5 Reasons SEM Pros Should Run Facebook Advertising

Before we talk about why search engine marketing (SEM) professionals should be running Facebook advertising, things are just too exciting this month to jump to that topic. Of course, Facebook’s IPO (which as of this writing is not doing particularly well) was preceded by The Wall Street Journal reporting that General Motors is killing all Facebook advertising, relying instead on the content, social and earned, media element of Facebook. The Wall Street Journal quoted GM Marketing Chief Joel Ewanick, who said, “GM is definitely reassessing our advertising on Facebook, although the content is effective and important.” Of course, almost immediately (presumably at the request of Facebook), Ford came out with a contrasting view. Ad Age reported that Scott Monty, Ford’s head of social media, said, “We’ve found that Facebook ads are very effective, and they’re most effective when we strategically combine them with great content and innovative forms of storytelling rather than a straight media buy…”

Of course, GM, Ford, and their agencies don’t buy most of their Facebook advertising using the same self-serve interface that most mid-sized marketers use, but the targeting options are essentially the same. Clearly, opinions differ in the quality of impressions, clicks, and likes within the Facebook ecosystem, as well as how much influence the impressions, clicks, and likes deliver to brand or direct response marketers. There’s even pending litigation around invalid clicks. Jonathan Shub, a lawyer with Seeger Weiss whom I’ve advised on the pay per click (PPC) ecosystem, has been investigating click quality at Facebook on behalf of advertisers in connection with a lawsuit pending in California. Shub said, “It is my view that advertisers have not been diligent enough in auditing click and impression quality and validity of their Facebook ad campaigns, and we continue to discuss with advertisers steps they can take to improve the ROI in these campaigns to hold Facebook accountable for their promises.” Facebook clearly still has to win over many brand advertisers and direct response advertisers that the huge reach and high touch of the Facebook ecosystem translate into influence over brand metric and influence over sales.

It’s almost a natural assumption among the online marketing community that the best suited professionals to manage Facebook PPC advertising are the SEM managers (in-house SEMs or agency SEMs). Indeed that is true, and this column will discuss some of the best practices in SEM that hold true for Facebook PPC as well. However, Facebook advertising also has some very social media-specific quirks and best practices. Facebook ads also share some performance characteristics with online display advertising. At the conclusion of this column, I’ll cover those important differentiators as well. But let’s get started with the elements of Facebook advertising that make you, as a seasoned SEM professional, a great fit to manage Facebook PPC advertising:

  1. You are comfortable with media auctions, particularly PPC auctions. This means you understand inherently that not all clicks have the same value, and that the objective both within and across media is to maximize the value to your business from the clicks that you buy.
  2. You understand that poorly targeted ads get poor “quality score,” aka predicted click-through rate, and that bad quality score can kill your campaign.
  3. You understand how to measure metrics and then create feedback loops to adjust bids across an ecosystem.
  4. You know how important it is to have the landing page match the expectations of the clicker, taking into account their desires as well as their behavioral, social, psychographic, and demographic profiles.
  5. You are used to prioritizing an endless to-do list and realize that continuous testing and improvement is critical to a campaign’s success.

On the flipside, there are some things we as search marketers take for granted that can get us in trouble on Facebook. These are areas that require additional training before we can master PPC Facebook ads. For example:

  • Understanding how to deal with ad burnout particularly on the standard Facebook ads. Because you are targeting users (based on specific definitions), heavy Facebook users will potentially see your ad a lot, and if they don’t click on it, Facebook will stop serving it, and so fresh ads are critical.
  • The right image on your ads (standard ads) is critical. There’s a whole science to the facial or brand images.
  • Social sharing is critical, so understanding the earned media multiplier impact of the ads helps justify the spend.
  • You’ll probably have to come up with a rational (or irrational) way of valuing a like.

In the meantime, you can count on Facebook rolling out significant changes to its ads and to the targeting options because it needs to show Wall Street that the earnings and revenue estimates can be revised upward.

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Screenshot shows a Google search for outdoor grills, the shopping ads shows images with “in store” showing the product is available nearby.