters.

                                   Copyright © 2011 Marin Software, Inc. All rights reserved.                         5
The Search Marketer’s Guide to Successful Facebook Ads

                 Target Your Fans & Their Friends

                 Just as you would want to serve an ad to a consumer on their
                 second or third search, marketers should take advantage of users
                 that already “like” their page or app. Especially for well-known
                 brands with an established presence on Facebook, your fanbase
                 is likely already a strongly performing audience; they might just
                 need that extra push or reminder from an ad to make a purchase.
                 One advertiser we spoke to said ads targeted at existing fans drove
                 30% more new customer sales than ads targeted towards generic
                 audiences. Friends of connections are also a great way to expand
                 your audience to reach people likely to convert. User’s connections
                 tend to be of similar age, status and location so that puts them in
                 your target audience. Moreover, when you target Facebook users’
                 friends, your ad will mention their connection, giving it increased
                 credibility and relevancy to the audience.

                      Case Study: Success with Existing Fans
                     Situation: Razorfish began running ads on Facebook for a large retail client. This
                     branded retailer had organically built a fan base of millions of Facebook users but
                     weren’t able to generate sales from this organic traffic.

                     Solution: With the help of Marin Software, Razorfish published Facebook Ads specifi-
                     cally targeted towards “fans” of the brand, using an aggressive call to action / linking
                     to their site (what about the ads drove response).

                     Results: By targeting ads to existing fans of the brand, Razorfish drove a measurable
                     increase in revenue for the brand. Surprisingly, Facebook ads targeted at existing
                     connections had higher new customer purchase rates. For one campaign they saw a
                     new-to-file rate over 30% higher than any other marketing channel.

                                   Copyright © 2011 Marin Software, Inc. All rights reserved.                   6
The Search Marketer’s Guide to Successful Facebook Ads

                 Use Root Analysis to Expand Targeting

                 As referenced above, paid search keywords are a great place to get introductory lists of likes
                 for targeting. However, in order to target a full audience of potential customers, you may have
                 to do some investigating for likes and interests that go beyond your general keyword terms. For
                 example, using the targeting parameter “Camping,” an ad will not reach users who have listed
                 “Camping in the Mountains” or “Tent Camping” on their profile. However, these users could be
                 valuable consumers. Root analysis is a useful way to discover likes and interests on Facebook to
                 expand your audience and drive more conversions. Simply start with a root word and expand your
                 targeting to include related interests. You can do this by typing the root word into Facebook’s
                 “Likes & Interests” targeting settings and then typing a single letter to find related terms. Using
                 the camping example, entering “Camping I” results in a list that includes “Camping in Califor-
                 nia” and “I love camping.” Adding these unique terms to your targeting criteria expands your
                 audience, helping to discover additional valuable consumers and improve overall ROI.

                                                                              Root Analysis
                                                                              To the left is a screenshot showing how
                                                                              to use root analysis to expand on Likes
                                                                              and Interests targeting on Facebook.
                                                                              The advertiser types in the root word
                                                                              and a single letter, and then additional
                                                                              targeting criteria are suggested by Facebook.

                                   Copyright © 2011 Marin Software, Inc. All rights reserved.                                 7
The Search Marketer’s Guide to Successful Facebook Ads

                 Segment Audiences

                 With all of the targeting options above, and over 500 Million users on Facebook, you probably
                 already have a sizeable potential audience. However, not all Facebook users are created equal.
                 Audience groups will inevitably convert at different rates. Segment audiences to understand the
                 value of each group of consumers and then adjust your bids accordingly to optimize your Face-
                 book budget. Segmenting audiences by age, location, gender, and “likes” are the most com-
                 mon types of segmentation we’ve seen across advertisers. As you see the performance variance
                 between your segmented advertisements, you can adjust bids for each segment up or down to
                 improve overall ROI for your Facebook advertising campaigns.

                                                                             Audience Segmentation
                                                                             Automatically segment audiences
                                                                             by targeting criteria in Marin, creating
                                                                             multiple micro-targeted copies of the
                                                                             original group.

                                  Copyright © 2011 Marin Software, Inc. All rights reserved.                            8
The Search Marketer’s Guide to Successful Facebook Ads


                 Images are Important

                 The audience you are targeting on Facebook is on the social network to interact with friends,
                 share their photos, and play games, not to look for products and services; so ads need to grab
                 their attention. Facebook users are inundated with content and typically scan text and images
                 quickly to find what interests them, but there are tricks to attracting attention in the Facebook
                 world. Our research shows that images are the key driver for click-through rates. Advertisers
                 need to focus on creative that first captures the consumers’ attention, unlike in search where
                 they are already seeking information about a topic related to your product. We’ve found the most
                 successful ads tend to be those that standout on a page with engaging images and contrasting
                 colors. Adding borders to photos in colors like orange or yellow, that contrast with the blue and
                 white Facebook interface, is a simple way to pull the users’ eyes towards ads. Relating images
                 to your audience, for example by serving an image of a local landmark or a sport’s team that
                 users have listed in their Likes, is another way to garner more attention than a generic image.
                 One marketer we surveyed suggested “amateur” style images, instead of stock-photos, are more
                 successful because they mimic the rest of the content on the site.

                 Notice how the yellow image below grabs your attention more than the image on the left.

                 Keep Ads Fresh

                 Believe it or not, just standing out on a page is not enough; marketers need to rotate ads to keep
                 them fresh. Facebook Ads are typically served to the same users multiple times, often in the
                 same day, so they quickly tune-out repeat ads. Facebook doesn’t have frequency capping, so it
                 is up to you to monitor the number of impressions each ad receives daily and watch for drops
                 in click-through rates. Successful Facebook advertisers typically rotate creative to combat the
                 “ad blindness” that can result from a user seeing an ad multiple times. Switching out images
                 and headline copy typically helps boost click-through rates. Facebook itself even suggests that
                 advertisers change images and copy every few days to make sure ads remain fresh to the viewers
                 and encourage clicks.

                                    Copyright © 2011 Marin Software, Inc. All rights reserved.                        9
The Search Marketer’s Guide to Successful Facebook Ads

                                                                         Creative Rotation
                                                                         Marin Software automatically rotates
                                                                         creative for you to keep Facebook advertise-
                                                                         ments fresh for viewers and maintain high
                                                                         click-through rates.

                 Match Creatives to Audiences

                 If you’re following our advice, you’ve probably built out a variety of audience segments with
                 unique characteristics, so it makes sense to apply this knowledge to creative decisions. For ex-
                 ample, for campaigns targeted by region, inserting city names or promoting local events can be
                 more effective than generic creative. One advertiser that we spoke to promoted college-focused
                 apparel, segmenting audiences by their alma maters. When they targeted their copy and images
                 so ads referenced each user’s school, they saw significantly improved performance. For adver-
                 tisements targeted at existing fans, referencing the fact that they’ve already expressed affinity
                 for your product or brand can catch their attention.

                                   Copyright © 2011 Marin Software, Inc. All rights reserved.                           10
The Search Marketer’s Guide to Successful Facebook Ads

                 Facebook-Specific Promotions

                 Getting consumers to convert on Facebook requires more than just getting them to your page,
                 users also have to click the Like button or install your application. Just as you would provide a
                 promotion or call-to-action on a paid search landing page, marketers must encourage Facebook
                 users to convert even past the click. One of the most successful practices we’ve seen on Face-
                 book is when advertisers reward consumers for engaging with them through fans-only sales and
                 promotions. It is simple to build a tab on your Facebook page that appears only to fans. Promot-
                 ing a coupon code in ads, as well as on the landing page, is a great way to get users to convert.
                 And, this conversion is easier for consumers than most paid-search conversions, because they
                 don’t have to enter any information. Consumers just click “like” or “accept” and marketers im-
                 mediately have the ability to engage with them.

                      Case Study: Reward Fans Offline
                      Situation: A multi-channel retailer was looking to engage on online audience to drive
                      purchases both online and in brick and mortar stores.

                      Solution: The brand used Marin Software to run promotional ads targeted to women in
                      their core demographic that were geographically located close to stores.

                      Results: By providing a special discount coupon, only to Facebook users that “liked”
                      the brand, this retailer was able to build out their fan base and drive business to the
                      brick and mortar store. Marin Software made it easy for the retailer to target specific
                      cities where the retail stores were located. More importantly, now that they have
                      Facebook Fans, the retailer can promote sales and new merchandise directly to an
                      interested audience.

                                   Copyright © 2011 Marin Software, Inc. All rights reserved.                        11
The Search Marketer’s Guide to Successful Facebook Ads

                 User Experience

                 Maintain the Facebook Experience

                 Many of the advertisers we spoke with have found keeping users                 “Access to our brand’s
                 on Facebook is a more engaging experience. While sending users                  Facebook page is pivotal.
                                                                                                 We weren’t seeing any
                 to external websites may work for some, tailoring your brand expe-              results sending ads to
                 rience to Facebook users typically delivers better results. Linking             external websites, but as
                 ads to Custom Pages, Applications, or Events on Facebook allows                 soon as we could target
                                                                                                 existing fans, we saw ROI
                 you to keep users within the social network for a consistent brows-
                                                                                                 and measurable increase
                 ing experience, resulting in lower bounce rates. Use Custom Pag-                in business.”
                 es, as part of your Facebook Page, that make it easy for consumers
                 to “like” your product or brand. A Like allows you to then remarket            - Shawn Cheng,
                 to them over time with messages and status updates about deals                   Lead Account Manager
                 or upcoming events. Facebook Apps, on the other hand, provide
                 the marketer with more control over the user experience, as well
                 as the ability to gather detailed demographic data from user pro-
                 files. If keeping users on Facebook isn’t ideal for your business,
                 consider tailoring your site landing pages for social users. This
                 could include writing different ad copy, using Facebook connect
                 to include Like and sharing buttons, or presenting user-generated
                 content such as videos or reviews instead of product information.

                                                                                                 Rewarding Likes
                                                                                                 There are countless ways
                                                                                                 to reward Facebook users
                                                                                                 for liking your brand,
                                                                                                 including fan-only sales
                                                                                                 or coupon codes. To the
                                                                                                 left is an example of a
                                                                                                 RueLaLa promotion giving
                                                                                                 fans access to a private
                                                                                                 sale in exchange for liking
                                                                                                 the brand’s page.

                                   Copyright © 2011 Marin Software, Inc. All rights reserved.                                  12
The Search Marketer’s Guide to Successful Facebook Ads

                 Measure Conversions

                 A number of the advertisers we spoke to started advertising on Facebook as an experiment. They
                 weren’t specifically thinking about what type of conversions they were driving, nor did they know
                 what type of performance to expect. However, a cardinal rule of online marketing still applies
                 – you need to track conversions. Once you define the goal of your campaign, whether you want
                 to drive fans, sales or installations, an important step is to track these actions and measure
                 cost-per-conversion. Because many Facebook advertising programs drive a variety of different
                 conversion types, you might need to track multiple conversion types. Facebook’s integrated
                 tracking solution automatically tracks likes, RVSPs, and application installations within the
                 social network. With this data, you can understand your cost-per-conversion and begin optimiz-
                 ing spend. If ads are driving clicks off of Facebook, you can use any third-party tracking system
                 to monitor conversions, in the same way you would for search or display ads. Just be sure you
                 regularly evaluate the cost of conversions and adjust budgets and bids accordingly.

                 Facebook Influences Search

                 Although Facebook users spend a significant amount of time online within the social network,
                 they’re not browsing in a vacuum. Consumers exposed to a brand’s social media content are
                 actually 50% more likely to click on paid search ads and 1.7 times more likely to purchase
                 through search. As you manage and optimize Facebook Ads, it is important to analyze cross-
                 channel performance and adjust spend and messaging accordingly. Your Facebook and search
                 audiences overlap, and it is critical that paid search campaigns are optimized for the increased
                 traffic driven by the social network. When launching new Facebook Ads, advertisers should pay
                 attention to the impact these ads have on paid search performance and attribute appropriately.
                 Start by tracking users across channels to understand which channels combine to drive sales
                 and specific paths to conversion. Understanding the interaction between channels should allow
                 you to quantify the value of companies for budgeting purposes, and to adjust the tone of the
                 media on each site.

                 Above, in the screenshot from a Marin Paths report, most users who interacted with both paid
                 search and Facebook saw the Facebook Ads first. In this case, the advertiser could adjust the
                 tone of the Facebook messaging to be more focused on top-of-funnel interactions, and make
                 sure paid search creative encourages a final purchase or conversion.

                                   Copyright © 2011 Marin Software, Inc. All rights reserved.                        13
The Search Marketer’s Guide to Successful Facebook Ads

                     Quick Facebook Ad Don’ts:
                     • Don’t over-target – Ads that are targeted to too-small of an audience won’t get any traffic or
                       conversions. Be sure your ad’s reach is over 100 people.
                     • Don’t over-punctuate – Facebook will disapprove any ad that is overly punctuated so ‘Free!!!!!’
                       or ‘Love PowPow Sports?!?” won’t get approved.
                     • Don’t over-capitalize – All-cap headlines or weirdly capitalized words will not make it through
                       Facebook’s approval process either.
                     • Don’t try to create an ad as Paused – As you’re getting started, don’t think your new add will
                       be hidden if it is “Paused.” Facebook reviews new ads as paused, but if ads are approved,
                       they will turn them on.

                 These tips should get you started on the road to a successful Facebook advertising program, but
                 the buck doesn’t stop there. Marketing campaigns require continued analysis and adjustments
                 for optimal performance. Don’t underestimate the value of analytics and daily reporting. Just
                 because you may not be directly driving sales from Facebook ads doesn’t mean there isn’t an
                 opportunity to optimize for downstream conversions.

                 Not only will you need to adjust to the performance of your campaigns, but we as marketers will
                 need to continue evolving with Facebook solution as its advertising tools change. As we men-
                 tioned earlier, most organizations are still figuring out how to best leverage Facebook Ads and
                 we expect Facebook to grow with them. However, building a fan base now, before cost-per-likes
                 begin to rise, can work to your advantage. Marketers looking to get a jumpstart on testing and
                 campaign automation should consider leveraging an advertising management platform to do
                 the heavy lifting. Marin Software’s platform is fully integrated with Facebook’s API and enables
                 marketers to efficiently follow the best practices we have discovered through a growing client
                 base of large-scale advertisers and agencies.

                                    Copyright © 2011 Marin Software, Inc. All rights reserved.                           14
The Search Marketer’s Guide to Successful Facebook Ads

                 About Marin Software
                 Marin Software is a leading provider of online advertising management solutions for agencies
                 and advertisers. Offering an integrated platform for managing search, display, and social market-
                 ing, Marin Software helps enterprises save time and improve financial performance by increas-
                 ing marketing insight, efficiency, and effectiveness. Headquartered in San Francisco, with of-
                 fices worldwide, Marin Software runs marketing campaigns for over 800 clients managing more
                 than $1.8 Billion in annualized ad spend in 47 countries.

                 Marin Software provides a complete workflow, analysis, and optimization solution for marketers
                 using Facebook Ads, saving time and improving financial performance. Marketers can easily
                 analyze the performance of Facebook Campaigns, edit targeting parameters, and optimize bids
                 to meet business goals. Unique solutions for Facebook Ads deliver automated audience segmen-
                 tation and rotation of creative to increase advertising effectiveness and ROI.

                 Like this paper? Tweet about it (

                                   Copyright © 2011 Marin Software, Inc. All rights reserved.                        15
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