5 predictions for Facebook advertising in 2014

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Facebook advertising took several important and exciting steps forward in 2013. From introducing cost-per-action (CPA) ad buys to offline ad-performance tracking, it matured in a way that made many marketers swoon. After so many years of feeling ignored over the level of requested sophistication and analytics available from Facebook ads, advertisers now have at their disposal a remarkable breadth of organic and paid media opportunities on the social network.

Since 2013 was such a big year for Facebook advertising, it’s worth asking: What’s in store for 2014? Here’s a look at five key Facebook advertising predictions that marketers should watch for in the New Year:

  1. Graph Search on mobile will change the Facebook advertising game. Facebook’s inevitable release of Graph Search for mobile (it’s already available on desktop) will be a positive turning point for Facebook ads. Advertisers will be able to place ads on Facebook depending on users’ mobile search terms. They will also have the ability to place a type of sponsored search result, depending on the user’s search, with social context. Facebook previously offered a sponsored results ad type that was widely denounced, but that applied to a previous incarnation of Facebook’s search functionality. Now that search on Facebook is fully baked into the social network’s DNA, especially on mobile where it will play an increasingly influential role, look for Facebook advertising to get a lot more interesting – and competitive – in 2014.
  2. Great creative is now essential on Facebook. Brands will need to put much more research and focus into the images they use in their Facebook ads because the ad size is so large on Facebook (especially in the News Feed). The relatively short lifespan of a Facebook ad means that brands must have a vast quantity of engaging images at the ready in order to keep their ads near the top of users’ News Feeds. Unique, constantly refreshed creative is necessary in order to keep a brand’s ad relevant to users. This is especially true for direct response advertisers, who must rely on engaging, creative ads to entice a consumer into making a purchasing decision.
  3. Offline conversion for retailers. Speaking of consumers’ path-to-purchase on Facebook, the ability for retailers to track offline sales conversions from ads viewed on Facebook is another critical step Facebook is taking to give advertisers deeper insight into how their ads actually drive some type of consumer action. As Inside Facebook recently reported, Facebook has released an update to its Custom Audiences that advertisers to measure offline sales. This update will help advertisers use sales data to overlay on their Facebook data to show what actions a consumer may have taken based on viewing a brand’s ad on Facebook.
  4. Bye-bye right-hand side ad types. Right-hand side ad types will lose favor in 2014 in response to advertisers’ preference for the higher-performing page-post ads and app install ads. The former ad type has been on the decline for some time. Advertisers will be urged to make Facebook their de facto homepage and vehicle for ad content, which will reinforce the concept of Facebook pages as “mission control”. The right-hand side ad placement will continue but it will be miniature format app ads or page-post ads. This change will make the user the de facto quality assurance for Facebook. Users will increasingly have the ability to engage, like and, of course, report an ad, ensuring quality content wins the battle for ad space.  
  5. Facebook will continue its shift away from engagement/affinity ads to performance-based ad solutions. For performance-based marketing professionals, such as my Matomy Media Group colleagues and me, Facebook’s recent shift away from engagement and affinity ads, such as its introduction in April 2013 of cost-per-action ad buys, is welcomed news. We have long advocated for more performance-based advertising opportunities on the social network. Advertisers need more than just the ability to engage with consumers. They need to be able to drive consumer actions. Performance-based advertising on Facebook gives advertisers that option.
  6. Bonus: Stepping into Twitter’s territory. Facebook has known for a while that the things its users talk about are supremely interesting and relevant for advertisers. Twitter proved that basing an advertising model around brand mentions really works; Facebook is bound to follow suit. Already, we are seeing Facebook taking steps into Twitter’s territory by showcasing which topics and brands are trending in users’ News Feeds, and by aggregating hashtagged terms. It will come as no surprise to see an ad product appear in 2014 to support both of these Twitter-like additions.

What do you think? What big advertising Facebook advertising trends do you predict for 2014?

David Serfaty is director of social advertising at Matomy Media Group, a global performance marketing company. He can be reached at david.s@matomy.com.

Top image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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