The State of Facebook Advertising

Media buying on Facebook is becoming more and more of a commodity. I’ve been preaching this all year, and it couldn’t be truer today.

With artificial intelligence taking over, there are fewer levers to tug and buttons to push in Ads Manager. That leaves only a few variables that really matter to your media buying strategy:

  1. Copy.
  2. Content.
  3. Offer. (i.e. Brand)

The majority of agencies and eComm owners are distracted by their efforts to hire the next great media buyer, perfect their bid and CBO strategies, recycle old creative they’re still romantic about, or find a “winning product.” While some of these are necessary, at the end of the day, they’re all just tactics. They just don’t hold the same weight as they used to, and they’re lacking the strategic planning to back up those actions.

What you really need is a strong brand backed by a solid content strategy. Otherwise, you’re going to struggle.

Both Facebook and consumers got a hell of a lot smarter this past year. There is no faking it. That’s why 2020 is the year for legitimate brands to win big and fakers to get left behind.

Let’s make this practical though. So far, I haven’t given you any action items, but now I’m going to focus in on that content variable. After all, that’s what we know best, having produced over 25,000+ pieces of content this year across all of our clients’ channels.

A winning content strategy is informed by constant experimentation and analysis. In the last year, we’ve zeroed in on what works for Facebook ads in the modern day. And we’ve adapted to its changing demands to produce winning results:

VIDEO FORMAT: 4:5 (1080×1350)

This is the format that works. Why? Two words: Mobile optimization. Across all of our clients, nearly 80% of all ads were viewed on mobile. 4:5 is 25% taller than 1:1 (square), meaning more screen real estate — equaling higher CTRs — just from optimizing to this format. In fact, we saw 300% higher ROAS running 4:5 mobile compared to desktop. Again, optimizing all of your content to mobile is such a key action item that I can’t stress this enough. I guarantee a lot of you are running 16:9 right now and losing money doing so.

VIDEO LENGTH: Less than 30 seconds.

In Q1 and Q2, we were producing and preaching 30–45 second videos. Through the second half of the year, we saw a huge boost in performance by focusing on shorter videos within the 20 second range with cheaper CPMs and higher CTRs almost across the board.

STYLE: Clean and crisp.

We worked hard to find a good blend between direct response and a level of quality/brand that you don’t find in a lot of direct response videos. Speak to pain points, but have your brand voice in it. We’ve personally been producing a lot more of these, and we’re seeing strong, consistent CTRs at TOF. Bright colors and quick cuts help.

STATIC FORMAT: 1:1

I’m not sure if it’s just us, or if you’ve also noticed that Facebook wants to crop most 4:5 static to square. In Q3 I started noticing a lot of brands running Dynamic Creative unknowingly having their content cropped. We ran 1:1 static all through Q4, and it rocked.

STATIC STYLE: Simple. Less is more.

Clean and bright backgrounds with good contrast absolutely killed it, arguably better than video at TOF (depending on your funnel structure). Muted pink and bright blue backgrounds scored for us this year as well.

MORE CONTENT: More more more.

No one is producing enough content for the algorithm. Everyone should be posting 2–4 times per day on organic, then using organic content to fuel paid. Basically, you take your highest engaged content from organic and bring it over to the paid side, regardless of what bias you have against that content. If it works on organic, it’ll work on paid.

But that’s not all. A high volume of content yields a few more significant benefits:

1: Break into new audiences within your followers.

You might see your engagement rate fall at first, but eventually, it starts to snowball, and your engagement rate will rise as you’ll start to reach more of your audience.

2: High frequency posting is a part of Facebook’s “best practices,” that help them identify high-quality brands that care about user experience.

You’ll actually see CPMs drop on the paid side after a sustained period of posting a volume on the organic side.

3: DATA!

This is a huge one for me. More posts mean more data. What copy works, what content works, more feedback on products/your brand, etc…

4: Customer engagement.

More posts mean more engagements. Take the time to respond to every comment, build brand equity, and utilize social media as intended. Sounds lame, but this can have huge impact on a brand, and for me it’s step 1 to elevating your brand.

So, What Does All This Mean?

I’m excited to see the state of digital moving in the direction that it is. Advertising is getting back to the good stuff, and you need a deep understanding of psychology and strategy to really excel.

More creativity, less direct response.

More brand, more value, fewer gimmicks.

Here’s to a successful 2020, and here’s to more content!

Michaels Wilder is a full-service digital marketing agency. We’ve been in business for over 15 years, and we’ve witnessed firsthand as the industry changed and evolved through the last three decades. We’ve seen businesses that failed to plan and adapt get left behind. We’ve seen others embrace new trends and technologies and reap the benefits.

Let us help you position your business for the future.

Mike Speer Administrator
Chief Marketing Officer Michaels WIlder

Opinions are my own and not the views of my employer.

Chief Marketing Officer at Michaels Wilder and an entrepreneur since before the average person knew what that even meant, Mike has helped countless businesses build effective sales and marketing strategies. His philosophy is, “If you’re not thinking 10 years ahead, you’re already behind.” Mike’s content has appeared in Forbes Magazine, Inc. and Apple News. He has also been featured numerous times as a “Top 10 Writer” worldwide on the Q&A content site, Quora.

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Mike Speer Administrator
Chief Marketing Officer Michaels WIlder

Opinions are my own and not the views of my employer.

Chief Marketing Officer at Michaels Wilder and an entrepreneur since before the average person knew what that even meant, Mike has helped countless businesses build effective sales and marketing strategies. His philosophy is, “If you’re not thinking 10 years ahead, you’re already behind.” Mike’s content has appeared in Forbes Magazine, Inc. and Apple News. He has also been featured numerous times as a “Top 10 Writer” worldwide on the Q&A content site, Quora.

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