A Primer on Facebook Ads

by | Mar 6, 2012

Originally published at MindComet

Facebook at Ad Tech via Channelship on Flickr

Types of Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads are set to change at the end of this month, which means it’s a great time to review the current and future ad opportunities on the social network. Most of the changes apply to bigger budget advertisers – typically those spending at least $2,000 per month on Facebook Ads.

Facebook Premium Ads

Anatomy of Facebook Premium AdThe revised Facebook Premium Ads will be generated from content you publish from a Business Page. This means that not only will your fans see new posts (including status updates, links, photos, videos, events, and questions), but so will any non-fans you target.

Or, if you have separate teams managing your Page posts and your media, Facebook’s Ad Ops will help generate ad-only content. Regardless of the content, all Premium Ads share the same basic anatomy (see figure at right):

  1. Sponsorship: This area indicates that this an advertisement.
  2. Context: This area provides a social context for the advertisement, such as “John Bob and 34 other friends like MindComet.” This context makes your ad more relevant to the user. It’s like an endorsement and is a primary benefit of social ads.
  3. Message: This is a reformatted version of your page’s post, often automatically truncated and resized to fit the ad area. It also includes your brand page’s profile picture in the upper left and your brand name at the top.
  4. Conversation: The top bar allows the viewer to Like or comment on the sponsored post. Or the viewer can read the ongoing conversation below. This allows you to start and monitor conversations from within your ads.

Facebook Ads

Many businesses have lower budgets than required for the Premium Ads, so they instead opt for the standard ads. These appear on the righthand sidebar of inner Facebook pages.

They have a similar anatomy to the message portion of Premium Ads, but instead of being generated by Page posts, they are manually constructed in the ad dashboard. These ads only contain a small 110×80 image, a headline, and a small amount of copy.

They can direct viewers to a Facebook Page or external URL (although keeping visitors within Facebook is typically more effective than drawing them to another site).

MindComet Facebook AdThere are advantages when directing viewers to a Facebook Page. Selecting this destination allows you to promote a specific Page post or to enable liking directly from the ad.

So if your campaign goal is to increase community size, it may be beneficial to include a like button on the ad itself, which removes an extra step for the viewer (clicking Like on the ad instead of first going to the Page and then clicking Like) and can improve conversion rates. Additionally, a context element appears next to the ad’s Like button indicating which friends already Like the Page.

Brands place bids on their ads, either with a focus on gaining clicks or impressions, depending on the goal of the campaign. Facebook calculates a range of suggested bids based on targeting and other factors. A bid is the maximum amount a business is willing to pay for each click or 1,000 impressions (CPC and CPM bids, respectively).

Sponsored Stories

Example Facebook Sponsored Story

Sponsored stories are built in the same manner and with the same targeting and bidding options as the standard Facebook Ads.

However, these ad units are used to solely to promote a Page or one of its posts; they cannot be used to promote external URLs.If promoting a Page, you are able to select a destination tab – very useful if you’re running a contest or promotion.

And instead of appearing on the sidebar of inner pages, these ads appear in the News Feed among organically generated stories. This is of particular importance, as Facebook users spend more time on the News Feed than any other single page on the site.

How Facebook Ads Work

All types of Facebook Ads work essentially the same way. Brands set budgets and schedules and create the ads (either with the help of Facebook Ad Ops or within the ad dashboard).

The real power behind Facebook Ads is the targeting. Businesses can deliver ads as broadly as the U.S. or as focused as females in Clermont, Fla., between 35 and 37 with college degrees interested in wakeboarding and aren’t already fans.

Targeting parameters include location, age, education, broad interest categories, precise interests, expanded precise interests (interests that are very closely related), fan status, connection, gender, and more.

Reporting options and metrics include ad impressions, clicks, cost, CPC, community growth, likes, and comments.

Your Brand on Facebook

With all the creative flexibility, measurement, and social context, nearly any business can benefit from Facebook Ads – especially when paired with Facebook community management.

How does your brand plan to use Facebook Ads in 2012?

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