4 Things eCommerce Advertisers Need to Commit to for Higher Performing Facebook Ads

By Tinuiti Team

“How many of you are satisfied with your current performance from Facebook ads?”

Not a single hand rises.

I cringe a bit, even though these folks aren’t our clients (phew).

A few dozen people had gathered in a meeting room at eTail West, prepared to hear Frank Lee, head of eCommerce Global Marketing Solutions at Facebook, talk about competition in the News Feed and how to stay on top of Facebook’s frequent changes.

Jesse Eisenberg, our VP of Client Services and moderator of the session, wasted no time getting to the point.

The advertisers in the room weren’t getting what they needed from Facebook, and they were ready to hear Facebook’s head of eCommerce wax poetic on how they could shift their strategy to get more value from their customer acquisition efforts.

Here were the most important takeaways from this luncheon:

Leveraging Engagement Signals and Interpreting Signal Strength

The News Feed has never been more competitive, and more companies are entering the game and fighting to get in front of the same audiences you are.

The companies that are doing the best right now are adapting by using Facebook’s machine learning potential and algorithms more effectively than their advertising peers.

Consider the signals that your customers put out in terms of how they interact with your brand. The purchases they make are one signal, sure, but so is the time they spend on your site, the pages they visit, the pages they visit multiple times before not converting,etc.

Sophisticated advertisers are taking this engagement data and marrying it with the capabilities Facebook and its Marketing Partners have developed to serve more effective advertising.

One of our clients does this: When prospecting a pool of users who have visited a certain category of products on their website, they exclude audiences who’ve also visited the customer login portal and employment pages so they don’t waste impressions serving advertising to job seekers and existing customers. Then, they let the algorithm do the rest.

All of these are signals to gauge how engaged a person might be and utilize this to move them closer to conversion.

With greater signal fidelity comes greater outcomes.

According to Lee, “The more prescriptive the information you give us, the better your advertising will get.”

Flexible Measurement

Lately, younger, scrappier companies are taking their advertising data (whether it be from Facebook, Google or otherwise) as truth and optimizing against that data effectively.

They don’t debate last click attribution or dwell on what areas of multitouch are working best for them. They take the data they have direct from the source and turn up the gas on what’s working.

Older companies, on the other hand, are having a hard time shifting. When performance marketers rely on legacy systems of interpreting data, you’re going to run into issues. If you’re reporting YoY in the same way as 5 years ago, you’re delivering a skewed set of data that won’t help you in your argument for larger paid media budgets.

Flexible measurement is increasingly important to show value from and give credit to paid media. If last click is your go-to attribution model, you’re always going to be up against organic, direct, email and affiliate traffic sources.

I get that these systems are more deeply rooted and tough to switch to more flexible, agile methods of measuring success, but to keep budgets from being cut and prove that Facebook is giving you the return you know it’s influencing, you need to embrace flexible measurement approaches and be able to report differently.

Flexible measurement approaches are creating the big wins for innovative and agile brands.

Nimble Creative

Creative fatigue is real, and if you’re building creative for Facebook or Instagram the same way you do YouTube or television, you’re getting in your own way. Creative on these platforms do not require the same production costs and timelines as those larger investment pieces of content.

To stay ahead of the game in 2018, you need to create a more nimble repository of creative assets that can be quickly launched; this is critical to scaling your business and ad spend on Facebook.

No really.

Lee says, “If you have to pick quality or volume, choose volume.”

Lee cited a client whose team develops 1,000 videos per week. Not because they employ a 300 person creative team (they don’t), but because they consider iterations of the same piece as new pieces of content.

Honest Company embraces nimble creative with Facebook Live videos which require little to no planning and engage audiences with authentic moments representing the brand. Think Jessica Alba walking through Target talking about her favorite baby products.

These are not paid advertising efforts, but you can use them for ad campaigns after the fact: 1. They create a qualified pool of audiences that you can later include in retargeting. 2. You can repurpose the Facebook Live video for advertising content.

Sure, it certainly helps that they’ve got Jessica Alba as the spokesperson. Regardless, this is worth testing with your brand to help build that creative library.

For a medium like video, and specifically in the case of Facebook Live or Instagram stories, it’s important to understand the value of documenting versus creating. Deep breath – imperfect is okay, and even welcomed by customers.

But when you do create with a purpose, create to convert.

You’re looking to capture people’s attention and clicks at the right moment on the right device with the right creative. Unless you have many iterations to test, you won’t be able to optimize for incrementality.

It’s also worth noting that, according to Lee, “Video is nearly all that matters on our platform right now.” If you’re not spending 30-50% (we’d wager even more) on video, fix it. Mobile video specifically delivers the highest ROI of any digital channel.

Sexy Ad Type of The Week: Instagram Stories Ads

First mover advantage is a thing on Facebook; always has been. Be the first to test new ad formats and take advantage of that 3-6 month period before competition and costs start increasing.

Right now that ad format is Instagram Stories Ads.

There are growth opportunities here. There’s inventory to get in front of your customer and very few are doing it well.

A brilliant test: Test new formats, creative directions, messaging organically on Instagram Stories to see what resonates without a lot of commitment, and then use the winning concepts in your paid advertising.


You cannot look at social the way you approach Display Advertising. Think of it like Paid Search – requires daily optimizations where you are always testing and looking for incremental wins that you can continue to optimize against.

I’ll leave you with this, a somewhat silly and definitely ugly slide I developed a few years ago before we were acquired by Elite. 90% of it still holds true:

facebook ad agency image

There’s a lot to be done.

To truly be satisfied with your Facebook advertising, you need an active, engaged team that’s willing to pull the many levers, analyze outcomes, test, fail, measure the most important KPIs, and test some more.

To learn more about scaling your Facebook advertising efforts, be sure to check out our ebook.

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