I have plenty of great things to say about Facebook and their advertising platform, but this post is NOT about them.
I just went in to set up a simple ad promoting a new blog post and I saw it: a GREAT way to lose a boatload of money by letting Facebook tell you what’s “best” for you.
Hence this hastily written but IMPORTANT post!
Here’s what you need to know:
When you’re putting together your campaign, you have to make a LOT of decisions at the ad set level. This is where you set your Facebook ad budget, choose the target audience, and decide where on the platform your ads will get shown.
That last piece is called the “Placement” of your ads, and it’s an important one. People tend to take different actions depending on whether they’re on their cell phones or on a desktop computer, and so it’s important to pay attention to this metric when you’re reading your reports.
But with Facebook’s new change, they “recommend” that you run your ad on all 5 of the possible placements:
If you click on Edit Placements, you’ll see all the options:
There are lots of problems with running your ads on all of those placements:
1. The format of ads varies a TON across the different placements. The layout of the text, number of characters visible, and cropping of the image change dramatically when you’re looking at an ad on desktop, mobile, Instagram and the Audience Network.
Smart marketers create different ads for each individual placement, and run them in different ad sets.
2. People may have one mindset when they’re scrolling through Facebook and a completely different one when on Instagram. The same ads almost never work on both of those platforms.
3. THIS IS THE BIG ONE THAT MAKES MY BLOOD BOIL: Audience Network is a huge scam that almost never gets results.
What the heck is Audience Network, you ask?
Ads shown on the Audience Network are usually the ones you see when you’re reading an article you reached via Facebook. Here are three examples:
If you pay attention to your metrics, you’ll see that the clicks you get on your Audience Network ads are DIRT CHEAP! So you might be excited at first.
But here’s the thing: a shit ton of those clicks are accidental. Someone’s scrolling through an article on her phone about getting their baby to take better naps (ahem) and her finger hits the ad without meaning to. They are immediately taken to your landing page or blog post or whatever you were promoting, which has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with baby naps. WTF????
Good user experience? NOPE. More like infuriating user experience.
Chances are that you’ve gotten lots of cheap clicks with the Audience Network Placement, but very few conversions. And if the goal of your campaign is to get conversions, then that’s a colossal waste of money.
Which placement should you use instead?
I stick with News Feed on mobile and on desktop for the majority of my campaigns. If I’ve got the time and budget to test it out, I might try the right column placement as well (but in it’s own ad set – see point #1 above).
My friend and Facebook ad extraordinaire Lenny Ramirez would punch me in the face if I didn’t add a caveat to this post. He’s had some actual success running ads to the Audience Network! Miraculous, I know.
What kind of magic did he employ to get people to convert after viewing Audience Network ads? Targeting warm traffic. In these campaigns, he was serving ads to his client’s fans and subscribers.
So even though they were seeing ads while scrolling through articles, fans or existing subscribers would click on these retargeting ads because they already knew the business that was advertising to them. Those Audience Network ads might even be serving as a kind of reminder: “Oh right, I wanted to enroll in that program before it closes tomorrow” or “Oh yeah, that sale ends soon, I better buy that lawn mower before I forget.”
Audience network placement for ads that target cold traffic? NO.
When used with warmer audiences that you’re retargeting (often times as a reminder so that they don’t miss out)? YES.
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!
(Photo credit: Saad Akhtar. Modified by author.)