Social media has been developing at breakneck speed this year. And no network more so than top dog Facebook.
Its biggest announcement of 2018 was undoubtedly the News Feed overhaul in January. For many, this amounted to organic reach’s coup de grace. We don’t hold that view, but the fact stands that organic has taken another hit.
Yet despite that, many companies are curbing their Facebook advertising this year in favor of (Facebook-owned) Instagram. The second fiscal quarter of 2018 saw Instagram’s year-over-year ad spend rise by 177% compared to Facebook’s 40%.
But Instagram’s rising star aside, Facebook remains one of the most potent advertising tools available to your company. Why? Because Facebook advertising works, and it’s fully scalable.
Facebook still enjoys a larger and more demographically diverse audience than any other network. Which is why merely boosting your Facebook posts, as a lot of companies continue to do, is missing the train.
It is also relatively cheap. Facebook ads have a lower CPM (cost per thousand impressions) and a higher return on investment than TV advertising, YouTube, and many other marketing channels.
It is fair to say that Facebook remains your reliable go-to for social media advertising. However, it does come with the challenge that you are competing against the network’s two billion other advertisers.
This begs the eternal marketing question: how do you stand out?
Facebook ad types galore
The number of Facebook ad types has multiplied in recent years—and many advertisers are understandably confused about which to use.
Here we cover five of the newer ad types:
- Facebook Messenger ads
- Facebook Collection ads
- Facebook Canvas ads
- Facebook lead ads
- Now in beta: Facebook Story ads
…plus when and why to use them.
Video vs image ads
All Facebook ads fall into one of these two categories, despite the tendency to think of ‘video ads’ as a format of their own. So which is the best?
Most would put their money on video. And for good reason. A study by comScore found that 64% of consumers are more likely to purchase a product after seeing a video about it.
The reasons for this are simple: video can pack more information in and can be more far more engaging. I say “can be” because video in itself isn’t a magic ingredient. Great static images with powerful CTAs will serve you better than mediocre video.
So when producing your Facebook ads, consider which you can do better with the resources you have—and don’t forget the basics of good social media engagement.
Now let’s dive into the Facebook ad types in focus.
Also see: Instagram Video Ads: Best Practices for 2018.
1. Facebook Messenger ads
Why use Facebook Messenger ads?
To engage people you probably already have a relationship with, in a channel proven to foster greater consumer trust.
Facebook Messenger ads left beta in July last year and the uptake has been phenomenal.
That’s not surprising really, as this ad type has hitched itself to a winner: messaging apps now surpass social networks in terms of usage.
On Facebook and Instagram alone, there are two billion messages being exchanged between brands and consumers every month.
The strength of Facebook Messenger is that it provides that coveted 1:1 customer experience. One study found that 53% of people say they are more likely to shop with a brand they can message.
So your audience is likely in a more receptive mindset than at your average touchpoint. That is what makes them so ideal for retargeting.
Even better, Facebook gives you three types of Facebook Messenger ads that allow you to personalize your message ads to a finely-tuned degree.
Messenger ads: These appear directly in the Messenger home screen alongside your target audience’s inbox.
Sponsored messages: These allow you to deliver a message directly to anyone you are already interacting with—perfect for product recommendations or special offers.
Click-to-Messenger ads: These appear in the Facebook News Feed or on Instagram. They differ from regular News Feed ads by having a “Send Message” button that will open a chat feed.
Facebook Messenger ads are clearly best for retargeting and connecting with customers. But they can be jarring and intrusive to some. Be sure to make your intentions—and the fact you may be starting a direct mail dialog—as clear as possible.
For more about how to use Facebook Messenger ads see: How to Leverage Facebook Messenger Ads in 2018.
2. Facebook Collection ads
Why use Facebook Collection ads?
To push products on mobile and drive consideration.
Facebook introduced Collection ads in March 2017.
Facebook Collection ads contain a header video or image followed by four product images. Clicking on a product image triggers a scrollable catalog of up to 50 more products. While the advertiser picks those first four products, Facebook selects the rest based on targeting.
See this example from Michale Kors:
Upon its release, Facebook’s Director of Product Marketing Maz Sharafi summed up the format:
“Collection is, at its core, a new ad experience that we’ve built specifically for News Feed, to drive product discovery and sales through an engaging format in a fast-loading shopping experience.”
Significantly, Facebook Collection ads are designed specifically for the mobile format. This has never been more important, as 45% of shopping journeys now include a mobile action.
In addition, Facebook Collection ads feature accelerated load times. Slow-loading mobile experiences are proven to be a significant blocker to online purchasing.
Together with Canvas ads, which are next on this list, Facebook is betting big on the mobile format and designing its service to cater to a mobile-centric world.
3.Facebook Canvas ads
Why use Facebook Canvas ads?
To showcase your products and brand in a full-screen, interactive, mobile-specific format.
Facebook Canvas ads were introduced earlier than Collection ads in 2016. However, they are still not very commonly used, perhaps because advertisers are not clear on just how versatile they are.
Canvas ads are an expandable format that can include images, videos, slides, carousels, clickable link buttons, and text. They are pitched as a branded “landing page” displayed right in your audience’s News Feed.
Check out this example from Volkswagen:
As a bonus, you can tilt-to-pan the ad and zoom in and out using your fingers. These are all bells and whistles geared to elevate the experience. Note that Canvas Ads can now be added to Collection ads, lending the ‘experience’ quality of the former to the product catalog functionality of the latter. More on that in a moment.
Canvas or Collection?
This study published at ROI Hunter did an A/B test running the same campaign in each format. They found that Collection ads beat Canvas ads convincingly on CTR by 50% and also had a better Link-to-Click Ratio.
However, Canvas ads won on conversion rate, which confirmed their hypothesis that “Canvas brings in more relevant traffic with higher intention to buy.”
The best solution is to use the integration between the two. By using both, FabFitFun was able to increase CTR by 80% and achieve a 19% return on investment.
Obviously, Canvas and Collection ads done well are an elaborate time and labor investment—one that is beyond the bandwidth and resources of many social media departments.
In that case, their humbler precursor Carousel ads are recommended. These offer many of the same engagement advantages in a simpler-to-create package.
Carousel ads are effective as well: a Facebook analysis involving 9,000 ad sets showed they had a 30-50% lower cost per conversion and 20-30% lower cost per click than single image ads.
See how easy it is to run your Carousel ad campaigns directly from Falcon.
4. Facebook lead ads
Why use Facebook lead ads?
To get more leads with fewer touchpoints.
Released in 2015, these aren’t all that “new” but have been boosted with updates since then. Facebook lead ads basically cut out the middleman of landing pages by activating a pop-up form that can be submitted without leaving the News Feed.
When someone clicks on a lead ad, the pop-up appears already pre-filled with the appropriate personal information that Facebook has on file. The user can edit the information and, importantly, it will only be submitted when they click the ‘Submit’ button.
The beauty of it is that by eliminating the labor of landing pages you are more likely to garner leads.
The actions that Facebook lead ads allow are:
- Sign up
- Learn More
- Get Quote
- Apply Now
This makes them appropriate for a range of tactics such as newsletters; blog and webinar sign-ups and promotions; special offers; recruitment; and asset download promotions.
As a bonus, Facebook lead ads currently integrate with a broad array of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Platforms. This only further cements their title as a lead-generating machine.
Only the obviously very narrow and specific use case.
5. Now in beta: Facebook Story ads
Why use Facebook Story ads?
Time will tell, but the Stories ad format has already been a hit on Instagram.
As mentioned at the beginning, Instagram’s share of ad spend only continues to grow. So it’s not surprising that Facebook is further doubling down on the success of Instagram Stories with Facebook Story ads.
Launched in March last year, Instagram Story ads are short advertisements inserted between users’ stories.
The success of Instagram Stories has stymied predictions that ephemeral content will be a passing fad. Facebook has even predicted that the Stories format will surpass the News Feed as a sharing medium next year.
So will the Stories format enjoy the same success on Facebook? Things are looking promising, with beta customers reporting better CPM and conversions than on Instagram Story ads in the same period.
Advertisers (but not users) can take heart that there are rumblings that Facebook Story ads will be unskippable.
Social Media Consultant Matt Navarra was among the first to reveal the beta via a tweet.
He shared some thoughts with us on how he thinks we will see Facebook Story ads roll out.
“I suspect they will be an attractively cheap option at first, and brands will spend some time experimenting with them to identify their value. Facebook’s audience or user type is fairly different to Instagram’s, therefore its performance and usage may well show marked differences,” he says, adding:
“Facebook Stories has so far attracted considerable ridicule from users due to the perceived low usage of the format compared to Instagram Stories and Snapchat. The question is whether usage will grow and whether brands will leverage them in any great numbers. My hunch is Facebook will align the Instagram and Facebook platforms for Stories in terms of features and the ad platform setup, but usage will continue to be a slow burn for the latter.”
So far, Facebook Stories has “only” attracted 150 million users compared to Instagram Stories’ 400 million. But as with all things Facebook the advantage lies in the network’s larger, more diverse audience. True to stereotype, Instagram users do skew younger (68% are in the 34 and younger age bracket).
Facebook clearly hopes that the fully immersive, ephemeral magic of Instagram Stories will rub off—and pay off—on its flagship platform.
What else is next for advertising on Facebook?
So as Facebook’s VP of Business Product Marketing Ty Ahmad Taylor said, “Get ready for augmented commerce.”
But that only goes to show that social media isn’t going to run out of advertising ideas any time soon. It will be interesting to see which of these ad formats stand the test of time and engagement trends.