Important Facebook Updates for eCommerce Brands

Important Facebook Updates for eCommerce Brands

July 31, 2019

The Facebook Ad Network continues to be one of the best ways for direct-to-consumer and eCommerce brands to generate traffic and grow their business. The cross-platform network, including Facebook desktop and mobile, Instagram, Messenger, and (beginning in 2020) Whatsapp, provides cost-effective avenues for small and medium-sized businesses to find new, relevant audiences, sending them the right messages at the right time to drive conversions.

While Facebook is making headlines for its new proprietary cryptocurrency
and better-than-expected Q2 earnings, they have also made some important changes and updates to their ad network that we think eCommerce companies need to know about.

All of them are good news, providing more insights and better targeting options for campaigns. Let’s take a look.

New Placement in Instagram Explore & Facebook Search

In recent weeks, the Facebook Ad Network has begun to offer two new ad placements.

The first is Instagram Explore, found in the little magnifying glass just to the right of the “Home” icon. Of the one billion users using Instagram, about half of them regularly engage the Explore feature to discover content outside of those they follow. Explore is primed to help 500 million users find businesses and products they’ll love. Facebook made the announcement in June and has begun to roll out the option for accounts.

The second new placement is inside Facebook’s Search results, both in the general news feed and in Marketplace. They’re currently available to a small group of retail and eCommerce Pages, and while you cannot select keywords or phrases for Search ad campaigns, you can include Search as a general or stand-alone placement.

Our take:
As available inventory continues to fill and the newsfeed becomes more saturated, Facebook is constantly looking for new placements for advertisers. As they did with Messenger, we suspect that in order to make them attractive, they’ll be prioritizing them with better offers, lower rates, and broader audience reach. We’ll being watching these placements as they become available to all accounts.

Mobile Ad Formatting is Changing

Beginning August 19th, posts and ads by Pages will be getting a new look. Currently, Facebook accepts images as tall as a 2:3 aspect ratio and can display up to seven lines of text. To match their new mobile design, Facebook is now limiting the copy to three lines before a “See More” link, and media needs to have a max height of 4:5.

Our take:
These don’t represent a strategy shift, but could require some simple creative updates to existing assets. With less than half of the space available for copy, it places a priority on well-written, scroll-stopping messages.

Introducing the Customer Feedback Score

As part of their ongoing effort to protect users, Facebook is now using customer feedback to assess a business’s ability to run ads: determing the cost, reach, and whether or not to shut down a suspect advertiser entirely.

Based on a score of five, Facebook is assigning a ranking to businesses based on their ability to provide a positive customer experience… not just through the Facebook network ads, but also in the post-click experience: the website, store, and purchase process, as well as after-purchase factors like shipping and overall product satisfaction.

Right now, your Page likely has a score, and if it’s below a 3.0, you’ll receive a notification about it. Pages with feedback score between 1 and 2 will pay more for ads, and will be seen by a smaller audience.

Facebook provides a series of tips to set reasonable expectations for offers, shipping, customer service, and product availability that provide insight into the kinds of feedback they solicit to gauge these scores. They’re well worth a read.

Our take:
Facebook has been doing serious audience research to restore good will with users, and they have solid data to back up this not-so-surprising fact: people who purchase products through Facebooks ads hold Facebook responsible for the full customer experience. With only so much ad space available, they are driving a wedge between the legit and the questionable by prioritizing online businesses who provide the best quality customer service.

Reach Estimates for Custom Audiences are Returning

In March of 2018, Facebook dropped this feature after researchers discovered a bug that made it possible for advertiser to infer targeting attributes of users (such as gender or location) via the tool.

This month, Facebook is reinstating the tool. They say, “We focused on three key areas to curb potential misuse: privacy, protection and new usage restrictions. With these updates now in place, we are reinstating custom audience reach estimates. We continue to be grateful to the researchers who identified the bug and for working with us to fix it.”

Our take:
Reach estimates are an especially useful tool that allow businesses to determine the scope of a campaign size, and are important in planning more effectively. They’re available now in the Facebook Ads Manager, and should be consulted as you budget.

Get Inspiration or View Competitors with Facebook Ads Library

As part of their ongoing efforts towards transparency, Facebook now offers an Ad Library that allows you to view all active ads running across Facebook products.

Our take:
The library approach is intended to help users understand more about who is advertising to them, but there are business benefits as well. You can view what your competitors and other challenger brands are doing for industry research. Or, you can find other businesses who inspire you and see all their campaigns at once. Observing how their copy and images play together, the balance of video and photos, or the breakdown of content vs. offers can further enhance strategy.

So Long, Relevance Score. Hello, Relevance Diagnostics Metrics.

Lastly, rather than measure relevancy in a single metric, Facebook now offers three “more granular ad relevance diagnostics metrics. Like the relevance score, these ad relevance diagnostics are not factored into an ad’s performance in the auction.”

The new metrics are:

  • Quality ranking: How your ad’s perceived quality compared with ads competing for the same audience.
  • Engagement rate ranking: How your ad’s expected engagement rate compared with ads competing for the same audience.
  • Conversion rate ranking: How your ad’s expected conversion rate compared with ads that had the same optimization goal and competed for the same audience.

Our take:
This is a welcome update. The old version was useful, but the separate diagnostics help remove the guesswork in figuring why a campaign achieved a low score. Instead of a single number, you can now look across targeting, creative, or the post-click experience to improve budgeting and achieve better ROAS. Drilling down into this level of detail will allow better reporting and more informed business decisions.

As Facebook continues to try to make good in the eyes of shareholders and in the court of public perception, they’ll keep tweaking and shifting things around in their Ad Network. We’ll be watching, and helping strategize to accommodate all the shifts. If you’re interested in thinking more about Revenue Optimization and how to get the best Return on Ad Spend, contact our Business Development Manager Cindy Zupcic, czupcic@xenopsi.com.

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