Combining art and science is table-stakes for social marketers. We know that the optimal mix of content, timing and targeting work together to drive successful advertising and brand building through social channels. At Adobe, we consider all these factors on behalf of our customers to ensure we are using science to better inform art for the greatest performance gain possible.

As such, we examined the performance of various Facebook ad placements and ad types from April to June 2013, based on aggregate customer data from Adobe Media Optimizer. These Facebook ads represent more than 150 billion ad impressions across more than 50 advertisers worldwide.

Our Findings

We specifically reviewed Facebook newsfeed ads on desktops and mobile devices (see chart below).

Newsfeed_Standard Ads

Our findings indicated that the click-through rate (CTR) of desktop newsfeed ads was more than 14 times greater than that of standard right-hand-side (RHS) ads, with comparable cost per clicks (CPCs). We found the performance of newsfeed ads on mobile devices was even better, with CTR being 28 times that of RHS ads, and CPCs 42% lower.

We also found the daily impression frequency (the number of times a post from a Page is displayed) was considerably lower for desktop newsfeed ads (by 62%) and mobile newsfeed ads (by 66%). Overall, we found the CTR advantage of newsfeeds ads over RHS ads became five times and eight times greater on desktop and mobile.

Note:  When comparing CTR, it is important to note the difference in impression frequency across different types of Facebook ads. Facebook limits the number of insertions for newsfeed-type ads for individuals on any given day, which means that the native frequency is lower than that of standard RHS ads.

Analysis of Facebook Ad Type Performance

Additionally, we compared the performance of different ad types available on Facebook today. Although Facebook announced in June it will be reducing the number of ad offerings by the end of the year, there will still continue to be a large performance difference across the various ad options available.

Here’s what we found:

Ad Type Performance

Context Matters

Inline Events (an event posted on your Page) and Inline Fans (the number of people who like your Page) provide social context to standard RHS ads on Facebook, allowing direct engagement on the ad itself as well as showing which friends have already engaged with the ad. We found that an Inline Event ad has 24% higher CTR compared to standard ads, and the CTR for Inline Fans is 72% higher.

When accounting for impression frequency (measuring daily unique CTR), we found that Inline Event context gives very little CTR lift, while an Inline Fan context adds 43% to the CTR over standard ads.

“Likes” Yield Results

For all types of Sponsored Stories including “Like” stories and page post stories, CTR was much higher than standard ads. For “Like” stories and page post stories, the CTR was 21 times and 25 times greater than standard RHS ads, respectively.

CPCs for Sponsored Stories is also less expensive than standard ads, netting around 40% lower for both “Like” stories and page post stories, and 23% lower for other types of Sponsored Stories.

Key Takeaways

From our analysis, we saw the perfect connection between ad type, placement and context working together to deliver results to our customers. Based on this data, we can recommend specific areas where marketers can optimize their investment in Facebook ads.

  • Content Placement Matters. Daily unique CTR for desktop newsfeed ads is five times greater than that of standard ads. Mobile newsfeed ads are even better with eight times greater CTR. Of course, CPCs are also cheaper, which means there may be room to invest further in newsfeed placements. However, newsfeed ads have stricter caps on insertion/impression frequency compared to RHS ads, which limits scalability.
  • Ad Type Variability Exists. Daily unique CTR on Sponsored Stories (which Facebook will be phasing out as a standalone offering) is six to nine times greater than that of standard ads, also with cheaper CPCs.

We are encouraged by the results our customers have seen through the use of these Facebook ad types. Takeaways such as these continue to validate our belief that creative and data work together to drive results through the social channel.

Many of our customers are already experiencing positive success through Facebook using Adobe Media Optimizer to manage their social advertising campaigns. Below is a small sampling of recent success stories from around the globe:

  • optimized its Facebook advertising spend and increased its social ad performance by 400% year-over-year.
  • Lenovo Australia saw its website traffic increase, return on ad spending rise by 500%, and “Likes” on Facebook jump from 8,000 to 20,000 in three months. Facebook drove to drive traffic to Lenovo Australia’s website for half the cost of traditional display advertising and simultaneously helped build its brand with a new audience.
  • Admosis, a social advertising agency, saw social media impressions for its client (a leading PC manufacturer) promoting a product giveaway, jump 4,000% by driving more than 1.2 million unique visits to the company’s fan page, and 700,000 unique visitors to its product campaign.
  •, the leading e-commerce site in Germany, generated 6.7 million impressions on Facebook in one day, leading to increased average order size by 20% and its ratio of new clients being boosted by 30%.

About Adobe Media Optimizer

Adobe Media Optimizer is the industry’s first fully integrated digital advertising platform that delivers cross-channel ad management and optimization across search, display and social media campaigns for peak return on investment. The solution delivers more than 300 million monthly prospects and customers and is used by more than 400 global customers across industries. Media Optimizer manages more than $2 billion in annualized ad spend.


Rebecca Kaykas-Wolff (@rebeccakw) is a group product marketing manager focused on Adobe’s social advertising solutions. Adobe’s Kohki Yamaguchi (@kohkiyamaguchi), senior business analyst for Advertising Solutions, contributed data and insights to this post.