Proving the worth of Facebook ads

The @AdobeUK Team

August 10, 2012

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Marc Blinder, Director, European Operations, Adobe


Just as data from the computer age helped shape finance in the 1970’s, it has also become the digital revolution’s gift to marketing. Gone are the days where marketers are on the back foot as to justifying how their campaigns are working; the availability of real time data gives them instant access to exactly what is and isn’t working on their campaign so they can tweak and optimise it accordingly. This coupled with the availability of tools which predict and measure campaign results, has given marketers a much bigger say into the company strategy and budgets – much like the role of the finance team.

In order to get to this stage however, marketers need to understand exactly which metrics to measure for each channel, in order to successfully play back that channel’s ROI in the boardroom. With the ease of capturing behavioural data online there’s certainly no shortage of such metrics, but the trick is to know what key indicators are important for each channel and observe these accordingly.

Take Facebook ads for example. There has recently been some interesting debate around just how effective this form of marketing is. On one hand, reports have suggested Face­book adver­tis­ing is not very effec­tive and in com­par­i­son to Google pro­vides sig­nif­i­cantly less value. Other reports however have highlighted brand successes through the same method which begs the question, are people measuring this form of marketing correctly?

Typically, Facebook ads should be mea­sured by soft and hard met­rics. Soft metrics include reach and engage­ment and hard metrics include the impact on rev­enue, profit, mar­gin and offline store sales across all mar­ket­ing and sales chan­nels of a business. Where some marketers have struggled in the past however is because they feel that social chan­nels should be mea­sured using the same mea­sure­ment mod­els and account­abil­ity as search mar­ket­ing efforts.

Unfortunately, this method is flawed because consumers are not spending time on social chan­nels to imme­di­ately buy goods and ser­vices, like they often are when engag­ing in online searches. Instead, they tend to use social plat­forms to con­nect with their friends, social­ise, share con­tent, and par­tic­i­pate in dia­logue around things that they are expe­ri­enc­ing and think­ing.  Advertising on Face­book, for brands who don’t sell online games or flash deals, is more like adver­tis­ing on TV – it increases the likeliness to buy, but it often takes time for a user to convert.

Read on for some common themes we have seen from some of our clients’ suc­cess­ful Face­book campaigns….

  1. Sig­nif­i­cant and sus­tained ad budgets – suc­cess­ful Face­book cam­paigns must have mean­ing­ful ad bud­gets with sig­nif­i­cant reach, as a Facebook ad only sees the desired effects when it reaches a sig­nif­i­cant per­cent­age of users.
  2. A strate­gic long term view –  the best social cam­paigns are well thought out with strate­gies designed to build audi­ences and engage with them in a mean­ing­ful way, so they: 1) grow a fan base, and 2) increase loy­alty to the brand. For the mar­keter this means a strat­egy to cre­ate mean­ing­ful con­tent that is rel­e­vant to the fan base at a given point of time, and con­stantly updat­ing con­tent so that the mes­sage remains fresh.
  3. Data is used as an asset – the remark­able thing about Face­book adver­tis­ing is both the tar­get­ing and data that the adver­tiser can obtain with appro­pri­ate per­mis­sions from the user. A good exam­ple is to build apps where the user vol­un­tar­ily agrees to pro­vide infor­ma­tion and then launch and mar­ket to them with the sup­port of Face­book ad buys. Through this, the ad buys drive audi­ences to the app and the data from the app can be lever­aged to make the app expe­ri­ence more inter­est­ing and the whole process more effi­cient.
  4. Good con­tent is key – adver­tis­ing will have min­i­mal impact if you don’t have mean­ing­ful con­tent. You need a good com­mu­nity man­ager and mod­er­a­tor to under­stand when to place con­tent, what con­tent to place and how to mea­sure the effi­cacy of con­tent. If you fail to develop good con­tent, your fans and the Face­book plat­form will ignore your mes­sage.

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