Facebook Ads

Convincing brands to allow your agency to spend their money on Facebook ads is a tough sell.

It’s a ‘tough sell’ because they know, as well as you do, that Facebook is an emerging channel where few of the rules are known, and in which the conditions are constantly changing.

With this knowledge many brands say that they should manage their own Facebook ad campaigns or avoid serving any ads at all. Some report that they have tested Facebook ads with other agencies and that it didn’t work or that they have heard many stories of ad campaigns going wrong and that they don’t want to waste their budget.

A disconnect often occurs where Paid Search Experts at agencies take the opinion that Facebook ads will run the same as Google ones, while brand managers on the client side hold the view that Facebook ads are more akin to Display advertising; totally different to Google.

The upshot of this is that brands are not convinced by the credentials of Agency-Land to deliver Facebook ads successfully. Yet.

I am sure that this will ring true for every one of you.

It is my intention with this column to give an insight each month into how you may be able to better-demonstrate value to your clients with this challenging channel, making it easier for you to win, grow and keep Facebook advertising business in 2012.

Facebook Ad Testing

Today’s insight is to make everyone aware that in order to succeed with Facebook ads, you must commit to a culture of continuous testing and learning. At best this statement seems obvious, and at worst it may sound patronising, but go with me for a moment. I have daily conversations with marketing experts where it is clear that Facebook campaigns are being run without a rigorous testing plan and without any commitment to learning about a new channel.

The most common examples of this would be:

  1. Making just 3 or 5 creative variants for a one month campaign.
  2. Selecting no refined targeting metrics, or bundling all targeting together so that it becomes impossible to identify which demographic is working best or indeed, worst.
  3. Setting ads live on day one of a campaign and not logging in to check on their performance until day 30.

Leaving aside the first two bullet points (which I will come back to in detail for future articles), I think that the first way you can add value to your clients' campaigns and start to internalise new learning within your agency is to make sure you are not falling victim to number 3 above.

Facebook Ads Are Not PPC

I have occasionally found PPC experts who expect to be able to deploy a ‘set and forget’ strategy on Facebook, but Facebook is much more volatile than Google, with fewer knowns and far fewer experts. Therefore, practitioners must obsess over their campaigns as much as they can find the time to do so.

Please take it from my two and a half years of Facebook-focused advertising experience that setting and forgetting a strategy on Facebook will not work, and that pulling  just one report at the end of a month’s campaign is not sufficient.

It might be the case that the client is only asking for ‘wrap up data’ at monthly or weekly intervals. But if you have any aspirations for the campaign to be a success against its KPIs, you will need to be looking at, analysing, and optimising on a daily basis.

Daily reviews and optimisation actions are the minimum required with a channel as new, full of potential and as volatile as this.

If you have run campaigns on Facebook yourself you will have seen that an ad that was working perfectly well last week stops working the next, or perhaps today’s campaigns just stop spending tomorrow. Indeed, the eagle-eyed amongst you will see how some ads may start strong in the morning but plummet by the afternoon.

The Facebook ecosystem is changing day on day on day, and if you are not watching those changes as they happen then you are definitely wasting some, or possibly all, of your budget.

 

Managing Facebook Ad Expectations

All reasonable clients expect there to be some wastage in opening a new channel like Facebook, and they know that learnings have to be made, so they should not be expecting perfect results from the outset.  And, so long as you can demonstrate you have looked closely at the campaign every day and made at least one decision to improve its performance each day, they will respect the methodology in that.

But, if it comes to the end of a one month campaign and you have spent all of the test budget for Client X without assessing and optimising as I advise, then you will struggle to give a commentary on why peaks and troughs happened on certain days, or which creative / demographics were best and why particular trends have emerged etc, etc.

In short, you will not be able to demonstrate added value to your client, you will have not gathered any new knowledge base for your agency -- and will be very likely to churn the account.

An opportunity will have been lost.