Social Method is a boutique media buying and creative agency that believes social advertising can be done profitably, and consistently, at scale. They enjoy collaborating and producing innovative ad content as much as they enjoy diving into the data to analyze performance. Since they began in 2015, they have profitably managed hundreds of millions of dollars in Facebook ad spend across 25+ clients.
BounceX: What are your thoughts on the state of Facebook & Instagram advertising as it exists today?
Rob Jewell: Facebook and Instagram have never been more crowded with advertisers. Anyone with a Shopify store and an Instagram account can run campaigns that look and feel just as legitimate as those of a much larger brand. And a lot of these emerging, scrappy brands are all going for that same target: millennials, highly educated, city-dwelling, etc. It’s very competitive.
At the same time, the opportunity has also never been greater. These are still the largest digital platforms available to reach your highest-intent audiences, with the highest potential for creative impressions anywhere.
But it’s up to you to leverage that opportunity. Are you doing the same thing every other advertiser is doing? A blended average of every “best practice” your target has seen a thousand times before? Or are you pushing beyond what every imitator is doing and testing new and different strategies, taking risks, trying things that might surprise you? This is why, outside of the basic campaign setup, creative is the single biggest factor that impacts whether or not your ads succeed.
The performance and scale are absolutely still out there for the taking, but your brand needs to earn the right to it. You just cannot auto-optimize your way into breakout success.
BounceX: What’s your formula for successful campaigns on Facebook & Instagram for performance-focused advertisers?
Rob Jewell: We often hear things like, “Is something going on with Facebook today?” or “Is this a problem with us or with Facebook?” and similar. Anyone who is running Facebook ads at any kind of scale can relate to this feeling.
For us, diagnosing Facebook performance comes down to a few dimensions:
Dimension: Have your ads’ engagement rates or quality scores fallen, increasing cost-per-click?
Solution: This could be due to either creative fatigue or fatigue of a certain ad tactic within your competitive set. This is the most common reason for declining ad performance. Remember the old “punch the monkey” banner ads from the late 90s? They drove millions, billions of clicks at the time. Tactics emerge, scale, become ubiquitous and then lose efficacy.
Dimension: Did something change on your website, in your marketing emails or on your other channels, impacting conversion rate?
Solution: Too often people consider Facebook & Instagram campaigns as their own simulations within a vacuum. We forget that the people being served these impressions are real live humans, subject to psychology and phenomena like “not being ready to buy yet,” “needing more information,” etc. Therefore, it’s critical that your website, emails and other marketing materials be continuously optimized for conversion as well.
Dimension: Did something change in your campaign structure?
Solution: Check audience exclusions, separating prospecting from retargeting, timeframe windows on custom audiences, etc. This is the single place where you’re most likely to have some frustrating little error waiting to be uncovered, so it’s worth reviewing carefully.
Dimension: Is something happening with seasonality or the external environment?
Solution: Holiday weekends, nice weather, big news days, sporting events, election years—external factors can impact your campaign performance at hourly, daily, weekly and monthly levels. It’s very difficult to counteract an external influence via Facebook ads without risking being overly reactionary. Focus instead on leaning into your business’ periods of seasonal strength.
BounceX: Facebook & Instagram are arguably reaching a saturation point when it comes to advertising. Where do we go from here?
Ads in the newsfeed and Lookalike Audiences launched in fall 2013. Video ads on Facebook saw global release the following year. Instagram ads became widely available for advertisers in late 2015, less than four years ago.
It can sometimes feel like a lifetime, but these platforms—and especially the elements of them that have become critical to ad performance—are still nascent and evolving every day. And so are the advertiser opportunities that come with them.
Where to next? Look at recent months. Instagram stories, the product-ification of sponsored influencer content, in-app purchases, Facebook groups, WhatsApp ads, even VR experiences—we’ve barely scratched the surface on the experiences that still available for advertisers to tap into across these platforms. And those are all just on the “now-to-immediate horizon.”
Wherever people are engaged and spending time, there will be opportunities for advertisers. But there are clear first-mover advantages here, which is why it’s critical to build a marketing stack that supports your brand’s continuous growth, testing, learning, scaling and improvement across these channels.
To learn more about Social Method, email email@example.com
Photo by Kate Torline