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:

  • Hotels​.com 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.
  • otto​.de, 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.