MENLO PARK, Calif. – Facebook wants to do for advertisers what it has done for its users since the beginning - simplify the process of sharing, connecting, and engaging with everything and everyone online. For marketers, that means less guesswork in their social advertising campaigns and a stronger focus on business objectives.
Facebook's ad product team gathered here at Facebook headquarters on Thursday to detail plans for a unified ad structure that will see the demise of redundant ad products - there are currently 27 separate ad products up for bid on the site - and the amplification of marketing objectives that focus on the bottom line. Online and in-store sales, app downloads, promotional offers and brand awareness, and other key marketing objectives will eventually rise to the surface of Facebook's advertising stack over the next six months.
Numerous Facebook ad products will be killed off in an effort to give marketers a more consistent advertising platform that works across all placements and objectives. The proliferation of ad units on Facebook reflects the evolution the site has gone through as it introduces new features for users, says Fidji Simo, an advertising product manager at Facebook.
"All of the right pieces were there," she says. "Even though every single product is very good on its own, the whole is less than the sum of its parts. It really should be simpler."
As Facebook identifies redundancies in its platform, new combined ad units are being designed to meet a greater range of objectives and make it easier for ad managers to set up their campaigns, Simo adds. The ad product team doesn't have a specific number in mind for how many ad formats will remain after the culling this summer and fall, but Simo says the simplification process is ongoing and that Facebook will continue to iterate its ad portfolio.
"There is really no reason why sponsored stories should be a completely separate product," she says, for example. The same goes for online sale offers and question-based ads. "We're trying to really unify all of these ad units," adds Simo.
Consistency across ad formats will also drastically reduce the number of creative assets required to launch a full campaign across every channel and placement available on the platform, she continues.
Facebook has been "thinking about who we are as an advertising business," says Brian Boland, director of product marketing at Facebook. "Advertisers at the end of the day, the reason they do marketing, is to drive business outcomes…It's about improving their business' bottom line and that's been our focus."
As Facebook incrementally built products for each step of the marketing loop, it was solving business objectives for advertisers, but the solutions occurred in silos, says Boland. "All size of advertisers, agencies, [preferred marketing developers] - all will benefit from these changes" that focus on "maximizing business outcomes," he adds.
Brands will still be able to control which ad units or placements they desire, but by selecting objectives the revamped platform will also indicate the units or placements that perform best for that specific objective, he explains. Once advertisers identify what they're trying to accomplish and create a message or ad for that goal, Facebook will suggest the right format and then lead them through options for targeting and customization.
"We're going to help them make better decisions up front," Boland says. "We continue to give advertisers control…This doesn't reduce control, it reduces complexity."
Brands are already experts at finding their audiences, building creative, and measuring performance that can be accurately pinned to results, he says, adding that Facebook wants to make that process easier and more impactful with the power of social. "This is marketing that marketers and advertisers understand," says Boland.
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Matt Kapko has been writing about mobile since 2006, before it became cool. Based in Long Beach, CA, he has covered mobile entertainment, digital media, marketing, and advertising for several business media outlets. A former editor and reporter for RCR Wireless News, paidContent, and iMedia Connection, Matt is a regular freelance reporter for ClickZ. You can follow Matt on Twitter at @MattKapko or drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 19, 2014