When the marketers behind “Certifiably Jonathan” began testing Facebook’s self-serve ad platform two months ago, they modestly hoped to build up 25,000 “likes.” Actual results more than doubled that goal, as the mockumentary-style film about comedy legend Jonathan Winters opens in theaters today with 54,000 “likes.”
Chandos Erwin is managing director at Los Angeles-based agency Oatmeal Beach, which has been running the “Certifiably Jonathan” campaign for the production company FilmDada. Erwin gave ClickZ a detailed account of the Facebook campaign’s evolution through substantial testing.
“We’ve run a lot of ads with a wide variety of targets,” he said. “We started targeting Johnny Carson/’Tonight Show’ fans [on Facebook] combined with Robin Williams fans. We tested running ads to fans of some of the celebrities that appear in the film. We’ve run ads to people who like the shows that Jonathan Winters appeared on – ‘Laugh In,’ ‘Dean Martin Roasts.'”
During the tests, Erwin said he learned the most effective ads targeted friends of people who had already “liked” the movie’s page. He said those ad buys have been getting an impressive click-through rate of 2 percent.
Oatmeal Beach’s client, FilmDada, confirmed that number with ClickZ. “In fact, one day we had a click-through rate of 4.8 percent,” said Matt Fortnow, executive producer for “Certifiably Jonathan.”
Erwin said, “The most effective ads used the image of [comedian Jonathan Winters] holding a gun to his head. We would have run this image for every variation, but the Facebook ad approval team rejected it a number of times because they deemed it inappropriate. It depended on who you got [from Facebook].”
The managing director said his team originally did not have a set budget for paid Facebook media. Early on, Erwin said, they “were blown away” by the results they were getting from $50 per day. “We decided to extend the test and raised the budget to $100…and then $200 per day,” he explained. “We then adjusted it back to $100 per day after seeing that that campaign was more effective with a lower spend.”
Erwin said the results have led his team to focus on optimizing Facebook ads, instead of potentially spreading themselves thin by also testing Google Adwords and Twitter promos. “The same $0.10 to $0.20 per click you spend [in other places] goes a lot a further on Facebook,” he said. “One $0.10 click can keep you communicating with a fan for as long as they remain a fan.”
A secondary concern to the campaign has been to get 85-year-old Jonathan Winters, the film’s comedy legend subject, onto NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” as a guest host. (A similar effort for octogenarian actress Betty White was successfully orchestrated on Facebook last year.) Though, Erwin said his company’s $100-per-day Facebook budget is chiefly focused on raising awareness for the movie.
“Since we already had a successful page for the film, we didn’t want to dilute efforts by running our ads to a separate ‘SNL’ campaign page,” he said. “Instead, we created a custom application that allowed Facebook users to vote, post comments, and share the campaign with friends.”