- Unilever, RB, Diageo, Patagonia, Disney—more than a thousand advertisers have stopped investing on Facebook and Instagram as a response to hate speech on the social platforms. This is a unique opportunity to assess the true value of Facebook, provided that brands leverage the right playbook for re-allocating budget and measure impact on conversions.
- According to the IAB/PWC, Facebook makes up about 30% of US online ad revenue. As advertisers pull ad spend and analyze performance from alternative platforms like TikTok, Google and Amazon, they’re able to decipher whether the results are more favorable than what Facebook was producing.
- The question boils down to the ability to compare an existing media plan with an alternative option. Brands need to think with a media mix modeling mindset and handle Facebook as an ecosystem, not a basic ad network in their mix.
The Facebook Boycott has created a unique opportunity for digital advertisers’ ad spend budgets.
As the boycott extends and some brands pledge to pull spending throughout the rest of the year, the paused ad spend will have to go to other platforms.
How to cope with the budget reallocation headache
When faced with the challenge of re-allocating budgets from Facebook to other channels, brands first need to split out Facebook budget lines per campaign objective.
A typical Facebook Business Manager account will include dozens of lines of budgets. These can include optimized brand awareness video campaigns, look-alike collection ads aimed at new website visits, dynamic retargeting carousels for cost-per-conversion and lead ads for direct marketing program enrollment including in-store visit campaigns.
The alternatives will greatly vary between each type of campaign and so will the KPIs.
For instance, when re-allocating a lower-funnel retargeting campaign, brands need to consider Facebook’s unique ability to reach people across devices.
The selected alternative partner should have the same ability to seamlessly serve ads across desktop and mobile, like Google, Amazon or Criteo. The increase in budget should include a revisit of the frequency capping strategy, to not be throttled by the website audience size.
When re-allocating a mid-funnel, look-alike campaign based on an offline custom audience, brands need to shortlist partners that can use a similar seed-audience, whether through direct upload (e.g. Google’s Customer Match) or through a third-party CRM on-boarder like Liveramp.
They need to expect reach and performance variation, because of different match rates between onboarding platforms and the size of look-alike audiences.
The need to take measurement at a higher level
A solid budget reallocation playbook with specific guide rails per campaign type is a must-have, but it is not enough. Because brands will mostly increase budgets on existing channels, they should expect performance variation for pretty much every line in their new media plan.
An existing programmatic retargeting campaign, which gets a 30 percent budget to absorb Facebook’s existing retargeting budget will need a higher frequency cap to be able to serve against, because of the website audience’s volume constraint.
With more ads served to the same user (or a higher CPM to increase site visitor reach and burn the budget), performance will likely decrease, but does it mean the new strategy is not working?
To answer this question, brands need to think like media mix modelers and take a step back from the weekly reporting they receive from their agency.
It is not because an increase in budget on YouTube or Amazon advertising translates into a higher cost-per-view on a 15-second video or a higher cost-per-conversion for a product banner that Facebook would have brought in better results.
The only way to assess performance at the media mix level is to analyze the short-term and long-term impact on sales with daily or weekly impression data layered in with sales data. Brands should also prepare for a progressive ramp-up of Facebook when the boycott is over.
By this point, advertisers participating in the boycott should have data available that can start to give them an idea of how successful their new approach at reaching consumers is going.
While this is not the time to A/B test—there are multiple channels available that will provide results. When considering moving budgets back to Facebook, it is recommended to do it gradually and assess the progressive evolution of sales, when turning on the tap even more.
It is pretty unusual to completely stop investing in a major advertising channel, while keeping the others open.
While this comes with a number of challenges for re-allocating budgets, it presents a unique opportunity to truly measure the impact of a walled-garden, which most advertisers today are unable to prove the true sales impact.