013. - 8. Ad Set Variables
Part II-E: The Business (continued)
To this point, we have discussed how Facebook gathers information from users, jumbles that data through its algorithm and provides a platform for businesses to pick and choose which data sets they would like to advertise to. We also broke down the 3 main objective types that Facebook offers these businesses to execute these advertising & marketing plans...and what to expect for results. Think of Facebook as this giant machine that has an input on one end and several outputs on the other. All user input and data enter a funnel on the front...goes through the machine...and sorted out on the back end. This post, focused on step 2 of setting up a Facebook campaign, describes what happens inside that machine to produce the output products that the businesses pay to target. Facebook calls this inner-working system the 'Ad Set'.
If you've browsed around this website, you may notice an interesting theme of gears, cogs, and sprockets. This business is rooted in an operational mindset where each piece of a business interacts and directly affects other pieces. It is our professional opinion that the Operations Role is the most important position for a company. Many may disagree...but I challenge them to prove me wrong. The role of operations may have different scopes of work depending on the business or industry. But the constant theme is that it is their job to keep the engines working...keep the schedule in tact...make sure that all other divisions are working together to meet deadlines, reduce costs, and increase efficiency. The operations role is like the engine of a sports car. It may look very pretty on the outside...similar to a well executed marketing plan, branding program, and business image...but without the engine, the car doesn't move. (If you're following my analogy, the business cannot produce anything either). So to pull this all together, what defines the Ops role in an algorithm? What are the gears turning inside of that Facebook machine to pop out the data sets worthy of a business to buy?
The first step of a Facebook Marketing Campaign always starts with the campaign type. Once the business determines which output serves the necessary purpose of that effort, they move on to selecting the sorting variables within the ad set. Some campaign types offer different variables...for example...conversion objectives require that you select which type of conversion you want to achieve (purchase, add to cart, view products, etc). Rather than go through the differences, this post will focus on the commonalities that each objective type has. Ad Sets are generally broken into four categories: Budget & Schedule, Audience, Placements, Optimization & Delivery. This post will focus on the first two.
BUDGET & SCHEDULING:
Just like all other aspects of your business, budgeting takes planning. You need to plan on a budget, schedule, and exit strategies if the campaigns are failing. Without planning, you are wandering a maze blindfolded in the dark. Your budget should stretch in 3-month increments in order to start seeing accurate results. There should also be a plan to run multiple campaign types, target different audiences, and run different ad creatives. So assuming you have this planned out, you are ready to input a budget and schedule for your ad set. The first item you need to determine is whether you want to spend on a 'daily budget' or 'lifetime budget'. The answer to this depends on how much time you want to spend on this platform on a day-to-day basis. To start, a daily budget tends to produce more accurate results on how the budget is performing with the other variables in the ad set. Over time, however, this budget can shift to a 'lifetime' option which spreads out a set budget over a period of time. For lifetime selections, we do not recommend setting budgets out farther than 1-2 weeks. Digital landscapes are constantly changing, and you don't want to confine your campaigns on long drawn out schedules. The next item is the dollar value either daily or lifetime. This is usually the #1 question asked by businesses looking to invest in digital marketing...how much should I spend? I wish there were an easy answer...but the fact is, there really isn't. The algorithm will work with the budget you spend. Throw $10 at it...you'll get $10 value. Throw $1M...and you'll get the results you want...just ask the Trump or Obama campaigns. When determining your budget, always remember this rule of Facebook marketing...if you find a formula that works...stick to it and increase that budget. You should always be willing to spend $1 if it nets you $2. The final item in this section is scheduling. Set the date you wish the campaign to start...end...and timeslots you want the ads to run. We won't go too much into explaining how a calendar works...you're on your own for that one.
This is the most important step of all Facebook Marketing. This is where you narrow your audiences from the billions and billions of Facebook users down the thousands that you wish to target. Perfecting this step takes time, patience, and budgets...but when you find the perfect formula, your campaigns can run very successful! A target audience is built using several variables...location, age, gender, demographics, interests, behaviors, languages, and connections. Each input of these variables adjusts Facebook's prediction on Estimated Daily Results. This is a meter that can be found on the right side of the ad set page. While it is important to stay on the 'broad side' of the green area, don't focus too much on the numbers that Facebook throws out...the analytics will show truer results later on. Location, age and gender are self-explanatory. Depending on your business, it is easy to determine these characteristics. The real value of a target audience comes from the demographics, interests, and behaviors. This is where all of the user input is segmented and sorted for businesses to select from. It is impossible to run through all of the possible variables that Facebook offers. I suggest starting with one item and running through a the series of suggestions Facebook provides. I'll use an example to show how these variables work. I am from New York, and a proud New York sports fan. During football season several years ago, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and came across an ad that asked me who I thought would win that week's game between New York & Philadelphia. By default, Philadelphia was was selected. Without even realizing what I had done, I clicked on the ad in hopes of changing the predicted outcome to NY...thus engaging with the ad and bringing me to destination off-site. I realized that there was probably the very same ad targeting fans of Philadelphia with NY pre-selected. The campaign was very simple...yet very effective. The business (which sold insurance I believe), was able to tap into my interest as a NY sports fan and leverage my need to engage on a post that I disagreed with. Had that same ad been set to NY by default, there is a zero chance I would have engaged with it. It sounds very stupid...but that is how you need to think when setting the parameters for your ad sets. Always put yourself in the seat of the user and predict their behavior using the tools that Facebook offers.
On the next post we will expand our discussion on target audiences, how to save them, how to replicate them, and finish up with the remaining two Ad Set categories. We're still far from over on the business side of Facebook...so stay tuned in.