Top Tips for Maximising and Measuring your Social Advertising

Read Time: 6 mins

It would be an understatement to say that social media had a difficult year in 2018 with the Facebook family dogged by scandal after investigation after scandal, Kylie Jenner’s infamous “does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore?” tweet, and the steady stream of controversies regarding Twitter.

In light of this, you would be forgiven for asking why Paid Social matters; why would you want your brand to be on these undeniably flawed platforms? The short answer: the billions of users ripe for targeting with unparalleled creative capabilities.

Making your Social Advertising work as hard as your other channels is no easy feat. The question for many of us remains:

How can marketers operate efficient, impactful Social campaigns that have a positive, measurable impact across their marketing portfolio and wider business?

The starting point for this lies in your foundations. Intelligently implemented & complementary audience and creative strategy, with clear goals, is the bedrock of the most successful campaigns.  

Solid Foundations

Begin by choosing the right campaign goal. On Facebook, this will not only affect the options available when setting up your campaign but will also inform all optimisation decisions available moving forward. If you’re running a Traffic-based campaign when you’re aiming to maximise ROI or a Reach-based campaign for your new branding video, your campaign will never truly succeed even with perfect targeting.

As you’re setting up your audiences, ensure that you’re making the most of the vast array of audience information that can be layered to create complex and highly granular targeting strategies. Whilst lookalikes, interest targeting and dynamic prospecting can all be very powerful, they need to be narrowed down to be truly effective.

Finally, as you roll out your creative strategy, check that it aligns with your audience and campaign goals. Are you trying to draw in new customers, requiring a more informative creative? Are you driving existing customers to your site, or re-engaging with lapsed customers? Creatives for these audiences will need to focus more on any offers or new products.  

A coherent creative strategy is crucial as it increases the value of an impression in a time where a user’s attention span is more fleeting than ever. You increase the value of an impression when the imagery of that specific ad matches any interactions they may have had, or will have, with your brand.

Cross-Channel Sharing

There a very few campaign attributes that do not overlap across your channels. Your budget, attribution, audiences, performance data and landing page optimisation – amongst many others – are all incredibly important to share across your marketing mix. If you don’t know where to start, Jack offers a couple of starting points.  

Creative Strategies: Whilst there will naturally be a difference between the copy and imagery used across Social, Search and Display, it would be a waste not to utilise a clear shared strategy as this allows for a clear and coherent customer journey.

Performance Data: We’re given a wealth of data from each individual channel that all too often is criminally underused outside of its own silo. Whilst any advertiser worth his salt will be optimising at a product level on Google Shopping or selecting products for the home page based off sitewide performance, there aren’t enough cases of that data being freed to influence bidding decisions & dynamic product selection across Display or Paid Social.

Audiences: Play into each channel’s strengths and adopt a customer-centric approach which appreciates the touch points that users have taken so far along the path to purchase. Passing audiences from channel to channel allows you to adapt bids, creative, copy and other strategy points as you deem necessary.

A Source of Truth: Many advertisers still rely on Facebook’s tracking, which is incredibly flawed; operating in a silo which doesn’t take into account the other touchpoints in the path to purchase, wildly overestimating Facebook’s contribution. This leads to inefficient budgeting, an inability to effectively test, and inappropriate bid optimisations. A combined approach is needed, using deduped social activity to gauge true ROAS whilst also using Facebook post-view attribution on appropriate campaigns to assess further impact.

 

An appreciation of Social’s role within your wider marketing mix and business strategy is a key area of growth for many advertisers, to break it out of the silos and drive increased performance across your business. Armed with Jack’s advice, you’ll be able to develop a complete marketing strategy which allows you to share your insights to great success. You can view Jack’s slides here.

 

Top Tips for Sleigh-in’ it this Christmas

With Cyber Weekend behind us and Christmas looming ever closer, these next few weeks are the most crucial for any advertiser. We asked the team at NMPi for their top tips to make the most of your campaigns and snap up those last minute sales.

 

“Use your audiences effectively! It might be easier to capture searches for “insert-brand Christmas sales”, it’s a tired approach that relies on consumers actively looking for you. While efficiently capturing searches for just “Christmas sales” is more difficult, it can often prove more profitable if done right. You’ll be able to pull wandering consumers back to your brand and drive additional revenue all the while.” – Josh B, Senior Account Executive.

 

“On social, there are a couple of things you can take advantage of. If your messaging is based on gifting, then make sure your creatives reflect this. For example, have your creatives feature people enjoying your products, rather than focusing on products themselves. Also, remember that some customers may only buy from you once a year – they might not be a part of your normal demographic but are buying a gift for someone who is. To be able to retarget them, you can leverage CRM lists to circumvent the 180 day limit on Facebook pixel audiences. This way, you can target people who might have fallen out of the normal targeting window or don’t match your interest-based targeting.” – Jack C, Performance Manager.

 

“Storytelling over this period, particularly on display, is always a winner. Plan your ad copy or creative so each user learns more about your brand each time they see your ad.” – Charlie K, Account Executive.

 

“Increase your Display spend at the beginning of the month to raise awareness of your offering early on. While it might be a little late for that now, you should also ensure that your last delivery date is called out in your messaging.” – Alice M, Senior Account Manager.

There’s not long left until the big day, but with these top tips you’ll be able to pick up some quick wins across the Yuletide seasons. If you want to get some external insights into how your campaigns are performing, take advantage of our Christmas gift this year: a full digital audit. Get in touch with the team to request yours today.

A Story About Facebook Stories

Like every good story, this one begins once upon a time, last summer to be precise, when, a social media giant went through one of the biggest one-day losses in US corporate history. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, was reported to have lost more than £11.5bn in one day.

What was the reason behind his recent loss of fortune – or at least a small portion of it? Well that my friends, is a new chapter in the Facebook tale.

Reacting to a surge in popularity of short, visually-engaging formats, Facebook began rolling out Stories to its users and advertisers.

Facebook has restricted its newsfeed ads and has switched their focus to the new Stories format. While the format doesn’t currently bring in as much revenue as its more established counterpart, the bet is surely worth taking if the last five years are anything to go on.

What’s the Stories?

It all began back in 2013. Snapchat, an app with a camera at its heart, designed a tool which allowed its users to create a narrative from a collection of images and short videos. Named Stories, the format was unique in that posts would only have a lifespan of 24 hours. Evan Spiegel, CEO of Snapchat, said: “we learned that creativity can be suppressed by the fear of permanence, but also empowered through ephemerality.”

With point-and-shoot now more accessible than ever, the environment was ripe for Snapchat users to neglect the use of text. Instead, what they saw could be captured, edited and shared, creating a makeshift story for all of their friends to see.

Enter, Instagram Stories

Now, this wouldn’t be a story if it didn’t contain a bit of foreshadowing.

In August 2016, Facebook-owned Instagram had a problem: their product had become too high-end. In fact, many users felt the bar was set too high, and that their everyday pictures were not worthy of being posted to their feed.

So Instagram took a drastic step, copying their competitors to introduce Stories.

The new format was placed at the top of the app, inviting users to post to an audience made up of their existing social network. Now boasting 400 million daily users, the radical implementation has produced an engaged audience and now offers an effective way to speak to customers.

With this platform, though, it is more important than ever to adapt to the environment, a lesson learned quickly by The Guardian. Initially, their posts were tv-quality videos with high set up costs and did not generate the engagement they would have liked. They later adopted a form of native advertising, using short-video explainers and static graphics on news topics – fun content which is easy to make. By adapting to their surroundings, the news outlet has seen their Instagram account grow from 860,000 to one million followers over the last four months.

The Climax of the Story – Facebook Stories

To go forward you must go back, an ethos certainly practised by Facebook as of late. As the Newsfeed begins to reach its limit, the tech giant has planted the seed for the latest addition to paid-social advertising.

A change to the Newsfeed’s algorithm earlier in the year means that brands struggle to reach users organically and instead must rely on sponsored content in order to reach users on the platform. This is all part of Facebook’s desire to make the feed a place of “meaningful interactions” and consequently a shift away from newsfeed-focused advertising.

Introducing a new character to the tale, Chris Cox, Chief Product Officer of Facebook recently announced that “the Stories format is on a path to surpass feeds as the primary way people share things with their friends sometime next year.” A prediction with stats to support it, the consulting firm Block Party stated: “since early 2016 Stories creation and its consumption is up 842%.”

The Plot Thickens

On the brink of a visual communication era and a filling newsfeed, Facebook is shifting users towards Stories despite them monetising at “materially lower” rates than the Newsfeed, Brian Nowak of Morgan Stanley states. He believes that Facebook “will now need to increase its execution around stories engagement and ad innovation.”

With the introduction of Spotify and GoPro on Facebook Stories through third-party app integration, the foundations are set for our vertical protagonist. Perfect for brand-building exercises, the price to advertise through Stories is currently lower than to advertise on the Newsfeed.

And they all lived happily ever after

Perhaps the story is missing a Liam Neeson, David vs Goliath or even a frog-kissing princess, but the potential of Stories means there’s always a chance of a sequel.

A high degree of its success can be attributed to the short lifespan, giving users the freedom to post how they wish without the worry of an old post being quoted against them if they were to become Prime Minister (you never know). Once the feature was introduced to Instagram and the engagement it produced could be analysed, it was only a matter of time before Zuckerberg adopted and monetised Stories on the biggest of all social media platforms.

With ads at the heart of Facebook’s growth, Stories will allow them to create an environment which both elicits the greatest possible connection and allows their revenue model to flourish. Even if it does temporarily mean losing some loose change.

The end.

The Battle for Stories Ad Supremacy

Despite a growing user base and significant backing from Facebook, the Stories ad format has yet to be wholeheartedly embraced by the digital marketing community. Facebook has even taken to advertising Stories placements across the web to drum up interest.

Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram have been leading the charge on this new type of ad format. While Facebook Stories remain a fairly new advertising proposition and Snapchat struggles to win over advertisers around the world, Instagram Stories are currently the go-to for many companies, even if they haven’t been universally adopted.

Despite widespread hesitation to adopt this format, some retailers are keen to jump on the opportunity. We recently ran a large, full-funnel campaign for one of our clients across the different Stories platforms. This allowed us to test the benefits of each one, to find out how you can maximise performance with Stories ads.

Snapchat: the Originator

The originator of Stories, Snapchat, is the first to come to mind when thinking about this particular format. However, having previously been plagued with conversion tracking issues, many advertisers have lost faith in the platform as a home for paid social. While projected to earn £104.8M this year, the channel has only generated £68.4M – a solid 34.7% below target.

With that being said, there has been a big push to improve the advertising offering over the past few months, making us think the time was ripe for a retest.

The biggest selling point for Snapchat is its price, coming in 4 times lower than our Instagram activity. This meant that our budgets went even further, allowing us to reach even more of Snapchat’s highly sought after youth audience.

Ultimately,  we do have concerns about the quality of traffic, having seen a higher bounce rate than Facebook or Instagram. While it’s great to reach a wide audience, it’s even more important to have high-quality traffic.

Instagram: the Innovator

Instagram is the most widely used way to advertise with Stories content, and its innovative formats pave the way for the industry.

We were able to test new features for our campaign including, the Stories carousel and Facebook’s video editor; which allows you to create videos from existing images. At the time of writing, these opportunities were not available on any other platform.

Despite forecasting strong performance, we saw the weakest engagement from the Instagram campaigns. The higher cost of media, likely caused by increased competition, and lower CTR resulted in the highest cost per conversion across all of our tests. However, this could be the result of doing the majority of our testing within this platform.

With this in mind, Instagram remains the easiest to use with the most opportunity to test new features and ideas. Most recently, a Shopping feature has been released for organic Stories, which means if it’s successful it’s likely to become available as a paid format.

Facebook: the Newbie

Facebook Stories are the new kids on the block, only recently launching as a paid advertising format. Sadly, this becomes fairly apparent when you come to build a campaign. The innovation present on Instagram hasn’t crossed streams onto Facebook just yet, and so we were limited to single images. Also, at the moment you can’t just target Facebook Stories, you have to include Instagram as well. This means that you don’t have anywhere near as much control over your budget – we only saw 11% of our budget going into our Facebook Stories ad placement, despite having a 34% lower cost per visit. This is likely due to a lack of inventory available on this platform.

Facebook certainly has promise with a cheaper price and similar CTR to Instagram. Unfortunately, the current reduced inventory does hinder performance, and a lack of budget control will certainly put some off. This is one for the early adopters to play around with before the inevitable rise in CPMs as more businesses get on board.

NMPi: the Decider

Each of the different platforms inevitably has their strengths and so if you aren’t currently making use of them, you definitely should be. However, it is important that advertisers treat Stories, as well a mobile in general, with the respect they deserve. Content specifically designed for Stories will achieve greater performance, and the more holistic the viewing experience for the user, the more engagement you will see.

Your mobile site is just as important as the content you produce; the battle isn’t won once you’ve made the user swipe up. If your mobile site is a chore to navigate with a long load time the users will click off.

However, as is to be expected with such new platforms they don’t come without their problems. You cannot run Facebook Stories ads without also running ads on Instagram Stories, which makes it difficult to recommend the platform on its own. While Snapchat drives high volumes of traffic, there was a high bounce rate to match and so wasn’t the best option for our ads.

On the other hand, while we saw our weakest engagement on Instagram, it’s still our platform of choice. It is the most sophisticated option, which continues to roll out new features to further differentiate its offering, and we believe that the low engagement rate was mostly down to our high level of experimentation throughout this campaign. Further, the traffic we attracted on Instagram was of a higher quality than from Snapchat. So, if you’re trying to decide which of the three to trial first, make it Instagram.

With that said, keep your eyes on this space. It seems inevitable that they will continue to grow and expand their solutions, not to mention improve any current shortcomings.   

Facebook Announces New WhatsApp Ads for 2019

In February 2014, messaging platform WhatsApp joined the Facebook family with their adless reputation still intact. Since its launch in 2009, WhatsApp has drawn in users with its “no-ads” mantra and its end-to-end encryption, but those days seem to be numbered with the announcement of ads which will appear on the Status page coming to the service in 2019.

What Do We Know?

The WhatsApp Status feature was introduced in early 2017 and works much in the same way as many other Story platforms like Facebook and Instagram Stories, and Snapchat. Users can upload photos to show their contacts what they’re up to, with the promise that these videos will be gone in 24 hours. However, uptake has been weak with less than 50% of account holders making use of the feature.

Despite this, and against the platform’s long-standing commitment to providing an ad-free service, Facebook has confirmed that ads will be rolled out into the Status feature at some point in 2019 to the dismay of users and stakeholders alike. WhatsApp’s co-founders didn’t originally know that Facebook wanted to start sharing data across platforms to help target ads at users, which in part led to Brian Acton leaving the company last September.

Users are also unhappy about the news, as it appears many of the platform’s main selling points have now gone to the wayside. WhatsApp’s founders never wanted to know more than your phone number and promised end-to-end message encryption, but many are worried about how much information will be scraped from their private conversations.

What Don’t We Know?

A big question that many advertisers will have is how linked it will be to Facebook, as this will have an impact on the level of targeting available, how much information about a user is made available, and how tied to the Facebook Ads Manager it will be.

For instance, by linking a WhatsApp profile to a Facebook account, this gives an advertiser access to all of Facebook’s targeting methods, raising the question, how easy it will be to integrate WhatsApp advertising into your social advertising campaigns. Will WhatsApp be part of the Facebook Ads Manager – like Instagram is – or will it be managed independently?

WhatsApp operates on a very low barrier to entry, only requiring a phone number to sign up. As such, will the platform be able to link this mobile number to a Facebook account? This will provide more information than is currently available on WhatsApp alone. With account information, advertisers will be able to apply similar targeting strategies to those on Facebook such as interest segments and lookalikes.

It will be interesting to see what kind of creative formats are available: will there be a variety, as there is for Instagram Stories, or will it be more like Facebook Messenger where you can only use single image ads.

There will be a lot of questions about how much information will be scraped from messages and just how much personal data will be shared between Facebook’s platforms. This will be crucial to getting consumer buy-in, as many users will be frustrated if they feel like information from their private conversations is being exploited.

Furthermore, the only ad format being put forward at the moment will appear in the WhatsApp Status, similar to Facebook or Instagram Stories, which are viewed by less than 50% of users. Whether this is extended out into Chat remains to be seen, as this may result in people deserting the service and thus making it unprofitable as an advertising platform.

Currently, we have more questions than answers, but monetising WhatsApp was going to happen at some point, even if it has been soon than many would have liked or even anticipated. This is certainly a platform to keep an eye on as the potential is enormous, but testing will be necessary to assess the actual value.

NMPi Acquires Boutique Paid Social Specialists, MediaPact

We are excited to announce our acquisition of boutique paid social specialists, MediaPact. Following a year of international expansion in 2017, this kicks off another year of continued growth. Last year, we opened 2 offices in the US, and this will further our growth in the Paid Social market: allowing us to grow our presence in the US market, providing benefits not just to our US clients but those across the globe.

MediaPact is based in Los Angeles, California, offering paid social advertising on a performance model and working with clients such as Fabletics, JustFab and Nicequest. With their specific expertise and our international footprint, it’s a match made in heaven that will further develop our Paid Social offering.

Our CEO, Luke Judge, took a moment to discuss what this acquisition means for the company. “We are always looking for ways to strengthen our service offering and from the beginning, it has been clear that NMPi and MediaPact’s similar heritage, rooted in performance marketing, makes us a great match.”

Paid Social has been an integral part of our proposition for a number of years, and this expansion of our knowledge couldn’t come at a better time. MediaPact’s American influence will help support our continued growth in the US market, and will also allow our clients to gain earlier access to Facebook and Instagram betas that are launched overseas first.

“MediaPact’s knowledge will help amplify our expertise and reach for a service that is growing exponentially within our business,” says Judge.

Nathan McCurley, Senior Customer Success Manager at MediaPact, is also looking forward to the partnership. “Social media marketing remains a vital part of our strategic offering and we’re excited for the joint benefits this acquisition will bring.”

This acquisition demonstrates that we have no plans to slow down after 2017’s successes and that we at NMPi will continue to grow, both in terms of our services and our international activity.  

Facebook Attribution: Smoke & Mirrors or the Real Deal?

Whilst it is tempting for any current blog regarding Facebook to address the ongoing scandal around the illicit harvesting, packaging and selling of unknowing users’ data, there is another Facebook practice shrouded in just as much mystery: attribution.

Many digital marketing channels have moved their attribution towards time-decay models, data-driven attribution or, at the very least, last click. However, Facebook stubbornly remains in a siloed, insular attribution model that is more in keeping with the early 2000’s than 2018. Ultimately, this is impacting advertiser’s desire to invest further in a channel that is unparalleled in terms of its targeting capabilities and creative options.

The Problem

The main problem with Facebook’s attribution is their steadfast refusal to allow third-party post-view tracking on all custom targeting options. Without third-party tracking, it’s not possible to de-dupe against your other marketing channels. As a result, Facebook will attribute a sale to an ad within Facebook regardless of whether this was the only touch point in the path to purchase or whether the user viewed a display ad, clicked a search ad and then just glanced at their Facebook during the checkout process.

This effect can be seen in the example below, where three channels would have claimed responsibility for the driven sale.

Anecdotally, I’ve heard stories of Paid Social claiming up to a ridiculous 50% of total digital revenue as a result of this siloed view, with over 80% of overall revenue already accounted for by properly attributed channels.

Consequently, we as marketers are put in a position where we need to decide between completely overvaluing the effect of post-view interactions on revenue, or solely utilising post-click attribution via attribution services such as Google Analytics.

This overvaluation of Facebook’s role in the conversion path ends up having the inverse effect, causing advertisers to undervalue Paid Social. A lack of faith in results driven through this channel means that even the sales genuinely driven via Paid Social are often lost in the crowd of misallocated conversions. Ultimately, this leads to inefficient budgeting and a serious lost opportunity to show compelling advertising to billions of active daily users.

There’s Another Way

Many marketers have decided to continue to use Facebook’s massively flawed attribution “model” (i.e. award everything to Facebook) rather than look at alternatives. This is clearly unacceptable. How can we begin to apply bid optimisations, determine budget allocation and effectively test using such an inaccurate system? We’ve lacked a solution to efficiently attribute sales involving a Facebook/Instagram touch point.

One advantage we have in our aim for clearer, more accurate Facebook attribution is that our accounts are all whitelisted to use third-party post-view on non-custom Facebook audiences. This includes all interest, behavioural or demographic targeting, but excludes anything built from CRM lists or the Facebook pixel, including look-a-likes and all dynamic activity.

By being whitelisted, we are able to appropriately attribute and de-dupe post-view sales from these campaigns, but also to view the role these campaigns play in the path to purchase. Whilst a video prospecting campaign may not lead to many de-duped post-view sales, it will play a key role in the path to purchase. Without insight into brand engagement, budgets may be unfairly cut.

Whilst Facebook are reluctant to allow full insight into post-view ad performance, they are much more open with post-click via the use of click trackers from DoubleClick, Google Analytics, and affiliate networks. However, many advertisers have yet to make use of the click trackers, potentially because they fear that the de-duped view will drastically devalue their channel or misunderstanding the effort involved in setting this up.  If your reluctance to de-dupe is born from fear of the results then, put simply, you either need to have more faith in your campaigns or improve them!

We’ve seen strong results when de-duping on a post click basis for direct response campaigns. For example, in the campaign below, despite losing 70% of Facebook-attributed post-click sales when de-duped, we were still able to drive revenue at a ROAS of over 400%.

The level of de-duping varies quite significantly across the various campaign strategies, but this gives an idea as to the overall scale of sales Facebook will mistakenly claim 100% of the credit for. This is also discounting the vast amount of additional post-view “sales” that Facebook will claim. De-duping avoids the double or even triple counting of sales seen in the path to purchase shown earlier. Instead, by utilising third-party attribution tracking, we are left with one channel claiming the purchase whilst appreciating the value of other touchpoints.

To Conclude

The ultimate result of this is that your Facebook and Instagram activity becomes a bona fide part of your marketing funnel. You can have faith in the sales that Facebook claims and use insights into the path to purchase to efficiently allocate prospecting budget.

FACEBOOK: Top 3 Tips to Convert this Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day: one of the biggest retail holidays in the calendar. With only 7 shopping days left until the big day, we’ve compiled some of the best tips to get the most out of your Facebook advertising spend and maximise your conversions in the last minute shopping frenzy.

Finding “The One”

With Facebook and Instagram Advertising, you’re able to really drill down on the right target audience, which is particularly important with this specific holiday. Most people have their relationship status on their profiles, making this crucial data readily and easily available to advertisers. This allows you to target users who are in relationships, whilst not wasting your budget on the single population.

When you targeting people in a relationship consider differentiating by relationship type: boyfriend/girlfriend, just engaged, newly weds, or married long term. This will allow you to personalise your messaging for a higher conversion rate.

Make sure to build custom audiences specifically, people who are looking at Valentine’s offer pages on your website that have yet to purchase. You can then retarget these users with the products they were looking at.

Be a Smooth Talker

Since you can do such granular advertising on Facebook, you need to make sure your copy is up to the task. Differentiate your messages between male and female audiences. Make sure you’re highlighting any services like Click and Collect or Free Delivery: these will be hugely important as consumers do their last minute shopping. However, if there’s terms and conditions on these services they need to be clear. Sequential messaging might also be useful as a reminder to the consumer of deadlines for online ordering.

For instance, “Last chance to get delivery in time for Valentine’s Day. Get your order in today and receive free shipping on gifts over £50.”

This puts a sense of urgency into the user and will encourage them to convert.

Another aspect of your ad that is crucial to nail is your landing pages. If you’ve got two separate ad campaigns running as “Gifts for Him” and “Gifts for Her”, you’ll need to ensure that you have corresponding ad pages for them. If you’re advertising gifts for her, consumers will be less likely to convert if they’re served a generic landing page. Any offers for the holiday such as, 10% all gifts, will have a higher conversion rate with a dedicated landing page.

Dressed to Impress

When creating your ads, the best performing formats are the carousel, and video. Something important to note: keep the copy on the images to an absolute minimum, if you need it at all. Facebook doesn’t tend to serve ads that have too many words on them.

Also, ensure that your images are the correct size for the platform. A picture that is optimised for Facebook on desktop is never going to look the same on Instagram. Speaking of Instagram, video also works really well here. If in doubt, a high quality photo showcasing your product works the dream.

7 Days to Go, the Countdown is on

So, if you want to maximise your conversions this Valentine’s Day: make the most of the targeting capabilities available, keep your copy tight with relevant landing pages, and showcase products using video and carousel formats.

For more tips on how to convert using Facebook, download our whitepaper: 5 Facebook Advertising Tactics to Drive Performance