In the past few years Facebook has emerged as one of the most visited web sites on the web. Facebook now boasts over 500 million active users and half of those users visit the site on any given day. It is therefore no surprise that Facebook is leveraging this traffic by offering a mass market advertising program to marketers, business owners, organization and others eager to tap into the potential of this huge user base. Like most advertising platforms, Facebook went through some growing pains in the early going, but new features and better capabilities have helped it emerge as an essential part of the media mix for any online marketing plan. For businesses with a small budget, Facebook offers Facebook Ads, an auction-based self-serve advertising system. Depending on the available budget, advertising can get started on Facebook with as little as a few hundred dollars a month for a local ad campaign. The minimum daily budget is $1.00, and the minimum bid per click is only $0.01.
Currently, Facebook Ads are the best way to drive traffic to the Facebook Page. Through Facebook Ads, Facebook offers a self-serve auction-based advertising platform similar to the Google AdWords content network. The Facebook ad system is primarily used for branding and direct marketing of products and services. Advertisers pay on a CPC (cost-per-click) or CPM (cost-per-1000 impression) basis. The Facebook Ads system provides real time feedback at campaign set-up time on the size of the campaign target audience and the suggested bid range to achieve impressions. For those advertisers simply wanting to drive traffic to a web site or Facebook Page, the Facebook’s self-serve advertising system is the simplest and most effective tool available for Facebook advertising. Advertisers can simply set-up campaigns for people who match certain demographic or targeting requirements, and are only charged for clicks.
Facebook offers advertisers many different options in order to help them achieve the specific goals of their campaign. Like any other online advertising campaign, it’s important to set those campaign goals up front in order to most effectively use this medium. For those advertisers who already have a Facebook Page and are looking to get more fans, advertising on Facebook will certainly help them grow their fan base. However, Facebook ads can also direct traffic to the advertisers’ web site as well, so for businesses that are looking to promote their brand, generate leads, or sell products, Facebook advertising can work as well.
One of the most important features that sets Facebook Ads apart is its ability to target demographics. Many other self-serve ad programs have tried to integrate demographic targeting into their platforms, but they have never been entirely precise. Since Facebook user profiles include age, gender, and other important information that users have been willingly to share, this data can now be used to target users demographically. Because of this, the demographic information in Facebook is much more exact than in other ad platforms. Advertisers who know their target audience well will have an opportunity to target Facebook users by age, gender and other demographics very easily.
Facebook also offers a number of unique advanced demographics targeting options that can help advertisers zero in on even more specific target groups. Advertisers can target at certain education levels. This is particularly useful when targeting students, or recent graduates. Other targeting opportunities include targeting by workplace network if a Facebook user has specified their employer name. Also among these advanced demographics are options related to relationship status, and the ability to target users on their birthdays.
Another unique targeting option available to users with an existing Facebook page are the Connection settings. Facebook keeps track of users who are already connected to the advertisers’ Facebook Page and uses that to create options for the ad campaign. With Connection targeting, advertisers can create ads to target the advertisers’ Facebook Page fans, group members, application users and attendees to any of the advertisers’ Events. Advertisers can also create ads that are targeted to the friends of users who are already connected to their Facebook Page. It may be likely that people who are already connected to the Page will have friends with similar interests. Targeting these people could be very valuable to advertisers.
It’s also important to consider location targeting. Location targeting should be nothing new to online advertisers – most online ad networks have supported some form of geo-targeting for years now. Facebook geo-targeting works in a unique way. Most ad networks rely on combinations of IP addresses, information from service providers, and keyword searches to determine a users’ location. With Facebook, as with the other Facebook demographic options, the location is pulled directly from the users’ profile.
The last targeting option, “Like and Interests”, is based on information that is pulled from the Facebook profiles, groups, Pages users have connected with, status updates and other information they have shared on the site. These Likes and Interests can be anything from a popular movie or TV show, to a musical group, even a type of food. As advertisers select words to target, Facebook may automatically suggest additional relevant likes and interests to target.
Once advertisers have selected the target groups, they need to write ad copy that fits with both, the group they are targeting as well as the goal(s) they are aiming for. Since the target audience will most likely be seeing the ad multiple times it is important to have more ad copy and images rotate with ads in order to prevent “ad blindness”.
Facebook Ads appear at the right-hand side of a Facebook Page. Facebook has recently increased the number of ads displayed in many areas of the site from three to four. In some cases the fourth ad is partially or completely below the fold of the page, meaning Facebook now serves ad impressions users might not necessarily see. This change could reduce ad click-through rates but it will also allow advertisers to access Facebook’s most valuable demographics more often. By displaying more ads on each page, it’s harder for users to pay attention to each ad. Users will see four ads in the following areas of the site: personal profiles, official Pages, community Pages, applications, the photos home page, albums and photos, the events home page, the groups home page, groups, the notes home page, notes, the friends home page, the applications directory and notifications.
With all of these options available, Facebook is also providing a more robust reporting system that gives advertisers detailed of information about their campaigns. Facebook’s demographic reporting will break an ad campaign’s performance down among the different genders and age groups. This can help advertisers figure out if there are certain demographics they need to write new ad copy for, or eliminate from their campaign altogether. Profile reporting can give advertisers other interesting information about the users who are clicking on their ads, how many clicks they are getting from users who have specific Likes and Interests.
Facebook advertising is still relatively new. The Facebook Ads platform has many options that are different from what we may have seen in traditional online advertising networks. Spending some time and budget on getting familiar with the program, testing the different targeting options and writing different ad copy may be complicated, but very effective. The highly accurate information Facebook possesses about its users offers advertisers an almost unprecedented opportunity to target user groups in a way that wasn’t possible before.
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