Improvements Facebook Has Made On Its Way To 2 Million Active Advertisers

Chris CrumAdvertising

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Facebook announced that it has reached over two million active advertisers, up from 1.5 million about half a year ago and 1 million a year-and-a-half ago.

"Roughly 35% of US small businesses don’t have a web presence at all, but more than 30 million businesses around the world actively use Facebook Pages because they’re free, easy to use, and they work well on mobile," a Facebook spokesperson tells WebProNews. "Facebook’s tools are easier than ever to use. Of newly acquired advertisers in Q4 2014, 80% used our easiest ad tools, particularly promoted posts."

"The consumer shift to mobile is making more business owners want to use Facebook’s mobile tools to reach customers and manage their businesses," the spokesperson says. "For instance, over 15M SMBs use our Pages Manager app to mange their Pages on mobile. We’ve proven to businesses that our ads work: we want to make sure that every dollar they spend with us improves their bottom line. Tools like conversion tracking have accelerated better measurement for SMBs."

Mark Zuckerberg weighed in on Facebook's new milestone:

Facebook announced a new Ads Manager app, which it says will help businesses manage their ad campaigns on the go through their mobile devices. This follows last summer's launch of the Ads Manager mobile site, which is already in use by over 800,000 advertisers per month.

"Whether you want to monitor current ads or create new ones, ads manager app gives marketers more power to manage ads from anywhere," Facebook says. "Using the app, marketers can: Track ad performance, Edit existing ads, Edit ad budgets and schedules, Receive push notifications, Create ads."

Here's what the app looks like:

Over the past year or so (as I'm sure you're well aware), the organic reach of Page posts has drastically declined for many of those 30 million businesses. It's getting hard to avoid paying to play in the News Feed. During that time, however, Facebook has been making a lot of improvements to its advertising offerings.

Last summer, Facebook enabled game ads to allow for virtual goods purchases from the News Feed:

It gave mobile app ads device-level targeting:

And cross-device reporting for ads in general:

It launched the App Ads helper tool, and started letting you show ads to the same people more often.

Then, Facebook launched network connection targeting and new event ad options.

In October, Facebook launched the Audience Network, its mobile ad network, which lets mobile apps monetize through Facebook's active advertisers.

At the same time, it launched Local Awareness Ads, which let businesses find new customers by showing ads to groups of people who are near that business' neighborhood.

Later that month, they updated the ad campaign structure:

In November, there were reports that big Facebook spenders got special access to a an ad tool called Grapevine, which gives them access to more data and insights.

The following month, Facebook launched mobile app ad improvements for buying, creative, and targeting. Marketers can now buy mobile app ads with guaranteed reach and frequency, and the ads in the News Feed support video creative. Amazon Fire tablets also became available for targeting.

So far this year, in addition to the new Ads Manager app, Facebook has given advertisers conversion left measurement, visible relevance scores, and product ads.

On conversion lift measurement, a Facebook spokesperson said, "The industry is lagging behind; online really started with search and clicks – cut to now where display, social make up online, too, and yet measurement hasn’t caught up – marketers still often use clicks to measure all of their online media. But, clicks don’t correlate to in-store sales. Datalogix studies have shown that 90% of people who saw a Facebook ad and purchased in-store never clicked on an ad at all. By using lift measurement, an advertiser can determine the incremental business/sales that the ad impressions caused and accordingly, can make sound marketing decisions based on these results.”

“Starting now, Facebook advertisers around the world will be able to apply this measurement method to both online sales (using our conversion and Custom Audience pixels) and offline sales (using Custom Audiences and CRM data from advertisers),” they added. “The premise of a lift measurement is simple: when creating a Facebook campaign, a test group (people that see ads) and a control group (people that don’t) are established. When the campaign has ended, advertisers can determine what sales were driven by what ads and see the additional lift that occurred among the test group. This is a similar methodology that many other industries use – from medicine to direct mail marketing – to determine causation.”

The company also said it’s encouraging the broader advertising industry to adopt lift as the standard for measurement, and that it believes this to be the best method for proving the effectiveness of ads regardless of whether or not they run on Facebook.

In a recent WebProNews interview, Facebook marketing expert Mari Smith said conversion lift measurement was "great news for small businesses."

“In addition, we’ll soon see the rollout of Facebook’s ‘Atlas’ advertising product that allows retargeting and tracking via mobile devices,” she added. “Retargeting typically works via cookies; however, cookies don’t work on mobile. The way Atlas works, is advertisers can then place ads to remarket to visitors whether they view on desktop, mobile or tablet. In other words, reaching the exact audience no matter what device they’re on.”

Regarding relevance scores, this is something that Facebook has already used to deliver ads to users, but until recently advertisers didn't have access to them. They can now be viewed in any of Facebook’s ad reporting tools as well as those developed by its API partners.

According to Facebook, relevance score can lower the cost of reaching people, help advertisers test creative options before running a campaign, and help optimize campaigns that are already in progress.

“Put simply, the higher an ad’s relevance score is, the less it will cost to be delivered. This is because our ad delivery system is designed to show the right content to the right people, and a high relevance score is seen by the system as a positive signal,” the company said in a blog post. “Of course, relevance isn’t the only factor our ad delivery system considers. Bid matters too. For instance, if two ads are aimed at the same audience, there’s no guarantee that the ad with an excellent relevance score and low bid will beat the ad with a good relevance score and high bid. But, overall, having strong relevance scores will help advertisers see more efficient delivery through our system.”

The company notes that relevance score shouldn’t be considered the primary indicator of an ad’s performance.

“As has long been the case on Facebook, the most important factor for success is bidding based on the business goal you hope to meet with an ad,” it said. “Say, for instance, you own a pizza shop and want to run a campaign that drives people to order through your website. Achieving the desired outcome — in this case, driving sales online — is ultimately more important than your relevance score. If you have an average score but your ad is working, you may not want to change anything. Or you may consider tweaking the ad to see how you can get lower cost of delivery by improving the relevance score. Or you might monitor your relevance score, along with the sales you’re driving, to learn when it’s time to update your campaign.”

Facebook marketing budgets obviously vary greatly among small businesses. Smith told us, "I would recommend that low budget[s] be allocated to what are called ‘dark posts.’ That is, ads in the News Feed that look like a Page wall post, but don’t actually appear on the Page. With very granular targeting to reach the exact target market, small businesses can do exceptionally well using Facebook. In addition, making use of custom audiences is a must. This is where a business can upload its own email database, or segments thereof, and place ads in the News Feed to that target group. Plus, using website custom audiences helps a business to retarget its website visitors with Facebook ads.”

A study last summer from Adaptly, Facebook, and Refinery29 found that sequencing ads that take individual consumers “down the marketing funnel” gets better results than a simple sustained call-to-action message delivered over the same period of time.

In their research, the personalized, sequenced ads increased overall view-throughs by 87% and conversions by 56%. More on that here.

The Ads Manager app is now available on iOS in the U.S., and will roll out globally in the next few weeks. Facebook is actively working on its Android counterpart, and says that will be out later this year.

Facebook's ad revenue was $3.59 billion in Q4, an increase of 53% from Q4 2013. Mobile ad revenue represented about 69% of ad revenue.

Images via Facebook

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.