What do Facebook marketers need to know in 2014?

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As advertisers and marketers draw up their post-holiday plans, Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer Marin Software shared a comprehensive whitepaper outlining four key trends for 2014.

Marin pointed out that marketers have really embraced News Feed, as opposed to sidebar, for native advertising, and that users are on mobile now more than ever. Marin found that users are much more likely to buy from brands they’ve had previous social engagements with. Lastly, Marin feels that marketers should be wiser about switching up their creatives on Facebook to prevent showing users the same ads over and over.

News Feed is beating out sidebar

As more and more studies find, the News Feed is the most effective place for advertising on Facebook. While an ad can get noticed on the sidebar, Facebook users are much more likely to engage on News Feed.

Marin’s data for 2013 Q3 shows that News Feed ads, compared to the sidebar, have 44x higher clickthrough rates (CTR), 67 percent lower cost per click (CPC) and a 5x higher conversion rate. Advertisers took notice in the previous quarter, increasing spending on News Feed ads by 140 percent compared to Q2.

Marin recommends that marketers allocate at least half of their budgets toward News Feed ads and leverage unpublished posts, as well as promoting well-engaged current posts. The company’s Senior Marketing Manager, Dan Morris, spoke with Inside Facebook about how marketers are realizing the value of News Feed:

Marketers have really embraced Facebook’s News Feed as a vehicle for native advertising. This is a big buzzword. … Native advertising essentially is, to me, advertising to users in a way that’s very natural, unobtrusive and in a matter that’s consistent with what they came to the channel to do and participate in. What’s interesting is that Facebook kind of shifted their business model, going from a right-hand side business model, to emphasizing ad solutions that are available in the mobile News Feed, and that’s very intuitive. When you log onto Facebook today, your eyes are really fixated on the News Feed.

Mobile is the wave of the future

As Morris noted, more users are checking their Facebook News Feed on mobile than ever before. In Facebook’s Q3 financial report, the company noted that it has 507 million daily active users on mobile — a figure that will likely grow for a while. Additionally, 74 percent of Facebook’s userbase has used the native mobile app.

Marin saw a 45 percent increase in mobile-only Facebook advertising spending from Q2 to Q3. Marin’s data also indicate that CTR is 187 percent higher on mobile, while CPCs for ads served on mobile News Feed are 22 percent lower. The company notes that as competition in the mobile News Feed increases, we will likely see CPC go up, as well.

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Marin recommends that marketers place more thought into mobile-only campaigns, separating them from their desktop plans using different creatives for each vehicle. However, when planning mobile ads, make sure that the campaigns match mobile user behavior, the whitepaper explains:

To be successful on mobile, advertisers need to consider how their target audience uses Facebook on a mobile device. Are they typically at home when they use Facebook’s mobile app? If so, a marketer can use Facebook’s WiFi-only targeting. If target users are more apt to log-in during peak commute times, advertisers should schedule campaigns to run only during the times of the day when people are likely to be commuting. An ad management platform automates much of this process.

Facebook users like familiar brands

Marin also found that on Facebook, users are more likely to buy from brands they’ve engaged with previously. In 2013, Facebook offered advertisers more way to discover, track and analyze users’ web browsing history, giving marketers more insight into behavior.

The whitepaper explains how Custom Audiences helps marketers target and retarget ads based on what kind of buyer the Facebook users is:

Custom Audience targeting provides marketers with a simple solution for reaching highly specific audience segments using a combination of Facebook-provided interest data and first-party customer or prospect data owned by the advertiser. For example, Custom Audience targeting would allow an outdoor retailer to target “a potential customer who visited our site to browse kayaks, is located in Seattle, and is interested in open-sea kayaking.”

Advertisers loved Custom Audiences in Q3. Marin found that there was an 82 percent increase in the number of marketers using this technology in the past quarter. Marin’s data shows that Custom Audiences targeting has a 14 percent lower CPC and and a 64 percent lower cost-per-conversion rate than category or interest-based targeting alone. Ad creative using Custom Audiences had a conversion rate 3.87x greater than demographic or category based targeting options.

Marin recommends that advertisers nurture website leads, use Facebook Exchange or Custom Audiences retargeting, and reach the friends of current customers.

Keep creatives fresh

Finally, one of the main things an advertiser has to do in 2014 is keep rotating the creatives. When a user sees an ad over and over again, it’s highly unlikely they’ll positively engage and may even give negative feedback through hiding the post or unliking the page. Marin notes that ads that have a high CTR get into more and more News Feeds, knowing that it’s an ad users want to engage with.

Marin found that marketers who utilize creative rotation techniques see a 35 percent higher CTR, 4 percent higher conversion rates, 38 percent lower CPC and 34 percent lower cost per acquisition (CPA).

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Morris talked with Inside Facebook about how important this is to a Facebook campaign:

As more and more advertisers rush to Facebook, it becomes more and more competitive. Advertisers are fighting tooth and nail for impressions on the top audience. What that means is that Facebook is going to get super selective in only really serving the ads that are getting high clickthrough rates, because that’s how they make money. So it’s really important for advertisers to keep their ads fresh and we’re seeing that if you’re overexposing your users, your target audience, with the same ad over and over again, without refreshing it, people are going to stop clicking on it.

Download a copy of the Marin Software whitepaper here.

Readers: What else do you feel marketers need to know in 2014?

Top image courtesy of Shutterstock. Charts courtesy of Marin Software.

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