“My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.”
- Queen of Hearts, Alice in Wonderland
What are the changes?
Over the past few years Facebook has gone through a similar monetization transformation that Google performed in the decade before - very successfully and much faster. It allowed brands to publish their content to get noticed, then experimented with a number of ad formats - and once it settled on winning formulas for mobile and display, opened the floodgates for advertisers to buy ads at scale.
In the recent months, Facebook ads have been quietly undergoing the next round of evolution (again, not dissimilar from Google’s path). First, Facebook rolled out its own “Quality Scores”, which means that the most relevant ads will now see the lowest CPA’s across your campaigns.
And then last month at F8, Facebook also announced much deeper targeting options across its network via the LiveRail platform. Until now, LiveRail’s exchange was limited to video ads. Now, it can auction off extra ad space across other digital channels. LiveRail will use anonymized user data to help publishers target potential customers who aren’t on Facebook, but using the Facebook targeting capabilities. Publishers who use LiveRail will be able to leverage Facebook’s user data and Facebook segments.
What does this mean for me?
Two things are clear - you now have wider options to get more while spending less, but you also need to dig in a little further to get the best return on your campaigns.
Of course, as with any changes, whether this is good news or bad news depends on what you have been doing so far:
if you already know what works for you, you will have more targeting options at your disposal
if your approach was more of a “spray-and-pray” based on volume, you may suddenly find your efforts a bit less efficient
if you are just starting out with your FB ad efforts, you definitely have the option to have more powerful tools at your disposal
Facebook now allows you to set up highly targeted audience segments. However, to figure out which segments work best for you, you will still need to do a certain amount of experimentation and ongoing optimization. In order to understand how your campaigns are performing, you would still need a powerful enough analytics solution that will allow you to see the right data. Key features that you need to figure out your optimal segments are :
trending data on spend and campaign performance
easy visualization of your most effective campaigns
custom views that allow you to see historical trends across multiple variables and dimensions
These are the features that you have probably become used to in tools like Google Analytics but they are not yet available for your Facebook campaign data.
What are my options for getting proper analytics at my disposal?
While a few different options will always exist, if you want to achieve consistent ROI on your efforts, it’s important for you to take active ownership of how you are going to get access to the right analytics. At the moment, your main options are:
- if you are really big, Facebook might just do a deal directly with you
- if you are willing and able to commit to high spend, some FB buying platforms will do the analytics for you
- if you are comfortable optimizing campaigns yourself, but budget is an issue or you'd just rather not spend more than you have to, you can find a way to get access to custom reports and focus the rest of your efforts and budget on optimization
Mastering analytics is your main tool in keeping up with change
Pace of change on all leading online advertising platforms definitely keeps speeding up. You no longer have the luxury of just figuring out one strategy for one channel and hoping it scales and works in perpetuity - not even close. And as these platforms move more and more towards “walled garden” strategy, keeping up with change will only become more important (case and point - Twitter cutting off players like Datasift and domino effects that has for analytics packages that were totally reliant on that setup). Strong analytics strategy is what helps you to stay ahead of the game.