25 Sep 2018
Facebook advertising performance: what really matters
True Facebook advertising success – measured in robust return on investment (ROI) – can be tough to come by these days.
The Facebook news feed is a crowded place and one filled with fickle, desensitized users whose marketing savvy has been forged in the fires of the global digital revolution.
Grabbing user attention and holding it for more than the briefest of seconds is a difficult enough task all on its own. Turning that user attention into clicks and revenue once it’s been captured? That’s another matter altogether.
The prevailing wisdom on Facebook advertising campaign success dictates that the better and more attention-grabbing images/videos you use in a Facebook ad, the better that ad will perform. More/longer views = higher-performing ads. While there is certainly some truth in this belief, the data suggests that there may be a little more to the story.
Let’s take a look at what REALLY determines success or failure for a Facebook advertising campaign.
User attention matters.
Nothing makes an ad jump out on the Facebook news feed quite like a well-crafted visual. That much is indeed true.
Finding just the right video or image for your Facebook ads is extremely important. Use a boring or uninteresting image for a Facebook ad campaign, and your ad is guaranteed to get (and stay) lost in the news feed. The same holds true for lame, dull videos. Sharp, engaging visuals are the surest way to claim and maintain the user attention that opens the door to Facebook ad success.
The thing is, all the user attention in the world won’t matter much if that’s as far down the path to purchase as your viewer’s tread. If a Facebook user watches every second of your brand’s video in rapt enjoyment, only to scroll further down the news feed and move on the second it’s finished, what have you really accomplished?
To really succeed on Facebook, an ad simply must generate more than views.
What matters more? Clicks-through.
In the world of social media advertising, the click-through is the holy grail. The average click-though rate for Facebook ads across all industries currently stands at less than 1% (0.9% to be exact).
That’s not good.
While views and brand impressions do indeed possess a value all their own, the goal of any ad campaign, Facebook or otherwise, is ultimately to generate return on investment (ROI). If a Facebook ad doesn’t generate revenue, it’s not doing its job.
Each and every ad view has the potential to result in revenue generation. And the path to revenue generation begins with a single click. If ad views represent the very top of the digital sales funnel (which they do), inspiring a viewer to click on an ad’s link or call to action (CTA) represents they key watershed moment in the user-Facebook ad interaction.
The importance of this moment – of the exact second an ad’s viewer makes the decision to take that crucial first step down the path to purchase – cannot be overstated. An ad’s visuals have done their job when they draw the user’s eye to your ad and keep it there long enough for you to make your pitch.
Once you’ve earned the opportunity to make that pitch, it’d better be good. It’s time for your Facebook ad copy to close the deal and earn your brand that all important click.
Optimizing Facebook ads to maximize performance
The million-dollar question is: how can a Facebook ad be optimized to generate a better click-though rate?
Here at Phrasee, we began conducting multivariate split tests on Facebook ads months ago. We split-tested campaigns at scale for variations of every Facebook ad element we could think of. The data we collected during these tests was extremely telling.
While optimizing an ad’s visual did indeed have an impact on its resulting click through rate, the variance was actually quite small. Changing an ad’s visuals could consistently be counted on to increase or decrease its resulting click-through rate by about 10% (It should be noted that we never ran any tests with really bad/boring visuals, because why would we?).
While certainly not a negligible difference (especially when applied to large campaigns with massive audience reach), this 10% variance paled in comparison to the variance which emerged from optimizing an ad’s copy.
When split-testing variations of Facebook ads in which the ad’s copy had been optimized, the results were absolutely stunning.
In identical Facebook ads with identical images or videos, changing an ad’s written copy produced variances in click-through performance which averaged almost 40%, and reached as high as 90%.
That’s right, a 90 PER CENT variance in click-through rate performance based strictly on the quality and construction of the copy that ad included.
Note: in the interest of full disclosure, it is essential to note that some of the copy used in our split-tests was generated using natural language generation and measured against ad copy which had been written by human copywriters.
The implication this split-testing data has revealed is clear: a Facebook ad’s copy is at least as important to its ROI-generating success as its images or video are, and possibly even more so.
Investing in effective visuals for your brand’s Facebook ads is (and always will be) worthwhile. The question is: if you aren’t already also investing in optimizing your Facebook ad copy to maximize click-through performance, what are you waiting for?