Facebook Ads 2012 Report Recap

Earlier this year, Social Fresh published the 2012 Facebook Advertising Report, an analysis of how advertisers are using Facebook’s advertising tools.

For the report, 347 Facebook advertisers were surveyed, and the results were analyzed by leading industry experts from Likeable Media, WebTrends, Buddy media, BlitzLocal, and Social Fresh. The follow is a recap of some of my favorite sections of the report.

Why Do Companies Advertise on Facebook?

Top Facebook Advertising GoalsBased on the report, companies advertise on Facebook for four reasons:

  • Brand awareness
  • Engagement
  • Conversions
  • Audience Growth

In addition, companies set their advertising goals based on these same four reasons.

The most popular reason that companies decide to advertise on Facebook is to increase brand awareness, with 61% of respondents selecting this as their top deciding factor. In comparison, the most popular goal for their advertising campaigns was to grow their Facebook audience.

 Ad Targeting Criteria

The Facebook advertising platform is truly one of a kind, offering targeting options that no other online advertising platform can match. Advertisers have select number of main criteria to choose from and an extended network of additional sub-criteria, sometimes making the selection process seem quite daunting. The following are the top 15 targeting criteria that the surveyed advertisers used when creating their Facebook ads:

  • Age
  • Country
  • Precise Interest
  • Broad Interest
  • Interested in
  • Connections
  • State
  • City
  • Gender
  • Friends of Connections
  • Language
  • Education
  • Zip-code
  • Workplace
  • Relationship

Top Facebook Ad Targeting Criteria

One of the most interesting findings regarding targeting criteria was that gender ranked in the bottom half of the list. This seems odd because it is a straightforward targeting option that could have a positive impact on an ad’s click-through-rate. Even if a business’ product is gender neutral, the ad creative may lean more towards a female or male audience, making this targeting criteria a simple yet important choice.

Facebook Ad Targeting by LocationBased on the report, location appears to be one of the most desired targeting options, with over 1/3 of advertisers targeting users by state or city. However, I did find it peculiar that less than 20% of Facebook advertisers target users by zip-codes. Targeting by zip-codes is a very useful option for small and local businesses looking to increase sales, brand awareness, audience growth, etc. In addition to the gender criteria, zip-codes appear to be a very under utilized targeting option.

Connections would appear to be a very powerful criteria for advertisers to use when creating an ad campaign, as consumers are more likely to trust the  opinion or suggestions of their friends or connections, but it is one of the least used criteria. The report shows that almost 65% of advertisers are not frequently using the connections criteria when selecting targeting options for their ads. However, the report explains that there is a large quantity of secondary criteria that is goes into connection targeting, possibly resulting in a lack of understanding by advertisers on how to do connection targeting or they may become overwhelmed by the vast amount of options.

Using Audience Segments

Facebook Advertising Audience SegementsOne of the advantages of Facebook ads, is the ability to create multiple target audience segments that can be used to reach the “right users” with the “right ad”.

Over half of the advertisers surveyed target between 2 and 5 different audience segments with each ad they run. Additionally, almost 14% of advertisers employ a more selective targeting approach, using 6 to 10 different audience segments.

The Creative Side of Facebook Ads

Average Lifespan of a Facebook AdThe 2012 Facebook ads report focused on two very important aspects of creating Facebook ads: split testing and fresh creative.

Facebook ads have both character and image limitations; therefore, it is very important to do split testing to determine the ads that will best connect with target users. Advertisements can be tested to determine how different images, headlines, ad copy, landing pages, and targeting criteria affect the click-through-rate, so that more effective ads can be designed in the future.

Furthermore, it is also very important to refresh ad creative on a regular basis.

37% of advertisers rotate out ad creative every 5-14 days and 31% of companies update or remove their Facebook ads every 1-4 days. The report explains that the average Facebook ad has a peak click-through-rate during the first 72 hours after going live. Therefore, the longer the same ad stays up the more an advertiser will end up paying per click. It is more effective to consistently rotate out ads to help keep the cost per click lower.

Facebook Ad Metrics

Biggest Challenges with Facebook AdsBased on the advertisers surveyed, the biggest challenges  faced when using Facebook ads is how to measure ROI and accessing analytics.

Facebook offers two pricing options CPC (cost-per-click) and CPM (cost-per-thousand-views), of which the majority of respondents said they preferred the CPC pricing option.

In addition, they found that the average CPC for Facebook ads was $0.80 per click and the average CTR (click-through-rate) was 0.041%.
I highly recommended checking out the full 2012 Facebook Ads report at Social Fresh to learn more about the different items I discussed, as well as:

  • Sponsored stories
  • Adoption and growth of Facebook ads
  • Ad management software
  • Agency and vendor partners
  • Facebook ad representatives

6 thoughts on “Facebook Ads 2012 Report Recap

  1. Nick Martin says:

    It’s interesting to see so much emphasis continuing to be on growing the audience. It makes sense that it would be the goal assuming the growth is among prospective customers and influencers, but often times when brands goal tactics too narrowly on growing the audience they end up building a week social presence.

    Thanks for the great analysis on the survey, Brianna!

Comments are closed.