The Many Faces of Facebook Ads

The Many Faces of Facebook Ads

Facebook is the marketing platform of choice for businesses of all kinds and sizes everywhere. Companies are spending more than ever on Facebook advertising. In fact, latest research puts this number at 122% more per ad unit than in 2014. And this is because of the excellent results that Facebook advertising generates for businesses.

Facebook advertising can be a maze for new businesses. Here are a few types of ads available businesses, with the benefits and drawbacks of each.

The Many Faces of Facebook Ads

Column ads

These ads appear on the right-hand column of Facebook user pages and have evolved over the years to look similar to the ads that appear in the News Feed.

They are bigger in size than the News Feed ads, which on the one hand gives them a spotlight of their own and on the other makes them look like clear adverts. This can work for businesses that do a creative job of advertising themselves.

According to the social network itself, these new-look column ads are:

"29% more effective at attracting views (noticing the ad)

50% more effective at driving dwell time (total period of time spent looking at the ad)

46% more effective at driving reading behavior (eyes locked on an ad, moving left to right, top to bottom)"

Source: Facebook for business

There are fewer slots available now for column ads.

News Feed ads

News Feed ads are called so because they appear in the News Feeds of the targeted users, unlike right-hand column ads that appear on the right side of the page. The latter ads look promotional in nature, since users associate that part of the page with advertisements. Users tend to focus more on their News Feeds than on material emerging around it elsewhere, though the recent re-design of the column ads may change that metric over time.

Ads appearing seamlessly in the News Feeds of the users is the perfect use of native advertising, which works well because the ads do not pop up separately or intrude on the users' experience.

Because they "match the feel, form and function of the sites where they appear," they result in higher user engagement.

Consider this: "On average, Facebook News Feed ads have a click-through rate 44x higher, and a conversion rate 5X higher, than right-side ads. And News Feed ads achieve these results at a 67 percent lower cost-per-conversion than right-side ads."

Through News Feed ads businesses can place the kind of content that would integrate well with the News Feeds of their fans/target audience.

News Feed ads should comprise a good chunk of your Facebook advertising due to the excellent results they yield for businesses. They appear as 'Suggested Posts.'

Boosted posts

A boosted post is just that, a post that a business boosts so that it appears on top of the News Feed of the users targeted where the chances of it being seen are considerably higher.

It's fairly simple to boost a post – simply choose the option located on the bottom-right corner of a post on your Facebook business page.

You will be given a few options to determine who can see the boosted post and for how long. Choose the target audience wisely. It could be the current fans of your business page and their friends or a specific target that you would have to define. You then choose the duration of the boosted post along with the budget for it.

Technically you can boost any post, but because you will be paying for it, it makes sense to only boost posts that promise the greatest ROI. This could be a post on a trending topic, a topic that you know is very important to your community or a post promoting evergreen content – topics that are consistently helpful to your audience.

Through engagement with your audience on the blog as well as social in general you must have a fair idea about the particular kind of content they are likely to share. Let that guide your decision on which posts to boost. Devise an honest but promising headline and include a CTA in the boosted post. You can boost old posts as well. Boosted posts appear in the News Feeds of the target audience as 'sponsored' posts.

A word of caution on "boosted" posts: If they appear too frequently in users' feeds, they may be marked as spam, which can hurt your reach on Facebook. Be sure to track this using the Insights tool on Facebook. If there's an overwhelming amount of users marking your boosted post as spam, you way want to pause or make changes to the campaign.

Instagram ads

The collective business spend on Instagram is demonstrating an upward trend. With more than 400 million users, a business is likely to find a large portion of its target audience on Instagram. Since Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012, it has upped its advertising game and made it easy to purchase ads through Facebook's advertising platform.

An Instagram ad, much like a Facebook ad, appears in the image and video feed of the users. Similar to News Feed ads of Facebook, Instagram ads are beautifully integrated within the platform and do not stand out looking salesy or promotional. There's a high chance of the ads catching the attention of the users because of the way they are displayed.

Single images within ads appear as squares or in the landscape format. If you want to include multiple images in the ad, choose the carousel format. Instagram ads appear as sponsored posts in the feeds of the users.

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to create an Instagram ad.

The Many Faces of Facebook Ads

Which type of ads should you buy?

The type of ads you should spend money on depends on your budget and content. A B2B digital agency, for example, might not benefit from Instagram ads or even right-hand column ads. News Feed ads would be the right choice, but then again, there is no conclusion on this. A Pilates business, on the other hand, has all the potential to be a hit on Instagram. When considering your Facebook advertising strategy, be sure that you:

  • Follow and understand your audience.
  • Make your advertising appear as organic as possible.

The principles that help produce great content work here as well – focus on ad content that is relevant to and offers obvious and clear value to the users, instead of that which is blatantly promotional in nature, wrapped up in its own branding and logos.

Which Facebook ads types have you tried and were you happy with the results? Share your experiences with us!

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By Michael Georgiou


Michael Georgiou is the CMO and Co-founder of Imaginovation, a full service, turn-key digital solutions company serving Raleigh, NC and Charlotte, NC. He's a dynamic business professional with proven success in creative strategy, online branding, project management and communication projects. Follow him on Twitter at @MGeorgiou22.