by Ed Stevenson

The online display landscape is changing, and fast. Facebook and the Google Display Network have been at the forefront of a crucial shift in the market towards what is becoming fast referred to as the performance display market.

However, with the newness of Facebook Advertising and the introduction of social media into this mix, advertisers are only beginning to experiment with Facebook ads. Most are only now figuring out how to effectively run advertising programs on Facebook.

To help you realise the potential of Facebook Advertising in 2011 I wanted to share four tips from how we have seen advertisers using Facebook advertising effectively through our platform. The aim is to help you scale up your campaigns and ultimately drive a greater return.

It’s social media, not search

Whilst there are many similarities between the skills needed to manage Facebook Advertising and search there are also crucial differences. The temptation is to dive right into Facebook Advertising expecting to drive traffic from Facebook to your site and convert users there, just as in paid search. While this can work in some scenarios, refining the experience to account for the surroundings in Facebook typically delivers better results. Custom Pages or Applications on Facebook mean you can capture traffic within the platform, resulting in lower bounce rates.

Custom Pages, mean consumers can “Like” your product or brand and you can then remarket to them over time using status updates about deals or upcoming events. Meanwhile Facebook Apps give even more control as you can gather detailed demographic data from user profiles, for your targeting.

Expansion of targeting parameters

The beauty of Facebook from an advertiser perspective is that users list terms that define their likes and interests which can all be targeted. However, the way users phrase these likes and interests varies, in the same way searchers on a search engine use different search phrases for the same product. As such, in order to target a full audience of potential customers, you may have to do some investigating which goes beyond your general keyword search. For example, using the targeting parameter “travelling,” your ad will not reach users who have listed “travelling around the world” or “gap year travelling” on their profile.

Using a root analysis of your targeting parameter is a useful way to expand your audience and increase performance. Enter your targeting parameter into Facebook’s “Likes & Interests” targeting setting and find related terms. Using the travelling example, entering “travelling w” increases the list to include “travelling with friends” and “we love travelling around globe.” This expansion increases your audience and will help improve ROI
Segmentation is king

It’s no secret that there are 500 million Facebook users, creating a huge audience for your ads. It’s also no secret that all users aren’t the same and won’t react in the same way to your adverts. Breaking down your audience into segments will help you understand how valuable each one is to you, and create a platform from which you can optimise bids.

Age, location, and gender are a good place to start and will help you identify high converting segments. As you measure variance between your segmented advertisements, you can adjust your bids to improve the overall ROI for Facebook ad campaigns.

Don’t let users go blind

Facebook is a social network. Users want to interact with friends, share their photos and play games; they’re not on a search engine looking for products and services. It is an interruptive ad format. Your ads need to grab their attention. Users are overloaded with content and go into scan mode; you need to learn the tricks of the online display advertising trade to overcome this.

Firstly, it is even more important on Facebook than most publishers to modify and rotate creative regularly because ads can be served to the same users multiple times. It doesn’t take long for users to completely tune out to repeat ads. In order to minimise ad blindness and increase click-through rates constantly be rotating images and headline copy.

Secondly, most successful ads include colourful, engaging images — and of course, a compelling and relevant offer. Colourful borders like orange or yellow, will contrast with the blue and white Facebook interface, attracting users eyes and increasing Click Through Rates.
The next step is to test, test and test again. Make sure you start testing creative as early as possible in the campaign. The most-clicked ads are not necessarily the most attractive they are the ones that jump off the page.


I think we’re hitting a tipping point in Facebook Advertising, where if you don’t start now then you’re going to fall behind the competition. We’re seeing a general wave of optimism towards Facebook as an advertising platform as technologies to run campaigns advance and best practice techniques evolve.
It’s easy to sit back and take the “see what happens” approach, but I think now is definitely the time to act on Facebook Advertising and implement some of these best practice techniques.

Ed Stevenson is managing director, EMEA & APAC at Marin Software

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