“Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Today’s column is written by David Serfaty, director of social advertising at Matomy Media Group.
Advertising on Facebook has undergone a dramatic transformation over the last year. It’s evolved from what was primarily an engagement-based platform to one that offers advertisers direct response and, ultimately, sales.
In late 2013, Facebook released a steady drip of more performance-based targeting options for advertisers. It pushed that further this year when it announced several new mobile ad initiatives at its F8 developer conference. And it went full bore with both on- and off-Facebook targeting and measurement capabilities with the relaunch last month of its Atlas ad server.
All of these changes and new advertising product launches point to one thing: Facebook wants to be marketers’ everything and everyday ad platform. Whether your brand wants to reach baseball fans in Kalamazoo, cricket players in Melbourne or dog sled racers in Fairbanks, Facebook is making the case for why it’s the only ad platform marketers need for engaging and acquiring consumers on Facebook or off.
But it doesn’t come cheap. One point seemingly missing from most marketers’ discussions about the power of Facebook advertising is this: You have to pay good money in order to engage with and acquire quality customers or users.
This point rings especially true on mobile, where newsfeed space is purposely limited so as not to spoil the user experience. This is where the promise of the Facebook Audience Network to broaden impression distribution is far from realized.
In simple economic terms, the price of Facebook user acquisition reflects the demand, and the demand is fully justified by the lifetime user value. If you want to be successful on Facebook at scale, you must be prepared to look at acquisition costs as a flexible metric and percentage return as the primary measure of success. Cautious media buyers will be familiar with the endless futility of starting low and building up slowly so as not to rock the CPA boat. Savvy media buyers know that Facebook is a platform that favors the bold: Spend big, optimize down, measure the ROI, repeat.
Sure, you can get by if you spend relative pennies on generic ads meant to appeal to as wide of an audience as possible. But doing so will net your brand poor-quality ad slots and poor-quality targeting, which in turn will yield irrelevant customers. That equals wasted time and money.
While Facebook may have fancied itself a few years ago as the go-to solution for marketers looking to quickly and cheaply acquire a few thousand “fans” with which to engage, it has, thankfully, moved well beyond this rather rudimentary form of digital advertising. Now that Facebook has built some of the ad industry’s most evolved and segmented targeting functionality, marketers suddenly have the ability to reach specific sets of consumers in ways few dreamed possible just two years ago.
This advanced level of targeting does come with a price, which is increasing as the ad targeting options multiply. But the increased cost of Facebook advertising comes with an added benefit: In the span of less than a year, Facebook has become the de facto leading ad platform for marketers looking to obtain sustained results from their ad campaigns. And with its more advanced off-targeting ad capabilities, thanks to the Atlas reboot, Facebook can offer marketers that same level of sustained results when advertising outside of the Facebook ecosystem.
For many advertisers, especially those who run direct-response campaigns meant to acquire and retain new and existing customers, the recent ad targeting changes made by Facebook have turned it into their best source for a constant stream of quality user and customer acquisitions.
Maximizing both quality and quantity of customers and user acquisitions is increasingly becoming a hallmark of Facebook advertising. With its advances in campaign and demographic targeting, in addition to more direct response, performance-based ad solutions, few can argue that Facebook isn’t offering marketers a much more rounded and robust ad solution. But these highly targeted solutions aren’t for cheapskate marketers. Success with Facebook advertising requires precise targeting, great creative and, increasingly, a lot more money.
As the old adage goes: You have to spend money to make money. This has never been truer when it comes to finding success with Facebook advertising.