Facebook has published a new study which examines the effectiveness of traditional video approaches – i.e. TV ads – when looking to reach modern, mobile consumers.
Working with Metrixlab, Facebook commissioned a study of some 759 video ads from 300+ brands, across nine verticals, and distributed across 25 countries. The researchers surveyed video viewers to get their responses on brand recall, then collated them relative to each approach.
The core of their findings was this:
“We discovered that ads created for mobile first stand out on Facebook and Instagram, and perform better across a range of different metrics.”
The first area they looked at was brand recall, separating the video approaches into three distinct categories.
We all know the drill: It’s all about promoting your “unicorns” – the top 1-3% of your best content and/or offers, the ones with unusually high engagement rates, e.g. click-through rates of 10% or higher.
Why? Facebook sponsored posts with high engagement rates get assigned high Relevance Scores, which get rewarded by the Facebook Ad algorithm through increased exposure at lower cost.
The cost per click for a sponsored post with 1% engagement rate might be around $3-5 per click, but if you can raise the engagement rate to 10%, your CPC will fall to around 25 cents.
But how do you make the content you’re trying to promote get 10%+ click-through rates?
When Facebook replaced its old Interest Targeting feature with Audience Optimisation in 2016, there was plenty of speculation about whether the new feature would improve on the limitations of its unpopular predecessor.
After the release of Preferred Audience Optimization, Facebook announced to publishers that the new interest tags “do not limit reach.” Moreover, the social network, which generates well over 10% of all organic traffic to online publishers’ websites, promised that the use of the new interest tags would increase click-through rates.
Surprised by this result, we hypothesised that our algorithm might not have generated high-quality interest tags.
We therefore decided that we should repeat our experiment, but this time with randomly generated tags. Using the same experimental design as before, we shared posts with random tags and posts without interest tags on alternating days. After 4 weeks, we compared median impressions, clicks and CTRs achieved by posts tagged with random interest tags to the figures for untagged posts.
Facebook is bringing “dark posts” into the light in response to the election interference on social media last year, and the new rules will impact all advertisers.
On Friday, Facebook revealed a new system of disclosing what groups and companies paid for ads on its platform: Any ads running on Facebook will be readily viewable by anyone.
That means no more so-called dark posts, ads that target only a particular set of people but are invisible otherwise because they never appear as posts on a brand or group’s page. The ads themselves will remain available—only now they’ll be visible to all.
The transparency tools are a reaction to Facebook’s discovery that Russian provocateurs had targeted paid ads from misleading pages during the last election cycle.
The shadowy groups thrived in the opaque world of Facebook’s automated ad tools with little if any oversight. Now there will be a “view ads” icon on every page that will show exactly what messages that page’s operator is buying.
The wider impact for marketers is that until now Facebook advertising has been a black box, where brands had only limited visibility into the media strategies of rivals. Unlike on TV, for example, Coca-Cola couldn’t see what creative work, messaging or products Pepsi was pushing on Facebook, when, how often or to whom.
Facebook’s new plan to disclose ads, which is similar to a plan Twitter described this week, will open a whole new trove of market research for brands looking for intel on rivals. It’s the kind of transparency the market has wanted for years, too.
“I think brands and agencies will likely use this feature to understand what the competition is doing,” says Jill Sherman, head of social media at DigitasLBi. “Until now, only organic content has been searchable, and not very representative of a brand’s efforts in social spaces.”
Brands often use dark posts as a way of testing ads without having to show the whole world their homework, which is convenient when an ad misses the mark or, worse, offends people. Now, the test ads will be attached to their pages of origin for as long as they are running.
The testing was one of the powers enjoyed by the foreign actors during the presidential campaign, who refined their divisive messages to improve their ability to stir up their targets. The groups masqueraded as political issues organizations, taking up topics like gun control, abortion, immigration, gay rights and other issues that rile up Americans.
Many of the groups ran active Facebook and Twitter accounts. Facebook says it has found 470 groups with suspected ties to Russia that bought at least $100,000 in advertising.
Major internet companies have been called to Congress to give testimony on Wednesday. And the federal government is considering new laws to force more transparency around election ads. The new disclosure tools are part of the digital marketing industry’s effort to show that it can still regulate itself.
Both companies are taking transparency even further for election-related ads.
For those, advertisers would show who was targeted with the ads and how much was spent. On Facebook, there would be a searchable database that keeps ads for four years.
“When it comes to advertising on Facebook, people should be able to tell who the advertiser is and see the ads they’re running, especially for political ads,” said Rob Goldman, Facebook’s VP of ads, in a blog post announcing the new policies.
Facebook said the new transparency tools will likely be fully functioning by the midterm elections in 2018. Tests will start in Canada before the system reaches the U.S. by summer, Facebook said.
As far as the advertising world is concerned, brands will just have to adjust.
“In this new age of ad transparency, I predict most clients will both love and hate this evolution,” says Thomas Goldberg, senior director of paid media at Fullscreen. “They’ll love being able to reliably track competitor activity, but hate it given their own vulnerability to competitors’ research.”
The Hot Topics reports are always a good read – even if you’re confident that you know your target market, there are always some interesting anomalies and points of interest to consider. And while the data is necessarily behind time, so you can’t act on all of these trends straight away, they can help inform your content choices and approach moving forward, particularly in the case of seasonal events.