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Beginner's Guide to Starting Facebook Advertising

Updated: Jul 19, 2021

Quick Tips for Facebook Success

Facebook Advertising Case Study

To get a better sense of this, we recommend you to also read Facebook Marketing in Japan by the Numbers. We knew Facebook’s algorithm was smart from our guide to social media marketing (best practices), but this was on a whole new level. Somehow, without us doing anything to prompt them with targeting parameters or reams of data, our top of funnel campaigns had miraculously figured out that existing customers were the most likely to convert. Despite us targeting quite literally EVERYONE IN JAPAN, the algorithm was able to zero in on the fact that customers already in the CRM were more likely to buy again. Of all of the conversions that took place in this ad set, 80% already had some relationship with the brand.

In retrospect, we probably should have done more to exclude the client’s existing customer base but this result took us completely by surprise. Luckily for you, the reader, this peculiar result is a great teaching opportunity for us to explain how the Facebook algorithm actually works. To be frank, unless you’re in the trenches of advertising on Facebook and/or Instagram every day, you’re probably entirely unaware of what’s to follow in regards to how Facebook ads work.

Setting Facebook Campaign Objectives

OK, here we go. As anyone who has ever made a new campaign in Ad Manager (no, “boosting” a post doesn’t count), the first thing our marketing agency always explains is that you need to do is select the objective for your campaign. Here, you’re basically giving the algorithm a top-level mission. Each of the thirteen options directs Facebook to seek out those users who are most likely to perform the action selected. For example, if you choose “video views,” the algorithm will try to get you the most video views it can for the cheapest cost.

In addition to the campaign level selections, there are also a lot of parameters that appear on the ad set level too. For example, when using a conversion campaign, you’ll need to select exactly which conversion event (lead, purchase, etc.) you want the algorithm to optimize for at the ad set level. Likewise, all ad sets have a section near the bottom where you can tell the algorithm what type of optimization and delivery you want it to consider. Unfortunately for the newbies out there, these are just as important to success as the campaign objective.

More Time, Better Results

Anyway, once a campaign is launched, the algorithm will go about learning exactly who is most likely to perform the requested action within the audience defined at the ad set level. Because of this, results will actually start to get BETTER over time as the AI-backed system starts to figure out who is going to convert. This is what happened in the example alluded to above. Within a pool of everyone in Japan, the algorithm learned that a certain subset (which just happened to be existing customers) was most likely to convert.

Common Facebook Ad Mistakes

Now, newcomers to Facebook ads often can find themselves bamboozled by all of the different parameters both at the campaign and ad set level. Moreover, many fledgling marketers often overlook and underestimate just how much the Zuckerbot knows about the users of the Facebook suite of apps. As a result, they are prone to making mistakes when selecting campaign objectives and optimization. We see a lot of people wrongly use options like traffic campaigns when their real goal is sales.

In the context of selling things online (you know, AdVertize’s speciality) you basically only want to be using conversion campaigns with the purchase pixel objective. This is because the algorithm will know to go after people who actually buy stuff. Though your metrics will be most expensive, you’ll ultimately see a higher ROI in the long run due to the system already having a massive amount of data and knowing who will actually buy.

What happens when you use something like the engagement objective instead? Well, the heat seeking missile that is the Facebook algorithm will optimize around those who are most likely to take the desired action for the cheapest cost. This means that your fake news-sharing Aunt Sally will get shown all the ads. Sure, she engages a lot but the woman hasn’t bought a single thing online in her life and is therefore unlikely to convert.

Facebook Ads and "User Buckets"

Basically, the Facebook algorithm puts people into “buckets” based on the actions they take on the platform. It knows who binge watches videos and who is a compulsive clicker. By sticking with conversion ads with the purchase objective, you can ensure your ads are only getting shown to the types of users who have a proven track record of buying things off of Facebook and/or Instagram ad placements.

This doesn’t mean that the other campaign objectives are useless though. After all, not everyone is comfortable buying things directly off of an ad that they see on social media. To reach consumers who prefer in-store shopping, you might need to look at other campaign settings. Likewise, large CPG companies like Nike or Coca Cola that have little control over their point of sale will not be able to leverage conversion campaigns well.

Suggestions for Starting Facebook Advertising

Generally speaking though, you want to be sticking with conversion campaigns in most instances. While there’s a few corner case arguments for other options that are outside the scope of this article, you likely should be picking conversions for most of your campaigns. Whether you go with the “purchase” pixel event or the “lead” is up to your business model but you really need a clearly defined plan if you stay away from either of these two.

Note that you also need to be really careful to ensure that your Facebook pixel is first set up properly to track conversion events before running conversion campaigns. After all, this is what the algorithm will optimize around. While you can’t pull as much data now that the iOS 14 changes are live, you still want to be able to see the important events. For e-commerce brands for example, this is stuff like your add to carts, your initiate checkouts and of course your purchases.

When using conversion campaigns, one final area that you need to pay attention to is the optimization and delivery section at the bottom of the ad set page. Here, you can choose a number of different settings but you’ll almost always want to be going with conversions. If you make a mistake and accidentally select landing page views instead, the algorithm will start doing something different from what you want it to when using a conversion campaign.

We Can Help

Hopefully, this helped you understand a bit more about how the magnificent Facebook ad system works. If it seems a bit overwhelming, know that you’re not alone here. Frankly speaking, this stuff changes everyday and we at AdVertize are always uncovering new parameters and ways to eke out more results from our campaigns. If you’ve got a question or want to learn more about what we do, don’t hesitate to reach out! Or if you just want to read more about Facebook, check out some of our other articles here at Digital Marketing Agency Blogs.

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