Anyone in this industry knows that Facebook is a powerful advertising platform (I mean, come on, we even created a service line around it). From audience reach to targeting options, businesses stand to benefit quite a bit with the right approach. So much so that by Q2 of this year, the social media giant reported a total of 3 million companies actively advertising on Facebook.
Its growth has been rapid and unprecedented; but through continuous development, the company has taken it in stride. They’ve been methodical in calculating how and where ads should be displayed without compromising the user experience.
The importance of that last bit – without compromising the user experience – cannot be overstated. After all, the entire concept of Facebook is predicated on the idea that people will use it. If they don’t, the platform is likely to become impractical and obsolete.
From an advertising perspective, you have to at some point wonder, “how many ads can you fill the News Feed with before it starts to become a detriment to that experience?”. Ad load in the News Feed has seen continuous growth over the years; but it has to max out somewhere, right?
The company shed light on the topic in a quarterly earnings call, and with the informal introduction of Facebook Group ads, it appears to be something they’re working on to open up additional revenue streams.
Wait. You can advertise in Facebook Groups now?
The ability to advertise in groups has been a long-awaited feature for many advertisers. And understandably so. Facebook Groups represent a massive body of users on the platform.
The groups feature has gradually become one of Facebook’s most valuable attributes over the years. Initially beginning as a simple way to express interest in any given topic, groups have developed into set of mini-ecosystems capable of much, much more.
From families, professional networking and religious groups, to politics, sports and even buy-and-sell types of classifieds, groups can be created for just about anything imaginable. The real value comes from the activity within these groups.
They’re more than just something users can hit with the “Like” button. They’re immersive, engaging, and a space for discussion and participation. They aren’t just groups, they’re communities.
Looking through the lens of an advertiser, those communities bear a level of potential that would make Facebook Group ads invaluable.
From idea to (an almost) reality
As previously mentioned, Facebook Group ads have been a long-awaited feature for quite some time now. And for the time being, we’re going to have to keep waiting.
However, it appears that the possibility of this concept actually coming to fruition is nearing.
In a statement given to TechCrunch, Facebook reported that Facebook Group ads were currently being tested in Australia, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand. They went on to say:
“We have started to test delivering ads to people in Facebook Groups, and will be evaluating the response before determining how we will move forward. The ads will look the same as News Feed ads. They’ll be targeted by Group topic as well as the standard identity-based targeting.”
The company refrained from delving any deeper into its plans for Facebook Group ads, but we can assume they’ll release a statement once trial testing has been completed.
If they determine advertising in groups to be a viable option, it will be interesting to see how they approach everything from targeting to implementation moving forward.
Until then, we can only speculate.
The value of Facebook Group ads
There are hundreds of millions of groups on Facebook, and the number of groups, as well as the number of users within those groups, continues to grow everyday.
The biggest challenge for Facebook, and perhaps one of the biggest question marks for advertisers, is figuring out how to effectively segment these communities in a way that draw the most value for Facebook Group ads.
From internet memes to organized protests, the range and diversity of these categories is immense, and quite frankly, difficult to track. But if Facebook can formulate a way to properly index these groups for targeting purposes, it could open the door to a host of new, more engaged audiences.
Targeting users based on groups may prove in being much more effective than than say, targeting an individual based on a certain page they may have “Liked”.
Imagine you’re a telescope retailer advertising on Facebook. You decide you want to include people that have Liked pages relating to astronomy as an additional layer to your targeting criteria.
While the approach makes sense, as there are likely to be users within those buckets that your products may appeal to, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always going to be the strongest indicator of interest when targeting.
Now consider being able to fixate on users that are actively participating in groups centered around amateur stargazing and astronomy. There’s a good chance those users are going to be more engaged in the hobby, and may be more inclined to take action when presented with an ad.
Of course, how targeting within Facebook Group ads will work is going to be entirely dependent on how, and if, they decide to fully implement the option. But we can imagine it would lead to effective strategies.
What to expect
Nii Ahene, Co-founder and COO of CPC Strategy, sat down to discuss the possibility of Facebook Group ads and what to expect from them if fully incorporated into the advertising platform.
Q: What are your initial thoughts on advertisers looking to use Facebook Group ads in the future?
A: Historically, Facebook has done a pretty good job at rewarding advertisers with relevant content, and penalizing those that don’t. Since groups, for the longest time, have been vestiges of an ad-free experience, you can imagine Facebook would really, really focus on making sure those ads are incredibly relevant. Ads are going to need to have high click-through-rates and be highly relevant to the audiences they’re going after.
Q: To you, what’s the biggest draw from the potentiality of Facebook Group ads?
A: A lot of it is really going to depend on how fine-tuned the targeting mechanisms are. But if Facebook doesn’t allow us to target ads in groups, I’m okay with that. What I would be more interested in seeing is the ability to target users of a group, outside of that group. If you’re a member of a specific group, I’d like to be able to target those users in the News Feed with ads. To me, that just seems a lot more powerful. Groups are very, very tight knit. Instead of disrupting people’s activities in groups, it makes more sense to me to be able to target the users of specific groups, rather than the groups themselves.
Q: With so many categories and topics in groups, how do you think Facebook will approach targeting options?
A: I don’t think they’re going to allow the precise targeting of groups that may raise privacy concerns. Especially if it’s a group of 500 to 1000 people, it would be challenging for Facebook to allow an advertiser to target there. I’d imagine they’re going to go through a taxonomy or ontology project, where they figure out what the similarities are, and create a broad-match type function. Where you can choose something like basketball, and it will collect every single group related to basketball. They’ve already done this with Likes. So if you look at this in the same way, you’re not targeting a specific a specific Like. You’re targeting people who Like Michael Jordan and pages that are related. I can see the same thing happening with groups.
Q: Any final takeaways you have on Facebook Group ads?
A: I like Facebook’s continuous march toward helping advertisers get the most out of the platform. This is just another lever to take advantage of, if they decide to implement it. It’s another piece of real estate that Facebook is giving to advertisers. And ideally, it’s not just real estate, it would be giving us the ability to target those same users off of groups and off of the platform through the Audience Network.
For more information on Facebook Group ads, please contact [email protected]