Facebook is one of my favorite channels to advertise on because there are many different levers you can use when it comes to targeting and reaching the right prospects for your business. To imagine that there’s 1.35 billion monthly active users that I can target with my ads makes me feel like I have the world at my finger tips.
Most marketers are familiar with Facebook’s basic targeting capabilities using interests and demographic data, but what if you could target people who have characteristics that are like the people who visit your website or even better – the people who are likely to make a purchase or fill out a form? Say hello to lookalike audiences, a marketer’s new best friend. By building a lookalike audience, you can target and reach some of the most relevant prospects for your business.
In this post, I will quickly walk you through how to build lookalikes based on your website and conversion data, two objectives with minimal risk that has proven success in the campaigns I’ve run.
1. Go into Facebook’s Ad Manager and navigate over to the left side navigation and click on Audiences. If you are completely new at this, Facebook will guide you step-by step.
2. If you haven’t yet, there are two pixels you will need to install:
Custom Audience: You need to place a custom audience pixel on all pages of your website. You can go here for more information on where to find the code, if not already presented to you in step one: https://developers.facebook.com/docs/ads-for-websites/website-custom-audiences/getting-started#install-the-pixel
Conversion Tracking: You will need to place a pixel where your conversion events are captured. Go to the left side navigation and click on Conversion Tracking, then navigate your mouse over to the upper right hand corner and click on the green button to Create Pixel.
If you only want to create lookalike audiences based on your conversion tracking pixels, you need to first setup the tracking pixels and skip ahead to: PART 3: CREATE LOOKALIKES USING FACEBOOK CONVERSION DATA & WEBSITE CUSTOM AUDIENCES.
If you want to create lookalike audiences based on your website visitors, you will first need to create custom audiences for all -or specific sections of your website, so please continue reading.
1. To begin, make sure you’re in Audiences then navigate your mouse over to the upper right hand corner and click on the green button to Create Audience > Custom Audience. In the screenshot below, you will see the different option types. I suggest using “People visiting specific web pages but not others” to build out something similar to the following, if you’re looking to target and optimize for conversions:
All Visitors Excluding Career Visitors:
The idea here is to grab the people who are visiting your website because they most likely went there because they are interested in your product and to exclude people who are looking for a job.
Conversions (Example: Shopping Cart Confirmation, Registration Completion, Download Confirmation)
You want to create a bucket to capture all the people who have converted on your website. When you create a lookalike audience based on this custom audience, you can find other people who have characteristics that are likely to be interested in your product with a higher probability to convert.
Once you’ve setup your conversion tracking pixel and completed creating your custom audience segments, you can build a lookalike audience. To do this, navigate your mouse over to the upper right hand corner and click on green button again to Create Audience > Lookalike Audience. In Source, populate it with one of the segments you created and choose the level of similarity to your source. I typically select the lowest level because it’s less risky and most similar to your custom audience. When complete, continue to build out a lookalike for each custom audience or conversion tracking pixel you desire.
Note: If you decide to create both website conversion and conversion tracking pixel lookalikes, you should note that the two may overlap. The difference between the two is using the Facebook conversion pixel as a source will allow you to target the lookalikes of people who converted through your Facebook ads versus targeting lookalikes of everyone who converts on your website no matter what source they come from. To prevent that overlap, you could exclude those who come from Facebook Ads at the custom audience level, if your URL parameters are consistent, to filter it out. Example:
Facebook says “Keep in mind it may take 6 to 24 hours for your Lookalike Audience to be created. After that, it’ll refresh every 3 to 7 days as long as you’re still actively targeting ads to that audience.”
If you’re interested in more posts about lookalikes and use Twitter Ads, I did a post on 3 Creative Ways to Use and Target Lookalikes Using Twitter Ads that you may want to check out, too. Happy marketing!
In early October, Facebook announced the second phase of their migration to a new campaign structure for advertisers. These campaign structure updates are being rolled out in order to make Facebook campaign management and reporting easier and more insightful for advertisers. As part of the migration, all targeting, placement and bid settings will be moved from the ad to the ad set level for new campaigns created within Ad Manager or Power Editor.
To help get advertisers up-to-speed on the November 14th settings update, we have provided three quick tips to consider as you begin to manage your Facebook campaigns with the new group-level targeting settings:
Facebook offers a variety of campaign objectives for which you can base your campaign taxonomy, reporting and optimization efforts around. Example campaign objectives provided by Facebook include clicks to website, website conversions, and page post engagement. In addition to these “out of the box” Facebook objectives, many advertisers optimize towards revenue based objectives like ROI, ROAS or profit margin by integrating their sales revenue from first or third party sources into our system and tying to back to campaign spend. Regardless of the desired goal, advertisers should make sure they organize their campaigns around the specific business outcomes they expect to drive with their investment.
For Facebook advertisers, audience-focused marketing means separating each audience segment into individual groups, and optimizing towards the ROI of each segment. To implement this new group-level management strategy in Marin, advertisers should keep all other group settings consistent. That way, if one group performs better than another, they will be able to correlate the performance back to the targeting as opposed to another factor such as a higher bid. This approach will help determine the most responsive audience and reduce the chance of your ad sets competing against each other for the same audience.
Facebook app usage on mobile devices has continually increased every quarter ordering to the company’s public investor reports. In fact, more than 83% of Facebook users now visit the app via mobile devices every month. With this in mind, advertisers should ensure that they take advantage of all of the placement opportunities Facebook offers, especially mobile placements. The new group settings changes present new opportunities for managing placements in our platform. Depending on their needs, advertisers can target more than one placement for each group in our system in order to maximize delivery. Alternatively, advertisers can target one placement per group to see which one drives the best results.
In order to drive optimal performance, Facebook advertisers should regularly test and iterate creative attributes like image, title, and description in order to understand the which attributes resonate with each audience segment. We recommend creating a small variety of ads with variations in order to test against each audience segment you have created in Step 1. Then, place the creative variations in each audience-focused group. Finally, use your platform’s A/B testing feature to understand the “winning” and “losing” creative based on your test criteria. Iterate the winning creative further and conduct additional tests within each audience-themed group.
As summer winds down and the upcoming school year looms, it looks like parents get back to Facebooking. Looking at the seasonality of clicks across Facebook, Google, and Bing it appears Facebook experiences a huge surge in clicks as summer comes to a close, more than likely brought on by back-to-school-itis.
In July, as we become fixated with fun in the sun, Facebook experiences its second lowest volume of ad clicks at a level 25% below the baseline (January). Makes sense. There are road trips and barbecues to get to. But as summer starts to give into fall and we begin to accept the onslaught of responsibilities that come with the change in season, ad clicks on Facebook climb. In fact it’s a 38 point swing from July to August. From there on out it is pretty much up and to the right for Facebook the remainder of the year as back-to-school gives way to the holiday season.
On the other hand, Search (Google and Bing) remain fairly consistent throughout the year with the typical rise in the fourth quarter due to the holiday frenzy. It appears Facebook is influenced much more by seasonality throughout the year. I suspect it has to do with the social nature of the site. Search benefits from being a more utilitarian medium that become an integral part of our lives even when on vacation. Also, Google and Bing have been at the game a little longer while Facebook is still figuring out how best to monetize its user base. Likewise, advertisers have a solid decade and a half of experience with search under their belts; tweaking campaigns to fit the seasons is a known exercise.
Will be interesting to see how soon the seasonality of Facebook clicks start to mirror search.
Have some thoughts you’d like to ad? Be sure to post them in the comments section below!
On April 30th, Facebook unveiled a mobile ad network called “Facebook Audience Network.” Currently in beta, access to the ad network is limited to a small number of “top managed mobile app advertisers.” However, the plan is to eventually make it available to all mobile app advertisers.
The initial version of the Facebook Audience Network will be limited to mobile app install ads, although Facebook has indicated that they intend to support a variety of marketing objectives including in-store and online sales. Advertisers will be able to serve app install ads, traditional mobile banners, and interstitial creative formats in Facebook’s new network. They will also be able to target Facebook users via Custom Audiences, Core Audiences, and Look-Alike Audiences. Participating beta advertisers can enable targeting on the Facebook Audience Network at the Ad level, along with existing device placement options. Therefore, advertisers will be able to report and analyze the performance of ads placed on the Audience Network performance separately from ads placed on the Facebook platform.
Contrary to popular speculation, the Facebook login ID will not be the key connector to retarget users between mobile apps on the network. In other words, mobile app users are not required to be logged into apps using Facebook in order to received targeted ads through the network. Rather, Facebook will compare device IDs and data points with other app developers to find common users, which will identify which apps are installed on a user’s device.
With the launch of this new mobile ad network, Facebook stands to compete with Google AdMob and other established networks capitalizing on the rapid growth of mobile app usage. Facebook has been moving in this direction over the past year, with a laser-focus on growing its mobile advertising business – and for good reason.
First, Facebook’s mobile user base has evolved into the most active and engaged of any major digital platform in the world. More time is spent on Facebook than any other mobile platform or website and, according to their latest earnings report, their mobile market share growth is 2.4 times greater than Google’s.
Second, Facebook has realized a notable uptick in users who access the platform only on mobile devices. In fact, 74% of the social network’s daily active users exhibit this behavior. Also, the growth rate of users who only access Facebook via mobile is six times higher than the overall growth rate. These statistics demonstrate why Facebook is so intent on improving the mobile experience for users and advertisers. They have clearly established one of the best mobile audiences of any channel or publisher.
Facebook Audience Network’s creation suggests the company is now seeking an even bigger piece of the overall mobile app advertising market. According to eMarketer, the number of mobile apps has increased 43% year-over-year to over 2 million while the number of mobile app downloads grew by only 30%. This gap indicates that marketers need better ways to help mobile users discover apps.
Recognizing this opportunity, Facebook released mobile app ads more than a year ago, designed to drive users toward installing and engaging with mobile apps. These have been a hit with advertisers, and have by measure of spend have surpassed Google’s app install ad product (mobile app install extensions) as the leading mobile app advertising product. Facebook Audience Network is poised to take a prominent position in the mobile app advertising market, which has grown to an estimated 30% of mobile advertising as reported by eMarketer.
When considering Facebook’s sophisticated, unique audience targeting capabilities, advertisers have a lot be excited about with the launch of the new ad network. Most mobile ad networks (Google AdMob and Millennial Media, for example) target mobile app users based on where they have been and what they have previously downloaded. For instance, a mobile app on the AdMob network may serve a dietary supplement ad to somebody who previously downloaded a fitness app.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with this approach, Facebook’s mobile ad network is primed to take mobile targeting to another level. On the Facebook mobile ad network, advertisers will not only be able to target users by what they’ve done (via Custom Audiences and Partner Categories) but also by who they are (Core Audiences). This approach to audience targeting is highly differentiated from other ad networks, and should intrigue advertisers to experiment with ad network buys when the product becomes generally available.
In late November, news broke that Facebook was planning a major overhaul to its advertising campaign structure in Q1. The revised campaign structure will include a new management “level” called the Ad Set, that will sit in between the Campaign and Ad levels.
Since the initial information leak, little has been publicly shared from Facebook as to what the new campaign structure will look like, how it will benefit advertisers, and how their workflow will be impacted. Sensing the significance of the overhaul, you may remember that we shared our thoughts here on the blog soon after.
After months of waiting, Facebook recently made an official announcement on the Facebook for Business blog. They confirmed that existing Facebook campaigns will be migrated on March 4th (tomorrow!). The new structure is described as a “simpler way to organize and optimize campaigns on Facebook,” and is aimed to improve advertiser workflow, reporting and optimization.
Today’s Facebook marketers may have hundreds or thousands of campaigns within an account targeting different audiences and objectives. For example, an advertiser could have 15% of their campaigns focused on acquiring more fans, 20% focused on driving mobile or desktop app engagement, and 65% focused on website acquisition toward an ROI objective. Managing thousands of campaigns across hundreds of targeted audiences with mixed objectives can be confusing and problematic for advertisers without a sophisticated management platform.
By moving to a new “3-tiered” campaign taxonomy, Facebook hopes to provide marketers with a better way to organize campaigns targeting similar business objectives. Using the example above, marketers will now be able to look at campaigns with “ROI” objectives and quickly determine which target audiences (specified at the Ad Set level) are driving the best performance. If a marketer wants to understand which creative design or message resonates best with a particular audience for a given objective, the marketer can then drill into the Ad Set and analyze Ad-level performance.
Marin has been working diligently on the new campaign structure since October and is excited to roll it out to our customers. We expect the impact to our customer’s workflow to be positive for two reasons. First, Marin’s platform architecture has been built on a three-tiered campaign structure since we went GA in 2007. What this means is that our Facebook advertising customers who also use our product for Search and Display will finally have a consistent campaign taxonomy across all their channels. Second, this restructure will allow for an even more streamlined and favorable cross-channel workflow and analytics experience.
As a Marin Facebook advertiser, here is what you can expect:
Your Existing Campaigns
Marin has partnered with Facebook to transition our mutual clients on Friday March 14th, in accordance with our i48 release. On this date, existing campaigns will be migrated to the new structure automatically, both in Facebook and in Marin. No additional steps will be required of the advertiser. The campaign will simply inherit the new setting, the “Objective.”
Creation of Ad Sets
Ad Sets will be created between the Campaign and Ad levels and inherit the settings of your existing campaigns.
Nothing will happen to your Ads as a result of the migration – everything will remain the same.
Your Customer Success Team is Here to Help
Marin believes in offering industry-leading support and service to our Facebook customers. We know this transition has big implications, and we want to be there to help. Please reach out to your Customer Success Team soon to discuss any questions or concerns about the transition. Following the transition, they will be eager to help you assimilate into your new workflow in Marin.
Best Practices Webinar!
On Tuesday, March 11, Marin will be holding a webinar for our customers to go through our new improved UI. We will be will also cover best practices for campaign creation, editing, and optimization with the new structure. Marin customers will be receiving an invitation via email in the coming days, so stay tuned!
Did you know? Only 2% of website visitors convert on their first visit. While that’s a scary thought for marketers, thankfully retargeting allows us to zero in on the other 98% of visitors who have already expressed interest but need a further nudge to buy.
Many publishers are doing cool things with retargeting, but we want to call out Facebook’s official launch of Custom Audiences from Your Website as a real game-changer. By simply appending Facebook’s tracking pixel, any marketer can now segment website visitors into target audiences and re-engage them with highly targeted messages across the world’s largest social network. Even better, Custom Audiences from Your Website actually extends beyond desktop, making it the first true cross-device retargeting solution. For more details on this feature, check out our full-length explanation here.
So how can you take advantage of this new solution? Consider these 7 ways to reach, engage, nurture, and acquire customers across devices:
1) Retarget website visitors. Re-engage Facebook users who bounced from your site without converting. Give them a reason to reconsider your brand with a call to action that is tailored to the device they are using.
2) Retarget at the product level. It’s now possible to re-engage visitors based on the products or services they last viewed on your website. Create a Custom Audience based on a segment of website visitors who viewed a particular category of products, and then reach out to them with tailored creative and messaging.
3) Retarget mobile app users on desktop. Using Custom Audiences from Your Website, marketers can more easily connect the dots between customers who use their mobile app but purchase on another device.
4) Retarget website visitors on mobile. It’s also possible to retarget visitors who have come to your website through a desktop device with a mobile targeted ad. This is a great way to reach users while they are on-the-go with geo-specific mobile campaigns. Consider using a call to action that encourages users to stop by a nearby retail location.
5) Cross-sell or up-sell to existing customers. Custom Audiences offers a great opportunity to engage with existing, high-value customers. Try creating new segments in Facebook based on converting visitors. Then re-engage on Facebook with an offer, reward, or suggestion of a complementary product.
6) Nurture leads and engage current customers. To use Facebook remarketing as a substitute or complement to your email programs, create new Facebook campaigns with the specific goal of customer or lead outreach, and tailor your KPIs accordingly. For example, run Facebook ads to update your customers on new blog posts, white papers, or events.
7) Retarget users on Facebook based on search history. Use a tool like Marin to combine the power of Custom Audiences with search retargeting. This will allow you to map the buying intentions and potential lifetime value of your website visitors, so you can budget and bid more effectively.
For more info on Custom Audiences, get the full analysis here. You may also want to check out The 2014 Definitive Facebook Advertising Playbook, or the Product Tour: Managing Facebook Ads with Marin. Happy retargeting!
Facebook has a lot of users internationally, a lot. In fact, North America represents just 15% of Facebook users. Asia Pacific, on the other hand, has the lion’s share of users at 28%. Yet according to our recent analysis, North America receives roughly 52% of ad spend while Asia Pacific attracts just 11% of ad dollars. Facebook’s recent financials reported the US and Canada account for 47% of revenue in Q4.
The data not only shows a greenfield opportunity for international advertisers, but also indicates that Facebook has room to grow from an international revenue standpoint.
We all know mobile is hot here, but it’s even hotter internationally. According to Google’s Our Mobile Planet report in 2013, 73.8% of people within the United Arab Emirates own a smartphone. In South Korea, it’s 73%. As much as we love our phones here, the U.S. comes in 13th at 56.4%.
WhatsApp is huge internationally and understandably so. While sending text, voice, photo and video messages via data as opposed to SMS may have limited appeal in the U.S., internationally it’s a big deal. WhatsApp has 450 million active users (Twitter has 271 million) in large part because the app lets users send messages free of those annoying and expensive international messaging fees. All you need is a phone with a data connection, the app, and $1 for the annual subscription fee. That’s it. You can message your friends and family in a neighboring country all you want.
Most Facebook users access the social site via their phones. In the last year Facebook took major steps to monetize its mobile users to the tune of $1 billion in mobile revenue in Q4. Yet, the majority of that revenue comes from the U.S. and Canada, regions that rank about 13th and 14th respectively in smartphone penetration and carry just 15% of Facebook users.
At the heart of Facebook and WhatsApp is the ability to communicate and stay in touch with friends and family. Buying WhatsApp not only gives Facebook a more streamlined approach to that communication, but it just significantly upped Facebook’s mobile presence internationally, particularly in regions with high mobile usage that they’ve otherwise been unable to capitalize on.
While there are no immediate plans, advertisers have to be excited by the potential of the two services fusing, or at the possibility of an ad supported version of WhatsApp in the future.
For more details, download International Facebook Advertising: A Greenfield Opportunity to Engage a Massive Global Audience.
Facebook is 10 years old today. Of course in Internet years, that’s like 35…
In the last 10 years the social site has gone from an obscure directory of sorts for Harvard students – originally called Facemash – to a social network juggernaut with over 1.2 billion users. That’s a lot of people. Throw in the fact people spend more time on Facebook than any other site and one could argue Facebook has become the destination online. By the way, if you’re curious how much time you personally have spent on Facebook, Time put together this depressing fun app.
From an advertising perspective, Facebook has certainly also come a long way, particularly in the last couple of years. Advertising on the social network has evolved from standard display ads off to the right – which hardly anyone clicked on – to native advertising, FBX and just released Customer Audiences, which get a lot of clicks. The social site has even tweaked its algorithm so corporate Page posts don’t show up as much in the News Feed (wanna play, gotta pay).
As much as users may be “annoyed” by ads, the ad dollars are key. They not only keep Facebook running, but keep the site competitive. In a world filled with social sites and apps – Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Snapchat, Kik, etc. – attracting ad dollars becomes as critical as cultivating a user group. The Facebook user experience is fairly solidified, so I suspect as we enter the next decade of Facebook the biggest advancements will come on the advertising side.
Time will tell.
Facebook advertising experienced an explosion in growth during the 2013 Thanksgiving holiday shopping week, driving significant increases for retailers across-the-board in key performance areas.
Between November 26 and December 2 2013, Marin clients increased their spend markedly when compared to this timeframe in 2012. According to Marin Software data, one large retailer (with over $10 Billion in annual revenue) spent 110% more than they did in 2012, driving 120% more clicks. This data suggests retailers were more than willing to increase their holiday advertising budgets on Facebook and take advantage of the user acquisition-focused creative, placement and targeting options introduced in 2013.
This large retailer also received 135% more Facebook ad impressions during the 2013 Thanksgiving holiday season compared to 2012. The significant increase in YoY impressions is likely explained by Facebook’s rapidly growing user base (+21% user base**), which has expanded advertiser reach. Retailers may have also been willing to bid more aggressively on high value target audiences this Thanksgiving.
Of all the dramatic YoY performance gains retailers experienced on Facebook this holiday shopping season, the most interesting is the steep increase in conversions. Retailers drove more online conversions from Facebook advertising in 2013 with a proportionally lower increase in budget. In our analysis, we saw a 200% increase in conversions with only a 110% increase in spend. This impressive ROI highlights Facebook’s continued evolution as a powerful performance marketing channel.
Over the past year, millions of advertisers have rushed to take advantage of the platform’s simplified approach to performance marketing. This data suggests that Facebook’s “simplified” approach may be working for retailers, especially during peak seasonal periods of high demand. The YoY improvements in cost per conversion suggest marketers are becoming more sophisticated with campaign implementation and creative optimization, in most cases with the help of online marketing platforms.
*The data for this analysis reflects a single enterprise retail advertiser with over $10 Billion in annual revenue and more than 700 store locations across the US. As such, our findings skew towards the performance of larger retailers. However, the size and broad geographic coverage of this retailer enables us to provide an analysis of Facebook ads performance across the retail sector from 11/26/13 through 12/02/13. All data is accurate as of 12/2/13, but subject to change; and represents a year over year analysis of the same holiday time period.
** Source: Publicly available Facebook Q3 2013 earnings report data, acquired through businessinsider.com
Facebook® is a registered trademark of Facebook Inc.
Just when the dust settled from Google’s Enhanced Campaign migrations, the online marketing industry has once again been shaken with a major change, this time from Facebook.
On Thursday, Facebook announced that they will be overhauling the campaign structure for their entire advertising program with a target launch date of February 14, 2014. Facebook will be adding an additional layer to their existing campaign/ad structure with the aim of making it easier to organize campaigns, control budgets, and measure performance.
The new campaign taxonomy will have an additional level – the “ad set” – between campaigns and ads. As part of the initial rollout, the ad set will replace the current campaign level and an additional level will be created between the account and ad set. There will be no changes to ads (the most granular Facebook campaign object) as part of the initial roll out. Effectively, the new structure will look like this:
According to Facebook, the changes are meant to provide advertisers with a better way to organize their campaign efforts toward a single objective. Today, advertisers can have hundreds of campaigns in a single account, all focused on different objectives. For example, an advertiser may have 15% of their campaigns focused on acquiring more fans, 20% focused on driving mobile or desktop app engagement, and 65% focused on website acquisition toward an ROI objective. Managing thousands of campaigns across hundreds of targeted audiences with mixed objectives can be confusing and problematic for advertisers without a sophisticated management platform.
With the new campaign hierarchy, Facebook aims to provide advertisers with a way to group campaigns around a single objective, which will reside in their new “campaign” tier. Facebook is likely betting that their new campaign structure will result in improvements in management and reporting.
Another possible motive for the change is the fact that the Facebook algorithm currently does not allow advertisers to easily test multiple audiences within a single campaign. For example, if you want to know whether your advertising drives better results from male or female target audiences, you would need to set up separate campaigns each targeting a different gender. Ideally, an advertiser should be able to test performance against two audiences within the same campaign (similar to A/B testing creatives in a single ad group in Google or Bing). However, because the Facebook algorithm leverages historical audience data at the campaign level, advertisers cannot execute a fair A/B test. With the creation of ad sets, I believe Facebook is attempting to address the A/B ad testing challenges inherent to its algorithm and will encourage advertisers to use the ad sets as creative test groups.
Marin sees Facebook’s announcement as a positive and is excited for the upcoming changes. With more than three years as an API partner, our platform is in a position to quickly deliver an intuitive solution for managing these changes. When Marin first joined the Facebook API partner program in 2010, our ads tool was built with the same exact “three tier” campaign Facebook structure. Our familiarity and experience with the exact same model Facebook is proposing should create exciting opportunities for our customers and help them reach their business objectives faster than ever before.