Assuming you’ve got a Facebook page or pages, targeting the network’s users where they are likely to look - their ‘news feed’ on their mobile, tablet or desktop- is as simple as getting to grips with the advertising interface, or asking us to help do this. 


Now would seem like a good time- The Nanigans Global Facebook Advertising Benchmark Report for Q4 2014 shows that engagement is improving- Global click through rates have gone up a whopping 197% in a year to 0.69%. 

The increase is impressive, and seems to imply that -alongside some algorithm improvements on Facebook’s side, perhaps- advertisers are making a better job of the targeting.  So how are they finding more appropriate audiences? Based on campaigns we have run recently, we’ve got a few tips to help you target more effectively and set your own bar for engagement with Facebook ads.            

Not just a single audience

In the context of Facebook advertising, an audience means a group of people who fit criteria you set. In their tools, this is called an ‘ad set’. The first thing to understand is that it’s likely that you will want to use several audiences in order to reach a wider selection of people who want to engage. In any case, we have found that the best approach is to optimise from a wide base of audiences. If you have the same ads targeted at 10 different sets of people, then you’ll be able to monitor the difference between them and keep the ones that perform best based on actual data rather than assumptions. 

It is also a good idea to try different broad approaches to how the audiences are selected. Facebook ads can be targeted using specific topics or locations, for example, or you can create ‘lookalike’ audiences. We suggest trying both. 

If you can, base audiences on your own relevant users

If you have a group of users you have identified as relevant for your ad campaign, the ‘lookalike’ feature allows you to target a similar group on Facebook, and even to choose the degree of similarity. This is based on a percentage of people (from 1% to 10% within the group sharing the other criteria you have set) who res. Ideally, if you have social data for a group of users, you can query the user base by interests. That way, the base for your lookalike audiences is made up of people who have engaged with your site in a social way, and have direct interest in or affinity to topics that define your ad campaign. 

Correlate specific ad content with specific interests

For ads where your creative is specific, at least some of your audiences should reflect this. Say your campaign is focusing on a ticketing service but the creative features an image of Ed Sheeran. Lookalikes of a music-loving audience base could be effective, but it’s worth testing out lookalike audiences from within your own user base who like Ed Sheeran or his albums directly. You can also use Facebook tools to find an audience who like these topics directly, and see which of the audiences responds best. 

Make it a fair test

When you begin your campaigns, make sure that any audience groups that aren’t focused on specific creative see the same ads, and have the same daily budget allocated. By making the audience group itself the only element that changes, you can view a report of the campaign at any time and pick the metric that matters most to you and use it to pick which audiences to continue targeting. For ‘clicks to website’ campaigns, a good bet for this metric is cost per website click, so you get a balanced view of the value of the engagement.  

Give ads time to differentiate themselves

Once your ads are up and live, be patient. In most cases it takes between 12 and 24 hours for your different audiences to prove their relevance. 

There’s no need to be nervous about spending a lot of money on audiences that don’t perform well, as you can set a daily budget for each audience (‘Ad set’). You can set a lower budget for the first day or couple of days until you have selected the audiences for which you want to allocate more budget, and which ‘Ad sets’ to turn off. 

Optimise frequently

The audiences that perform best at the beginning of a campaign may not continue to give the best metrics through the whole campaign, so it is worth checking the Ad Manager reports on at least a daily basis. Within your best ad sets, there are also other tweaks that can be made to optimise your campaign. Start by seeing which specific ads (which content variants) have the best metrics. Any that are performing poorly can be turned off without affecting the overall budget to that audience.

Use Facebook’s feedback and data to contextualise

After each round of optimisation, allow time for you to see the effect of your changes on the campaign data. From the ‘ad sets’ view you can choose metrics that are important to you, or for more detail use the ‘view report’ function. Within this report you can also see which placements (ie desktop / mobile, right hand side ads or news feed ads) are performing better. You can edit your ad sets to turn certain placements on or off. Whenever you have made changes, make sure you monitor the results to ensure there is an improvement. Changing back to a previous setup is always possible if changes do not improve the campaign.  

Treat each campaign separately

You shouldn’t assume that if a approach works for one campaign, it will be the same for a different campaign - each time something major like the ad creative or the objective changes, it’s better to start with more audiences and keep optimising to find the best criteria and conditions for that specific campaign. 

If you do all that…

…your campaigns have the potential to smash Facebook’s average performance figures and show fantastic value for your budget. 

In one campaign we ran for a client, we followed all the steps above, using a combination of lookalike audiences and topic-based matching derived from social data. The results speak for themselves: for every pound spent, they saw up to 5 times more clicks to their sites than the Facebook average.

If you'd like us to think about how how we can provide audience insights to make the most of your budget, please give us a call on +44 (0)207 636 4400 or drop us an email