Are you keeping up with changing Facebook ad trends? Wondering which Facebook ad placements you should focus on?
Rising Facebook Ad Costs
Ad costs on Facebook have been rising for a few years now because of a number of key factors.
Supply and Demand
There are currently more than 6 million advertisers on Facebook—a dramatic increase from 4 million advertisers in 2016. Supply and demand means that more advertisers = greater demand taking up the limited supply, which has driven costs up.
Another reason for poor ad performance could be that, quite frankly, your ads just aren’t very good.
The algorithm rewards advertisers that provide good user experiences because that’s what Facebook and Instagram always want to do. The platforms want to provide great user experiences because advertisers aren’t their customers, users are their customers. They know that if the user numbers go down, advertising numbers will go down as well, so they want to protect the user experience at all costs.
A big part of that experience is that the platforms want advertisers approaching things from a positive standpoint, not a negative one. That’s why there are so many ad policies: the algorithm wants to show relevant ads to the right people. The more you’re able to leverage Facebook’s targeting capabilities with your messaging and creative, the better your ads are, and the more the algorithm will reward you. More delivery equals lower costs.
Think Mobile First With Facebook Ads
This really isn’t a trend, per se, but it’s becoming more important. You’ve got to think mobile first when creating your ads.
Mark Zuckerberg recently stated that the overall percentage of Facebook ad revenue from mobile was more than 90%, which is huge. People are accessing Facebook and Instagram on their mobile devices in unprecedented numbers. So, from an advertising perspective, we need to create our ads with mobile in mind first.
The image has always been important in ads but it’s never been more important than it is right now, especially on mobile devices. We always talk about making sure that our ad is a “scroll-stopper.” We want to get the attention of people scrolling through their news feed or Instagram so they stop, look at, and read our ad.
A few months ago, Facebook announced that they were standardizing image sizes across all ad placements so we don’t have to create different variations of the image. A 5:4 ratio (vertical; slightly more tall than wide) is the standard, but square also works really well on mobile devices, whether it’s an image or a video.
Ad Copy Length
When Facebook standardized those image sizes, they expanded the image a little bit. This in turn has cut the number of lines of copy above the image on mobile devices from around seven lines before you have to click that “…see more” button to more like three. That means you’d better catch people’s attention with those first one or two lines of ad copy; you’ve got to front-load your message.
You’ve got to get it in the first line or two tops to get them to either take action on your ad right then and there or at least click the “…see more” link so that they can skim through more of the copy and then make the decision on taking that action from there.
In Ads Manager, you can preview each of the ads that you’re doing. If you select to run in all placements, for instance, they’ve made it so much easier to look at previews of your ad on Instagram’s feed, Facebook’s mobile news feed, Instagram Stories, or other placements. If what you’re previewing isn’t quite what you want it to be, you can change things around.
You can customize what the ad is going to look like per placement, which is really important. You can even make a version of it just for mobile versus desktop. On desktop, they also have the “…see more,” but you get more lines before it than you do in the mobile experience.
You could choose to craft your copy almost like a tweet and not put a lot in there so you never even trigger the “…see more” overflow prompt, or you could leverage a little bit more of that real estate to tell more of a story to entice them to click.
Generally, longer copy tends to work better when you’re asking people to make a bigger commitment such as selling something versus giving something away, or if you want somebody to register for an hour-long webinar. It’s both time and financial. But there are also plenty of short-form ads for these types of things that work extremely well. You have to test what works best for you.
There’s a headline and a subhead below the image on desktop ad placements, but not on mobile. They call it the Newsfeed Description, which is for desktop only. You have your headline and then you can put a couple of lines of text below the headline that will show up only for the desktop news feed experience.
Where it gets really interesting on mobile ads is if you have a call-to-action (CTA) button—like Learn More—it may cut off part of your headline. Make sure to preview what your ad is going to look like so you can assess exactly where that headline might be getting cut off. Are they seeing enough of it?
For the most part, ads perform better when there’s a CTA button. You can also test excluding the CTA button so the ad blends in better with the feed and just looks like content; those types of ads can work really well, too. But for the most part, CTA buttons really increase ad performance.
When you choose All Placements, it allows Facebook to deliver your ads across all of its family and placements, including Instagram, Facebook news feed, Instant Articles, and other options. Rick has observed a recent trend toward Instagram getting a bigger share of that ad delivery as Instagram has become more popular.
If you’re using All Placements, look at the breakdown of placement delivery in your Ads Manager and check out where your ads are being delivered. It even breaks down Instagram Stories versus feed. Mark Zuckerberg has said there’s excess inventory in Stories and that’s why it’s discounted, so check to see how much is going into Stories because that’s a very different ad unit.
Instagram Stories ads are really where it’s at. There’s so much supply there, and advertisers are still very new to that placement so costs are low. Rick tends to see his best performance from Instagram Stories ads with both videos and standard images.
Ads show up in between stories. A standard Instagram Stories ad is 15 seconds, but you can do it as a carousel ad as well, which can be up to three panels and 45 seconds long. Your 45-second video can be cut into 15-second videos, which Facebook will do, or you can get creative and do different panels where one builds off of the other. But if you want to do just one video or if the image is going to stay up there, you can do it for 15 seconds.
Use Video in Your Facebook Ads
The overall importance of using video on a platform like Facebook or Instagram isn’t really new but it’s only increasing. To illustrate, they’ve made Facebook stories front and centre on your mobile device. There’s also been talk about how in the not-so-distant future, Facebook is going to become even more video-oriented.
We should be doing video to leverage how the platform wants users consuming content. The amount of video that’s being consumed on platforms like Facebook and Instagram on a daily basis is staggering. As advertisers, we want to take advantage of how people are consuming content. We should be creating video ads for whatever it is that we’re marketing—and keeping mobile first in mind when we’re doing it.
Test videos as short as 15 seconds and up to several minutes long. All lengths can do really well; it varies based on what you’re offering and what you’re trying to achieve with the video.
You can do an Instagram Stories ad and then run the same ad on Facebook Stories. On the Instagram feed, video ads used to be limited to 60 seconds just like organic feed videos, but they’ve recently increased that length for ads to 120 seconds.
Video ads often start off muted so you need to create video that captures people’s attention with the sound off. If you’re talking in the video or there’s a voiceover, you definitely want to add captions so somebody watching with the sound off will still know what’s going on. In addition to that, you want to include motion, producing an eye-catching, visually interesting video. This doesn’t mean you have to hire a big production company. Grab your phone, do something that aligns with yourself and your brand or your business, and just create something that you feel will add value and catch people’s attention.