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The Anatomy of a High-Performing Facebook Ad

Stamats Insights

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What’s the best performing Facebook ad type—single image, carousel, or video? Digital Analyst Andrew Rohlf and Chief Content Officer Christoph Trappe from Stamats discuss the results of reviewing 1 million Facebook ads.

What goes into creating a strong Facebook ad that will bring in results? Find out now.


Christoph Trappe: Hello, everyone. It’s Christoph Trappe, chief content officer here at Stamats. Thanks for joining us for another episode of the Stamats Insights Podcast.

Today, I’m joined again by Andrew Rohlf. He’s our digital analyst here. Andrew, thanks for joining us.

Andrew Rohlf: Yeah. Thanks for having me today.

Christoph: Today, we’re talking about high performing Facebook ads. What’s interesting about that topic, I would love to not talk about social media ads at all. But the organic era on social media is long gone, right, Andrew?

Andrew: Yeah. That’s right. The impressions and engagement that you see with organic have really gone downhill. As Facebook algorithms have changed, they are limiting the placement because they really want to have you boost posts and pay for the ads instead of using their platform for free.

Christoph: They want to make money. Who can blame them? Just like all of us marketers, certainly. We’re trying to make money and drive leads to the sales teams and be successful.

So, what we did is we looked at what makes a high performing Facebook ad. And Andrew looked at like a million impressions or something like that.

Andrew: Yeah. We used over 1 million impressions through 2019 so far with roughly 70 different ad groups, ad types, and that sort of thing.

Christoph: And what have we found? What performs better? Or is there anything that people can use in their daily ad creation and syndication?

Andrew: So, it was really interesting. One thing we kind of hypothesized was that the ad type may make a difference. So, whether you’re running a single image ad or a carousel or a video, maybe one of those will perform significantly better than the other.

Within our top 10, though, we saw four single image ads, three different carousel ads, and three video ads. So, pretty much a perfect split there between the different ad types. So, we didn’t see that it made much of a difference at all.

What we did come to find out as far as the main takeaways that we can dive into further here, the things that did make a difference were those bold, colorful images. Most of the time, what we liked to see was featuring the target audience in some way or someone that looks like they’re part of the target audience.

And then Facebook’s big no-no is including text in the ad. So, if you did not include text in the ads, those generally performed better than the other ones.

Christoph: And why is that? What’s the big deal about text?

Andrew: They’re just kind of sticklers with it. If there’s over 20 percent text on the image, they’ll limit or disapprove your ad completely so that you can’t even run it. It’s just one of those things where Facebook does it one way, Google does it another way.

Christoph: They all come up with their own rules. But this strategy here, this way to do an ad—of somebody in the target audience—that’s not a new thing. We’ve done that in marketing and advertising for decades, right?

Andrew: Right.

Christoph: If you’re trying to target mothers, you have a smiling mother. Or, you know, somebody that the target audience can relate to.

Andrew: Right. Yeah. It’s something that we’ve been doing for years, but when people use Facebook, it’s something they forget, honestly. And just a good thing to remember and remind yourself over and over when you’re doing these Facebook ads.

Christoph: And then what’s the next thing to note?

Andrew: The next thing to note would be a strong call-to-action, or a CTA, when you’re making these. So, really driving the point home that you want the customer to click through and find out more about your product or service on your website, not just looking at the ad.

So, the one example we have here is “Ask about our special offers.” So, that’s straight to the point. There’s a reason for the customer to click through to your website.

Christoph: And so, in the “Ask about our special offer,” would that go and open in a Facebook Messenger or would that go to the website typically?

Andrew: Generally, you would want that to go to a landing page on your website. Some people already have landing pages built specifically for their ads and their ad targets. But if you don’t, you can push them to either a shop or a landing page where there’s a form to fill out, that sort of thing.

Christoph: And of course, the advantage to sending you to the landing page is now you’re on their site. Now you can put them in your remarketing pool down the road. So, that’s one advantage to do that.

Andrew: Right. Yep. Another way to capture your audience and find out another way to target them.

Christoph: So, I have seen some campaigns where that call-to-action would actually open in a Facebook Messenger. And you can inquire there. Of course, the trick is if that is indeed the campaign you’re doing, make sure somebody pays attention to the Facebook Messenger messages.

Andrew: Right. Yeah. That’s definitely something to consider if you have a dedicated social media person or not, whether there’s somebody in charge to make sure you stay on the ball and don’t wait two or three or four days to respond to those. You really want to be on the ball and respond immediately.

Christoph: Not to go down the strong CTA rabbit hole too long here, but I think it is worth mentioning, I still see a lot of campaigns that don’t have a strong CTA, and then they say, “The ad didn’t perform.” And then we say, “Well, let’s take a look at the ad.” And they didn’t have a CTA, call-to-action, so people didn’t even know that they had to click.

Andrew: Right. Yeah. And we’ve actually had some clients, they’ve requested removing the call-to-action button on the Facebook ad, which we definitely don’t recommend doing that, since that’s another way—besides your text CTA—that’s another way that you can add a call-to-action. So, “Learn more,” “Book now,” “Shop here,” that sort of thing.

Christoph: So, without revealing who the client was, do you remember what the reasoning was, why they wanted it removed?

Andrew: I think it was more just to have a more streamlined look to the ad. But like I said, I wouldn’t recommend doing that.

Christoph: I suppose if it’s a brand campaign, there could be reasons why that might be okay. But if you want people to click, make sure you call out that they actually can click.

So, really quickly, in the top 10, you had four single image ads, three carousel ads, three video ads. So, if we can talk about what those definitions are. So, single image ad, that’s what the name suggests, right? One image.

Andrew: Right. Just one large image that you’ll see—these generally run in the newsfeed. So, 90 percent probably of the ads you see on Facebook are those single image ads where there’s just one image, it’s big, it’s bold, it takes up the main part of the newsfeed there.

Christoph: What’s interesting about that, too, is 90 percent of ads are single image ads. But the other two types perform just as well. That could be a true differentiator to do a carousel ad or a video ad.

Andrew: Yeah. I think the cool thing with carousel ads is you can add, generally we see 3-10 different images. So, you can really highlight different products or services, different points of your site that really differentiate yourself.

And then the cool thing is you can also change the landing pages for each of those images. So, if you have something that talks about one area of your site, you can link them directly to that page and so on and so forth.

Christoph: So, carousel ad, describe what that is.

Andrew: A carousel ad, you’ll see, like I said, 3-10 different images. They’ll be side by side. So, if you’re on mobile, you’ll use your finger to scroll through them. If you’re on a desktop, there’s an arrow that you can click to move between seeing—generally you’ll see there’s one in the middle, one image in the middle, and then half of another image on the left side, half of another image on the right side.

So, you get a little hint of what’s to come on the other pictures, but really, you have to click to see the full image.

Christoph: So, just like a carousel, you can scroll right to left and see other things.

Andrew: Right. Right.

Christoph: Great. And then a video ad, that’s just a video—a commercial.

Andrew: Yep. Yeah. These are generally 30 seconds to a minute-long videos. Again, with this one, you like to see those big, bold colors and the target audience in there as well, much like the regular images.

Christoph: And do we see people—so I jokingly said, “a commercial.” And it is. That’s what it is, really. But do people repurpose their TV commercials? Or do they create some special web version?

Andrew: With most of our clients, I don’t see them using the same commercial videos that you would on a TV. But you certainly could. They’re different because you’ll include the website, webpage, that sort of thing. But 90 percent of it is something that you could use. You could just change the last little bit.

Christoph: So, something to think about. If you already have a TV commercial, or any kind of video that’s short, 30 seconds, that’s promotional and tells a story about your company, your product, that could very easily be used here. And based on the numbers, it might be worth trying.

So, which ones were in the top 5? How many did you have in the top 5? Were they single image ads? Or what were they? Do we have that in front of us?

Andrew: In the top 5…

Christoph: We are loading the numbers live here. Okay. There it is.

Andrew: Top 5 we have four single image ads and one carousel. Kind of what’s also interesting is the top 4, they all came from the same client. But they weren’t all the same ad. So, what we found with those is they were running four different ads simultaneously. And then Facebook, with their algorithms and that sort of thing, they can really optimize when to display which type of ads. So, that really helped this client out as well.

So, trying different things, using A/B testing, multiple ad types, that’s really going to help you out in the long run as well.

Christoph: So, currently, we’re defining the highest performing ads as what?

Andrew: Highest performing will be our highest click-through rates. That’s really what we’re going for. Our goals as a company would be to deliver the highest number of clicks to the website for our clients.

Christoph: So, maybe we can do this live here. So, that’s important, especially for lead gen, because you want people to take some kind of action. But there is still a benefit in brand awareness. So, that means impressions.

So, I wonder what are the highest performing ads by impressions? I don’t know if we can sort that while we’re talking here. But long time in advertising, right? Brand awareness is important. So, that means you’re seen. It doesn’t mean I’m necessarily clicking on something.

So, let’s take a look here. What is the top 5 when it comes to impressions?

Andrew: Yeah. So, there is definitely something to be said about brand awareness, just getting your name out there, getting seen by the customers and that sort of thing as well. Not just clicks, but those impressions do make a difference down the line, too.

Christoph: So, what’s very interesting here, in the top 5, we have a clear winner. The carousel type ad, of course, we don’t have in front of us necessarily right now what the creative looks like. And we have to be honest, the creative matters.

Andrew: Definitely.

Christoph: If it doesn’t draw people in, you’re not going to get anybody looking at it. But here we have the top 4 are carousel, single image, single image, single image, single image, carousel, carousel. And so, there’s no videos in at least the top 30 here even. So, I don’t know when the first time is that we have a video show up. Let’s see if we can scroll down.

There’s one. No. 36. So, that’s a far cry from No. 1 or even the top 10. So, very interesting. So, test it, everything comes back to testing.

Andrew: Absolutely. Yeah. And another thing, if you’re running these ads for yourself, you always have to be mindful of how much these are costing, too. So, looking for something that has a low cost per click or a low CPM or cost per thousand impressions is always important, too. So, always something to keep in mind.

Christoph: Great. Well, hopefully, this was helpful to everyone listening to this episode of the Stamats Insights Podcast. Now you know what the highest performing Facebook ads are and the anatomy of a high-performing Facebook ad, I suppose.

Good creative, clear call-to-action, make sure you have someone from the target audience in there. And good luck with your advertising on Facebook, Twitter, and any other network that you want to do it on.

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to drop us a note, [email protected].

Thanks for listening today. I was joined by Andrew Rohlf, our digital analyst. I’m Christoph Trappe, chief content officer at Stamats. Until next time.

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