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Facebook’s New and Notable Ad Features

Standard Facebook ads often take a backseat to the Facebook Exchange (FBX) in a digital advertising campaign these days, but at RKG we acknowledge that both are important pieces of an advertiser’s media mix. Facebook’s standard ads are often used in more of a branding play than FBX or other direct response advertising, making them a valuable upper funnel channel.

Many advertisers with a Facebook page take advantage of Facebook’s easy “promote post” options, but there are many other new, notable and useful features of Facebook ads, proving it as a worthy channel to master.

Transition from Ad Types to Ad Objectives

Since we last wrote about Facebook ad types, Facebook has cut down on the number of ad types offered and switched to a new “ad objectives” model. Ad objectives simplify the former Facebook ad types by clearly stating what goal they’ll accomplish and eliminating the redundancy and confusion of old ad types.

For example, a marketer could have used a Marketplace Ad or a Link Page Post Ad to drive traffic to their website. Now, they would simply select the “Clicks to Website” ad objective to drive the response they want. The first step in the Facebook ad creation process now looks like this:

rkg-facebook-ad-creation

The Page Post Engagement ad objective drives likes, comments, and shares of posts, as well as photo views or video plays, depending on what type of post is used, but all of these are geared towards encouraging users to engage with the unit. Advertisers have the option of using an existing post from their page, or creating a new unpublished post which will only be used as an ad and not appear on their page. Unpublished posts are especially useful when using a variety of targeting options to reach users who are not yet fans of the page, as every ad targeting a different group would show as a separate post on the advertiser’s Facebook page if they didn’t use unpublished posts.

The Page Likes ad objective helps advertisers acquire new fans for their pages. The more fans your page has, the more people organic posts can reach.  This ad type is most similar to sponsored stories.

The Website Conversions ad objective is the closest standard Facebook ads can get to direct response marketing. Website Conversions ads direct traffic to an external website, requiring a conversion pixel on the site. The conversion pixels allow marketers to track a variety of conversions and microconversions: checkouts, registrations, leads, key page views, adds to cart, or other website conversions. A value can be assigned to each conversion type or dynamically inserted. If a conversion pixel is not able to be placed, the Clicks to Website ad objective is the next best alternative to drive traffic towards website conversions.

Marketers promoting mobile apps, events and Facebook-specific offers can use the App Installs, App Engagement, Event Responses, and Offer Claims ad objectives.  These tailored ad objectives work specifically for those goals.

Another benefit of the new ad objectives is the ability to track campaign performance by desired result. In an advertiser’s campaign dashboard, the results and cost per objective are reported at the campaign level for a quick performance overview.

rkg-facebook-ad-results

The Evolution of Sponsored Stories

One Facebook ad type which survived the transition to ad objectives is Sponsored Stories. Sponsored Stories help brands build rapport/reputability with users by means of a friend’s endorsement. Users are much more likely to “like” or engage with a brand if they see that one or more of their friends has. This social context has led Sponsored Stories to be a top-performing ad type in driving page likes. Today, Sponsored Stories look like this:

rkg-facebook-sponsored-stories-example

Soon, Sponsored Stories will no longer exist as a standalone ad unit. Social context will now be automatically incorporated into the eligible ad objectives mentioned above. For example, a Page Like Ad currently looks like this:

rkg-facebook-page-like-ad-example

With the automatic incorporation of social context, Page Like Ads are beginning to look like this:

rkg-facebook-page-like-ad-context

With this change, we expect to see higher click-through rates as social context increases the relevancy of Facebook ads to users and builds reputability of the advertised brands. One client of ours recently saw a large lift from social context: users were nearly twice as likely to click and over three times more likely to “like” a page when social context was included with a page like ad.

Calling Users to Action

One of the newest (and arguably the best) features of Facebook’s Page Post Ads (the type of ad you can create through the Page Post Engagement, Website Conversions, and Clicks to Website ad objectives) is the “Call-to-Action” (CTA) button on Link Page Posts, one of the types of Page Post Ads.  Previously, Page Post Ads could connect to an advertiser’s Facebook page by enabling an option to include a link in the body of the ad:

rkg-facebook-ad-external-link

The Jasper’s Market title links to their Facebook Page. A link to an external site could be optionally included in the post text.

Facebook now provides a clear button directing a user to an external link:

rkg-facebook-ad-external-shop-now

Here, the Jasper’s Market title still links to their Facebook Page, but the Shop Now button links to an external site, still with the option to provide the link in the post text.

Not only does the button provide a clear place for the user to click, it adds an official option for linking to an external site.  While historically Facebook preferred to give advertisers the option for either an internal or external link, but not both, they have enabled links of both types in the same ad, promoting a fluidity between Facebook other digital efforts.   Though still relatively new, advertisers are already seeing improved click-through rates while utilizing the CTA button.

There are Call-to-Action buttons for whatever your goal on Facebook may be– “Shop Now”, “Learn More”, “Sign Up”, “Book Now”, and “Download”.  These mirror many of the new Facebook ad objectives.  While Facebook advertising is an important platform in a holistic advertising plan, this change reflects Facebook’s acknowledgement that true conversions happen on advertisers’ websites.

With all the recent changes we’ve seen to the Facebook ads landscape, it’s clear that Facebook is trying to make advertising within their platform more accessible.  Ad types are now ad objectives, which help advertisers discern exactly what type of ads they should chose to run to meet their goals.  Sponsored Stories are now embedded into the structure of Page Post Engagement ads to help boost CTR and user engagement.  Call-to-Action buttons will also help give users an easy path to click through to either the advertiser’s Facebook page or their website.  All of these are helping make advertising on Facebook more trackable, understandable, and actionable for advertisers.


  • Lizzie Mongan is Display Marketing Analyst at RKG.
  • Kalika Nowlakha
    Kalika is a Display Marketing Analyst at RKG.
  • Comments
    4 Responses to “Facebook’s New and Notable Ad Features”
    1. Brodie Tyler says:

      This reminds me of those studies that found sites with a positive Tweet from a real person included, even a stranger to anyone visiting the page, had a significantly higher conversion rates than those that didn’t. I think this is probably going to work well for FB because even marketing-savvy types (like myself, of course) are more likely to check something out that their friend is into. It also feels like a more honest sort of targeted advertising and one people may resent less- “If a trusted friend likes this product, you probably will too.”

    2. Carol M says:

      For someone who is not marketing savvy (me!), I think the CTA button is a great idea…just one click and I’m there, instead of just looking at an ad and wondering how to see more. Without that call to action button, the ad has to be pretty appealing and several of my friends will have had to have liked the advertiser’s page for me to search it out for more info.

    3. I like this new transition. The Ad Objectives makes the process seem a lot more streamlined and easier to target specific groups.

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