The numbers are in: Facebook has built the largest and most engaged audience on the planet, according to recent research from Marin Software.
With over 1.19 billion monthly active users, most of whom log in daily, Facebook remains an incredibly important avenue for marketers.
The News Feed Has Been Adopted As a Native Ad Vehicle
Put simply, native advertising is the practice of integrating content (ads) directly and seamlessly into the user experience.
Sponsored stories in Facebook’s News Feed, for example, would be considered a native ad. On the other hand, a traditional banner ad would not be considered native advertising.
Facebook launched News Feed ads in 2012 and marketers quickly realized the potential. In fact, spending on News Feed ads increased by 140% in Q3 of 2013 (compared to Q2).
That trend is unlikely to slow any time soon and for good reason. Compared to Facebook’s right-hand sidebar (RHS) ads, News Feed ads had:
– 44x higher clickthrough rates.
– 67% lower costs per click.
– 5x higher conversion rates.
– 64% lower cost per acquisition.
Marketers who want to have the most success in 2014 should begin allocating larger portions of their ad budgets to News Feed ads.
The increased visibility and engagement drastically improves the potential for a positive ROI and justifies Facebook ad spending.
Facebook Users Have Fully Embraced Mobile
You’ve likely heard it time and again: everything is going mobile. Facebook is no exception.
Facebook recently reported 74% of users visit the platform on a mobile app and this percentage has been increasing significantly throughout 2013.
As the trend toward mobile continues, savvy Facebook marketers will need to create new strategies for targeting these different devices.
One of the more prominent strategies currently being used is splitting campaigns into mobile-only and desktop-only. Based on Marin Software’s findings, this practice increased 45% between Q2 and Q3 2013.
Similar to the relationship between News Feed ads and right-hand sidebar ads, mobile-only ads have significantly outperformed desktop-only ads. Mobile-only ads had:
– 187% higher clickthrough rate.
– 22% lower cost-per-click.
Without a doubt, those marketers who get in line with this trend toward mobile will be the most successful in 2014.
Facebook Users Buy More from Brands They’ve Engaged With
Facebook has always provided advertisers a method of getting their message in front of users based on profile information.
However, there were limitations to that if users chose not to provide information or if this information didn’t necessarily reflect on a person’s buying habits.
In the words of Marin’s researchers:
Recognizing these limitations, in 2013 Facebook expanded the ways advertisers could target users by including web browsing behavior and purchase data. The new targeting feature, called Custom Audiences, enables advertisers to easily target and retarget Facebook users not only by the type of person they are but also by the type of potential buyer they are.
The addition of Custom Audiences is perhaps the most significant change Facebook has made for advertisers. Two major benefits of using Custom Audience advertising include:
The ability to advertise to leads captured from your website. You can use email leads from your website and create a Custom Audience segment that advertises specifically to those email leads within Facebook.
The ability to retarget website visitors. Custom Audiences can be created for segments of website visitors who abandoned their purchase during specific stages of the conversion process.
This allows businesses to “recapture” likely buyers by targeting Facebook ads with discounts or offers towards them.
In addition to these benefits of Custom Audiences, the data supports their effectiveness over Category / Interest Targeting. According to Marin, the cost-per-acquisition (CPA) is 64% lower with Custom Audiences compared to Category/Interest Targeting.
Facebook Users Engage “Fresh” Ads More Often
As always, ads need to be as compelling as possible in order to garner the most attention. This is even more true today as more and more advertisers move into the Facebook platform.
To get noticed, you need variation and differentiation.
Marin researchers suggest:
When the same ads are shown to the same targets over and over, “ad fatigue” can occur – causing consumers to not only ignore your ads but become irritated by your brand.
In order to maximize clickthrough rates, ad images and copy should be refreshed “every 2-3 days and in some cases as often as every hour.”
According to Marin’s data, advertisers who use ad rotation strategies experience:
– 35% higher clickthrough rates.
– 4% higher conversion rates.
– 38% lower cost-per-click.
– 34% lower cost-per-acquisition.
Long story short: If you want to be successful with Facebook advertising, you should have a clear, formal ad rotation strategy in place.
Many marketers may be right in their claim that Facebook is moving close to a “pay to play” model.
This doesn’t mean it’s time for a mass exodus. Facebook’s massive user base isn’t going away any time soon and, for that reason alone, marketers can’t cut loose.
Fortunately for those with an ad budget, Facebook has provided a number of very effective advertising avenues when used properly.
By following these four trends and investing in Facebook, it’s certainly possible to drive revenue at an attractive ROI in the coming year.