One of our clients (hotel chain) asked if they should run untargeted ads (entire United States) to let the Facebook algo figure things out or run against smaller audiences first.
Here’s what I advised:
Yes, you want to let Facebook do the “heavy lifting” for you. If the objective is conversion, you want to give the algo a general push in the direction by using custom audiences and high quality targets before unleashing large lookalikes or running untargeted.
We’ve seen some accounts go straight to untargeted (all US or multiple countries) with success, but the CPA is often higher during the learning curve as Facebook is figuring out who is buying (50 conversion per ad set per week).
We also like to warm up audiences and then remarket to them with conversion ads, instead of running cold audiences straight to conversion– as the penalty of negative feedback and low engagement is getting higher.
The harder the algorithm is penalizing losers, the harder it’s rewarding winners at the same time.
So increasingly, you’ll see two camps emerge…
1) People who see ads costs go, complain, and get forced out of the game.
2) People who see massive engagement that leads to multi-touch, profitable conversions across multiple channels.
Short-form video is the key ingredient, so get super cheap mid-funnel engagement. I still see clients in many verticals (not just media, sports, and entertainment) get $2 CPMs on boosted posts, while some folks who run conversion ads on cold traffic are at $60+ per thousand impressions.
Next, we need analytics to trace those touches all the way through to the conversions that then occur via Google, email, in-store, word of mouth, and so forth.
99% of Facebook advertisers don’t know that all reporting is last click– meaning that assists get zero credit.
You have to choose attribution models within Google Analytics and Facebook to see how channels are working together.
Even the more sophisticated buyers think that choosing between 1/7/28 day view/click is attribution– not realizing that this is merely choosing the data input, which is NOT the attribution method (how to award conversion credit).
So even with killer video, without smart attribution (analytics), they will declare failure on the very ads that are actually driving sales, while putting more burden on the last touch ads.
The effect is a downward spiral that results in more pressure on cold audiences to convert– causing positive/negative engagement to go out of whack, CPMs to shoot up, and then complaints.
These same people like to say that “boosting doesn’t work”– because their measurement is wrong and they’re trying to instantly convert on every touch.
Some have realized that when you run reports a couple weeks after a campaign, that attributed conversions go up or that by uploading offline conversions, they were missing out on tracking conversions that got hidden by the Apple cookie issue.
In 2020, you’ll have to decide which of the two above camps you want to be in.