Everything Facebook tells you in its “Ads Best Practices” is wrong. it also seems the Ads Best Practices are optimized to make Facebook as much money as possible, while costing you, the ad buyer, as much as possible. This may be a good short term strategy for Facebook, but the truth is most ad buyers don’t stick with Facebook ads because they don’t convert well. As advertisers don’t tend to stick with things that don’t work, one would think this was a bad long term strategy. Judging by my Facebook home page, which is covered in ads for, “Local Single” “Asian Singles” and “Christian Singles” not “Drink Mountain Dew” and “Eat Popchips” which I might like, or consider clicking on to see a new flavor of, even the target is off.
I have gone through the Facebook Ads Best Practices and revised them for you.
I apologize in advance for using Block Quotes in reverse for this article, with my comments quoted instead of the Facebook Ads Best Practices.
1. Identify your advertising goals
As an advertiser paying for clicks, you are indicating that what is most important to you is driving traffic to a page on Facebook or your own website. You will want to focus on making sure your ad is highly targeted to the most relevant, appropriate audience. Your landing page should be set up to let users easily find what your ad offers.
This is true in Google Adwords, where strong targeting reduces your cost, because while you pay CPC, Google tries hard to optimize for their CPM. As a result Google rewards you for your Click Through Percentage. Facebook does not, so while targeting is important, if you over target you drive your CPC up (I will explain later).
As an advertiser paying for views (impressions), you are indicating that it is most important for users to see your ad. You will want to focus on making your ad as clear and informative as possible and having your brand or company’s name be easily recognized.
If you are paying for views, your goal should be to get as many clicks as possible because your CPC is based on the clicks per 1000 impressions. This is why so many of the Singles ads feature half naked busty girls with vague messages, they want clicks and they want them cheap. Oddly the cheapest way to get Views it so pay per click and have an ad no one would click. Like a picture of your logo and text that says “Drink Mt. Dew” it will have a very low click rate, so you can get lots of views between clicks, and all of those views are “free”.
Target the audience that you believe will be interested in your ad. For each ad, you can choose to target a particular location. Be sure to target only the locations that are relevant for your business or product. For example, if your service or event is only available in a particular area, target the appropriate region or city. Also, please be aware that an ad is typically best received if the ad is in that country’s primary language.
I love that this image shows exactly why you don’t want to have your targeting too narrow. The “correct” image is almost 30% more per click than the incorrect image. So unless the targeting is going to have 30% better conversion, go with the less targeted settings so that you can get more impressions, and more clicks at a lower price.
3. Keyword Targeting
Keywords are a powerful way to narrow the audience of your ad to people who have interests which correlate with your offer. Include your keywords in your ad text to show users that your ad relates to the people you are trying to reach.
Targeting people who Like X and Y is not a bad idea, but since which likes a person has changes the pricing drastically, it is often better to target demographics. Keywords work backwards of demographics, the more you put on the list the less you pay. So put on lots, even if they are so specific you don’t actually add anyone, so in this photography example I would add “digital images” and “DSLR” and other words that are photo related that almost no one has as a like.
4. Make your product stand out
Write clear, targeted ads with concise text that speaks directly to the audience you will reach. Be sure to highlight any special offers or unique features that differentiate you from the competition. If your goal is brand/company name recognition, we suggest using your company name in the ad title or somewhere in the body of the ad.
This is mostly true. If you are running CPC ads it is true for sure. If you are running CPM ads your ad should just put something people will want to click on in your ad, sell them when they get to your site.
5. Keep your ad simple
Create your ad so that it is as simple and easy to read as possible. Avoid long sentences or complex punctuation. Use simple, grammatically correct, complete sentences and language. Use proper punctuation, punctuate the end of sentences, put spaces after periods and commas, and don’t use hyphens in place of periods.
Don’t try to fit every detail about your product or service into the ad. Make it clear what your product or service is so a user can tell what your website will be about, but save the details for your landing page.
Wait, isn’t this the opposite of what you just told me? Again if you are running CPC be detailed, if you are running CPM be general.
6. Use a strong call-to-action
Your ad should convey a call-to-action along with the benefits of your product or service. A call-to-action encourages users to click on your ad and should explain to the user exactly what you expect them to do when they reach your landing page. Some call-to-action phrases include: buy, sell, order, browse, sign up, and get a quote.
This is advertising 101, and may be the only thing they got right in their whole guide.
7. Use an image
Put an attractive, relevant image in your ad that is appropriate for the product or service being advertised. The maximum image size is 110 pixels wide by 80 pixels tall, so text in images that are shrunk down to that size may be hard to read.
CPC vs CPM again. If you are running CPM use an image. If you are running CPC don’t. Unless you are using CPC as CPM buy doing the “Drink Mt. Dew” thing where your ad is just your brand with no call to action because you are trying to build awareness.
8. Landing pages
Your ad should direct users to the most relevant landing page. When a Facebook user clicks on your ad, they should be taken immediately to a page that is specific to the information or product in your ad.
You pay less if this landing page is on Facebook. So consider that. Facebook wants people to never leave Facebook, so if you are just running branding you should point people to a Fan page or Facebook apps page. If you are actually selling something sent people to the buy page.
9. Keep the user experience in mind
You should aim for your ads and their respective landing pages to be as attractive, easy to navigate, and informative as possible. Users may be less likely to click your ad if it does not accurately describe your product or service, if it is unclear where they will be directed after clicking, or if it is unclear what the benefit of clicking your ad would be. Make it easy to find important information by placing it prominently on the landing page. Users who have to click around to find the relevant information are more likely to leave your site.
Facebook didn’t take their own advice here. The user can’t tell where they are going, and don’t worry about that. Send people where ever you want, and don’t put the URL in the ad, unless you are doing a brand campaign and want the user to associate the URL with your brand.
10. Evaluate your campaign performance and make the necessary changes
Monitor your ad’s performance. Your click through rate (CTR) is a particularly good indicator of how well your ads are doing. You can also view your clicks, impressions and average CPC or CPM by checking your account.
Allow your ad performance to educate you about effective strategies for achieving your goals. As you observe your ads over time, you might notice things that are working especially well (or not so well). For example, if you find users aren’t responding to a particular call-to-action in your ad text, try a different call-to-action. If you are not getting as many clicks as you would like, try adjusting your targeting to be less restrictive if you have originally have been very aggressively targeting, or more restrictive if your targeting was initially very broad. If you are not getting as many impressions as you would like, try making your ad simpler and the product or brand easier to recognize.
Facebook randomly changes the prices and placements of ads, so looking at your stats won’t help you much, focus on what you pay per action, and evaluate based on that. Buying traffic from Facebook CPC almost never is cost effective unless you are using the CPC with no clicks method. CPM ads you often need to change the creative, because you can’t rick roll people more than twice with the same image, so by the time you have stats it is likely time to change your creative.
I buy a lot of ads through AdWords and have great results. I can predict in advance what will work in my AdWords campaigns. When buying Facebook ads I generally wait for a free voucher and pray things will work out well. This isn’t because I suck at Facebook ads; it’s because Facebook changes the rules every 90 days and you don’t get notice that the changes are coming, so something that is working may break, and something that wasn’t may suddenly start. I wouldn’t tell any one to run Facebook ads for anything other than artificially running up their Facebook fans, or promoting a Facebook App. There are some exceptions for small businesses, and really large brands. Doing a brand awareness campaign with just a logo as an ad on Facebook can be a good way to build brand recognition.
I have also done extremely targeted ads based on a users profile when I wanted to reach very small groups of users, like Sales Execs at a company, or when I was going to be at a conference and I wanted people to recognize my brand so they would say “I’ve heard of you I think I saw your ad on Facebook” but these are “hacks” for small spends with really high impact, not tricks for real marketing on a regular basis.