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Facebook Ads is one of the top PPC platforms right now. With more than 7 million brands currently advertising on the platform trying to reach their audience among Facebook’s 1.59 billion daily active users, this isn’t too surprising.
The ad system, after all, is versatile and holds a lot of potential. Advertisers are able to reach users while they’re viewing their friends’ Stories, watching videos on the platform, and even when they’re scrolling through their messages. A variety of ad formats and placements allows brands to reach users in almost any location and in a number of different ways, which can contribute to the great potential for clicks, engagement and high conversion rates.
In order to best leverage the platform for your business, though, it’s important to know all the latest and greatest features that Facebook has to offer. Knowing the changes will help you to stay competitive, using all the cutting-edge features and adapting to updates that impact marketers.
A lot has changed in the past few years, so let’s take a look at the 7 new Facebook Ads changes that all marketers should be aware of.
1) The Native Facebook Ad Tester
Testing ads is one of the most crucial parts of the ad management process, so it only makes sense that Facebook released a native ad tester tool with their split testing feature in recent history. The split tester isn’t brand new, but it is newer compared to most features on the platform, it was updated relatively recently, and it’s one of the more significant tools that advertisers can use to streamline their campaigns quickly.
When you create an ad campaign on Facebook, you’ll notice the option to split test your campaign. This lets you split test one of the four following options:
- The creative
- Delivery optimization
- The audience
- The placement
You can only test one variable at a time, but that’s a good thing; it shows you what changes are actually leading to the increase or decrease in results. You can create multiple versions of whatever you want to test and then Facebook will let you know which specific ads and ad sets perform best, allowing you to focus on more of those strategies moving forward.
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2) Mobile Ad Formatting Gets an Update
Facebook announced a little earlier this year that their mobile formatting – including mobile ad formatting – was getting a big overhaul. Since 96% of all Facebook users access the network through their tablet or smartphone, it is essential to be up to date on this feature.
Starting on August 19th of this year, Facebook switched up mobile formatting, and you can see the changes here:
For a quick recap, here’s what’s different:
- The aspect ratio is going from 2:3 to 4:5
- Only three lines of text will be available before the “See More” prompt, as opposed to the previous 7 lines.
It’s essential to adapt to these updates, not just going forward, but to all campaigns that you were running before this update was implemented. If your image is taller than the new 4:5 aspect ratio, the images will actually be masked on the mobile newsfeed. This is the last thing you want, so double check all your currently running creatives.
When it comes to text, it’s more important than ever before to use the copywriting strategy I call “frontloading.” This is ensuring that you put the most important, attention-grabbing information at the very front of the copy.
Treat it as a journalist would a lede, asking yourself what’s the one thing that will make people read your full ad. Start with that, and then elaborate; you can afford to do so as long as you get the key attention-grabbing copy in the first three sentences.
3) Facebook’s 1 Relevance Score Is Divided into 3 Metrics
Facebook’s relevance score was originally a single metric that told advertisers how relevant their ad campaign was to their target audience. This was essentially a predictor of success, and it also contributed to success; ads with higher relevance scores could be given priority placements, and they often saw a direct decrease in CPC costs.
Now, the single relevance score has been divided into three different metrics. This was done to offer businesses more actionable insights into the score they receive, making it easier for them to adapt and improve.
As defined by Facebook, these are the three new metrics and what they entail:
- Quality ranking: How your ad’s perceived quality compares with ads competing for the same audience.
- Engagement rate ranking: How your ad’s expected engagement rate compares with ads competing for the same audience.
- Conversion rate ranking: How your ad’s expected conversion rate compares with ads that have the same optimization goal and compete for the same audience.
The change happened in April, so if you haven’t yet, take a look at your ads manager to check where you’re failing for each of these relevance scores:
Here’s the scoring system:
- Relevance Score 1-3: Not relevant. Low impressions. Higher bids required.
- Relevance Score 4-7: Relevant. Solid impressions. Average bids.
- Relevance Score 8-10: Extremely relevant. High impressions. Lower bids.
In many cases, I’ve found that these metrics are pretty similar to each other for the majority of the campaigns I’ve run. Most campaigns saw only minor fluctuations between the three rankings, with no more than a two-number difference in scores from the highest to the lowest. Quality seems to work well alongside engagement rate and conversion rate rankings.
That being said, I have seen the rare campaigns where these scores can be all over the place. Engagement was a 7 and conversion was all the way down at a 2. In my experience, these all-over-the-place metrics can be a sign of an unstable campaign, so take that one back to the drawing board and try to assess what went wrong.
4) High-Converting Collection Ads
Collection ads are a newer format, but they’re an insanely effective one. There’s a reason there’s been a flurry of brands releasing new collection ads in the past few months, and it all comes down to their high-conversion rates.
Sephora, for example, used collection ads to increase their click-through rate by 41% and saw a 32% higher return on ad spend than other campaigns.
Collection ads are a mobile experience ad format that allows advertisers to choose a single image or video to feature in their ad, and then list images of multiple products underneath it. When users click on it, the full collection is expanded and shows more of your product catalog. They’re a little like carousel ads on crack: more interactive and with more options in tow.
In order to create collection ads, you can use one of their existing templates to get started or create your own. They’re technically an “instant experience” (which is a rebranded version of the Canvas ads), but they’re easy to create, template or not.
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5) Facebook’s Ads Library
Facebook’s Ads Library is kind of like version 2.0 of the transparency tool they released last year that allowed anyone to see all the ads a Page was currently running. That feature has since been removed, and now you can view ads all in one place: the Ads Library.
Theoretically, all ads that a Page is running can still be found when you search for that Page here. I’ve noticed some glitches and that some ads don’t seem to show up, but an increasing majority do. It seems that the longer the tool is up and running, the better for everyone.
When used correctly, this is an outstanding competitor research tool. You can see the ads that your direct competition is running, look at their current offers and sales, and even identify a few key strategies. By seeing what appeals they’re using and which pain points they’re targeting, you may discover a few new strategies for yourself. You can learn more about this here.
6) Facebook’s Pixel Standard Event Codes
Facebook’s pixel is an exceptional tool for marketers and advertisers. As it stands right now, it allows brands to track user activity from the first click on their ad all the way to a conversion (hopefully!) on their site.
You can see how effective your ad campaigns were, which is how Facebook is able to track successful conversion rates in the ads manager. The pixel also tracks off-platform activity so advertisers can re-market to users (though this may be changing soon…we’ll cover this in the next section).
Facebook’s pixel has gotten a few updates in the past five years, and one of the bigger ones was the addition of standard event codes. Pixels track activity, but they can only track activity if they’re coded to do so, and that’s on the part of the advertiser.
The pixel doesn’t automatically know if a sale has been made, for example; it’s made aware when you place the conversion snippet of the code on the order confirmation page, which is fired off every time customers successfully complete a purchase.
Similarly, the pixel can absolutely track adds to cart or a subscription to your blog; you just need to program it to do so.
Standard event codes have made it much easier to do this so you can track the success of your campaigns and ideally retarget based on triggered actions. It’s a powerful one-two punch. Facebook has offered a series of different “standard events” that are common for brands to track, and they’ve got them for a range of different industries, including education, real estate, e-commerce and retail.
When you find a standard event you want to track, you can view its specific instructions and get the extra snippet of code that you’ll need to track it. This is much simpler than older versions of the pixel, and the step-by-step instructions are easy to implement.
Need help setting up your pixel? This post covers the topic in-depth.
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7) The Upcoming Release of the Clear History Tool
Facebook’s Clear History tool isn’t officially out on a wide-scale basis yet, but it will be very soon.
Facebook currently stores an enormous amount of data, tracking the majority of what users are doing online even when it’s not happening on the mobile app. This, naturally, has raised major privacy concerns over the past year, especially considering Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal. So now, Facebook has started slowly rolling out the Clear History tool, which will give users control over this information and allow them to wipe it from Facebook’s database.
This is great news for users, but not so great for advertisers. All that information, after all, is what allows advertisers to create those laser-sharp targeted campaigns based on what users are doing online. Facebook confirmed that this can impact brands’ abilities to run retargeting campaigns based on website activity. So yep, not great news for advertisers who use this data to create strong campaigns.
Here's the good news, though: there’s a chance that this tool won’t eliminate the tracking of some on-platform actions, like watching a video campaign or filling out a lead form. These two ad types will become even more important, therefore, allowing you to create follow-up retargeting campaigns where little else will. Custom audiences will also become more important, giving you the chance to retarget based on specific audience lists.
This tool has started rolling out. Be ready, and have campaign strategies locked and loaded.
Facebook has always been a quickly evolving platform, and even after spending the last year bogged down with lawsuits over privacy concerns, they’ve still managed to roll out some incredible features that offer marketers new ways to better reach their target audiences.
As with all platforms, staying up to date with all new changes – good and bad – will ensure that you’re at the top of your game, taking advantage of the most useful new features while navigating around any that aren’t so great.
Agility is a key skill in advertising, especially when the platforms we’re relying on change so frequently. Keep an eye on what’s happening on the platforms you use most, and always remember to check in at the Single Grain blog, where we’re likely to cover recent changes that may be impacting you!