Interview with Social Times Pro, II: Facebook ads cost less, perform better than display ads

Why Facebook's Self-Serve Ad Platform Works

Social Targeting: Why Facebook's Self-Serve Ad Platform Works

I was recently interviewed for the report “Social Targeting: Why Facebook’s Self-Serve Ad Platform Works” from SocialTimes Pro lead analyst Tameka Kee (@geekychic). The full report is available for download to subscribers. Here’s an excerpt:

Case study: Facebook ads cost less, but perform better than display

As with search, it is important for a Facebook campaign to focus on user interests if it’s going to outperform display. But what if a brand isn’t exactly sure what its target audience is interested in?

Research shows that even minimal interest-based targeting can create effective campaigns, and because Facebook ads cost so much less than display, marketers can afford to experiment and optimize.

  • Target audience: Facebook users who saw the brand’s commercial spot
  • Flight time: Eight weeks; Sept/Oct 2010
  • Brands involved: CPG brand
  • Agency/Developer: Bulbstorm
  • Cost: Undisclosed

The CPG brand wanted to support its existing TV campaign with online ads and test the efficacy of Facebook’s targeting platform in the process. The campaign included display ads on Yahoo and other content networks, as well as Facebook ads; all creative drove traffic back to special landing pages.

The TV spots only ran in 12 markets, so that helped to narrow the Facebook target. But according to Matt Simpson, Bulbstorm’s marketing director, the brand only broadly targeted based on “general” interests. “We wanted to get a clean read on the performance vs. display overall,” Simpson said. The results were stellar:


  • Facebook ads generated 12X the impressions
  • Facebook ads generated 4X the CTR
  • Facebook campaign came in at one-fifth the price of display

Why it worked: Simpson attributes some of the Facebook campaign’s over-performance to “banner blindness,” or the idea that most Web users are so accustomed to ordinary display ads that they don’t even acknowledge them on a page.

The other factor was the Facebook ad’s pithy copy, as well as the socially-targeted environment. “Even without intense targeting, the ads only showed up to users that the brand thought had relevant social context.”

Copyright 2011 WebMediaBrands Inc. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission from SocialTimes Pro.

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