What Are Facebook’s Ad Types and How Should You Use Them?

By Matt Weltz | Sep 10, 2013
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Zuckerberg Meme Facebook

Imagine a way to target millions of people around the world based on their age, gender, interests, social groups, politics,  religious beliefs, relationship status, and much more. Ten years ago that type of granular market research could cost you millions. Enter Facebook in 2004, and less than a decade later marketers can target potential customers for only pocket change per click. Whether you are trying to create brand awareness or you want to sell products, Facebook gives you numerous options to do it. The question then becomes, how?

This leads us to the topic of my blog post, where I will show you the different types of Facebook advertising and how they should be applied. All of these types of ads can be used in conjunction with one another to target users in numerous ways and for different campaign goals. The secret is to know when to use which type of ad.

Standard Offsite Ads

Right Side Facebook AdsThe most basic Facebook ad is one that leads to another website. These ads appear on the right hand-side of the screen (pictured right), in a user’s News Feed,
or both. Advertising in the News Feed provides some benefits that the right hand-side ads don’t. Because users are more used to reading their News Feed as part of their normal Facebook routine, ads contained in it feel more natural and less commercial than ads appearing to the right. However, according to Facebook, “everything that shows in the News Feed needs to come from something on Facebook,” meaning that your News Feed ads must be linked to your Facebook page. This ensures you are promoting content related to your Facebook page, as opposed to your website, on people’s News Feeds.

These ads are ideal for eCommerce websites with specialized products. For example, let’s say I am selling different types of bird watching and feeding supplies. I could create ad targeting based on bird related topics and precise interests (see the example pictured below). Much like the keyword planner tool on Google AdWords , Facebook provides a list of suggested likes and interests based on the list you have currently compiled. While it did eventually recommend a few ‘out there’ terms (I hardly see how #Dim Sum and #Spare ribs relate to bird supplies), the majority of recommendations were at least fairly relevant. After creating a list of only 16 highly related interests such as #Bird feeding and #Bird watching, I had amassed a target market of over half a million people. In addition, if I added a more general interest such as #bird, that number shot up to nearly 5 million! These types of ads are also effective for attaining donations and sign-ups for nonprofits and cause groups, because of their granular interest-based targeting and relative affordability.

Facebook sample ad targetting

Facebook Page Advertising

The next type of Facebook advertising involves showing ads that send the user to your Facebook page via News Feed or right hand-side ads. These ads can be great for relationship marketing to promote brand awareness. It can also help with SEO by driving traffic from your page to your site, and by increasing the organic ad rank of your Facebook page on searches for branded terms. Continuing with the bird watching and feeding supplies store example, let’s say I have my brick and mortar store in St. Paul, Minnesota. After some light internal and external market research, I have found that most of my customers are women ages 55 and over. With Facebook, I can easily market to that exact audience. After using the previously mentioned 16 precise interests, I further targeted my ads to women ages 55 and up. I then refined my ad to show only in a 50 mile radius of St. Paul. I wound up with an audience of 1,440 people. That may not seem like a lot, but with such a highly targeted ad, conversion rates should be quite high. If 35% of the people I am targeting like my page, and 20% of those people come into the store, then I could have up to 100 new customers for years to come.

News Feed Facebook Page Ads/ Sponsored Stories

New Feed ads for Facebook pages are promoted via sponsored stories. Sponsored stories are paid ads that show up in a user’s News Feed when their friends interact with your Facebook page. It is a way to target a filtered group of friends or people that already like your page. It can be a good idea to do this in conjunction with a right hand-side ad, because as more people unrelated to your page discover and like it, the more you will then be able to target and advertise to their relevant friends. In addition, before you do any of that you have to select how you will be targeting your promoted posts (pictured below). You can either select “Get More Page Likes,” or “Advanced Options.” The only difference is the “Get More Page Likes” option automatically only shows stories about people liking your page, whereas in “advanced options” you can choose whether or not to show stories about people liking your page, page posts, or page post comments.

Facebook sponsored story ad example

Promote a Post Ad

The last way to advertise on Facebook is by promoting your post. If you regularly post quality content on your page, then you can use these ads to attract new customers to your Facebook page. This can be especially effective when using simple to understand posts such as infographics and memes. These ads can quickly and cheaply get your best posts seen by thousands of people, and could help a popular image go viral. To set up, simply select “Promote a Page Post,” then choose the post you want to promote, targeting, bid, budget and campaign. If it is an older post you may want to set run dates so the post doesn’t become too dated. In addition, you can set your ad to always promote your most recent post.

Be careful though, if that ad gets disapproved for some reason your page post advertising could go dark until your next post. One big reason why a promoted post would be disapproved is Facebook’s 20% rule, which restricts how much of an image or photo contained in your post can have text. So, if you plan to promote a post with a meme, you’ll need to make sure the text in that meme takes up less than 20% of the full image.

As a final caveat, remember it is not enough to just get people to “Like” your Facebook page. Without highly relevant and up-to-date page content, users won’t frequent your page or re-share your posts, rendering your targeted marketing dollars wasted. First impressions are vital to relationship marketing, and Facebook is no exception.

 Do you use Facebook ads? Which type has worked best for you? Comment below or tweet me @El_Mattador101!

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