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Market Trends

Facebook Ads Campaign Setup Tips for the Holiday Season

Written by
15 Nov, 2016

As we're entering the last part of the year, advertisers have to put in place new strategies in order to reach their goals. It's not easy, as competition dramatically increases at this period of the year. Last year, we saw a 44.5% increase in CPMs in the last two months of the year, vs. the average CPM of the other months. Yet, some of our clients generated their best results ever, at scale.

Here are some of the bidding, and campaign setup advice we gave them.

Bid as you need

Facebook provides several great indicators helping to bid correctly. If the theory makes perfect sense, and usually drives good results when followed, we see that in some intense periods of the year, advertisers must go off-track to reach their objectives.

One of the common pitfall is to blindly follow the bids recommended by the Facebook Ads system when the context is unpredictable. During specific times of the year, bidding much more or much less than recommended can drive better results.

For instance, we have seen advertisers bidding at $20 oCPM on Purchase the whole year, and then bid $120 to get to reach their goals at the end of it. That didn't mean their CPA increased 6 fold, it just meant they'd adapted to an increased competition in the ecosystem, despite being advised much lower bids by the recommendation system.

Of course, the bid value is not the only available lever to pull in order to generate volume, one of them is to trick the pacing algorithm.

Push the Pacing Algorithm

In this case, what we want to do is tricking the pacing algorithm in delivering faster throughout the day, so that the normal pacing doesn't limit our chances to reach our daily budgets.

Most, if not all of these methods can have a negative impact on the CPA, unless having more volume allows you to optimize better, and compensate higher costs on your upper funnel metrics.

The first built-in way is to use the accelerated delivery mode. This is a great feature that basically ignores the concept of pacing, which normally avoids ads to be shown on all opportunities, but only on the most likely to generate the best outcome. So when it's enabled, it can really help deliver upper funnel focused campaigns, like video views or website click campaigns. Just bear in mind it can be a really expensive and hard to control solution when it comes to performance focused campaigns, optimizing towards offsite goals (e.g. Purchase, Lead, Mobile App Installs).

facebook-spend-cap-mmr

Another good way, is to set much higher budgets than you actually plan to spend. This is perhaps the oldest trick media buyers have been using, on and off Facebook. The only risk with most systems, is that you could be victim of a sudden volume surge, spending the whole budget you've set, which, if this budget is 3 times higher than what you'd actually want to spend, can be a problem...

Fortunately, Facebook allows to set Spend Caps, which are basically a hard spending limit, that doesn't impact the delivery algorithm. For instance, you can set a daily budget of $3,000, with a spend cap at $1,000, which will push the pacing algorithm to deliver $3,000 by the end of the day, while stopping the delivery as soon as $1,000 have been delivered. Just make sure that, if you set this cap for a lifetime campaign, you update this cap if you want to keep delivering once reached.

As always with tricks, make sure you don't end up being tricked yourself :)

Pick the right bid types

Some bid types are just not the best choice if you're primary objective is to generate volume. For instance, CPA for Mobile App Install is a great way to secure a maximum Cost Per Install (CPI), but certainly not to scale your Mobile App Install (MAI) campaigns. You will be very likely outbid by most of the other advertisers using oCPM on MAI, or other variants of oCPM bidding.

Mix auction bidding and Reach & Frequency

When driving traffic gets more complicated through an auction bidding approach, one good way to still achieve your goals is to use reserved buys. Facebook's Reach & Frequency is a well known, and effective way to do so.

If you're after strict offsite performance, the best approach is to first run a Reach & Frequency campaign using videos, and then retarget the viewers with conversion-focused messages and bidding methods.

Just bear in mind that the sooner you make your prediction, the better it is when it comes to your CPM.

Use the Placement Optimization

When delivery is an issue, one of the solutions is to increase the number of placements you're running your ads on. The best way to do so while maximizing efficiency is to ensure all the campaigns you create are Placement Optimization enabled.

placement-optimized-facebook-instagram-facebook-audience-network-fan

What this means, is that instead of creating multiple ad sets for each placements, you'd include all the available placements in each of your ad sets.

By doing so, the Facebook algorithm will maximize the delivery on the most effective placements relative to your goals and audiences. This is a great way to leverage Instagram, the Facebook Audience Network, and even placements like the Right Hand Side. Facebook Audience Network can be really useful to extend your Facebook campaign's reach, as you can - for instance - reach Facebook users who are not actively using the Facebook app or site during the time of your campaign.

Note that advertisers that are not organically active on Instagram shouldn't refrain themselves from delivering their campaigns on Instagram. Not doing so is basically the equivalent of declining an invitation to deliver more, with no additional effort... If you're a MakeMeReach users, all your campaigns are Placement Optimization campaigns by default.

Leverage lesser used ad formats

The more advertisers are bidding on specific objectives, the more the CPM will increase. If your goal is to generates leads, and if you're currently doing this by using the Website Click or Website Conversion objective, then you should definitely consider Facebook's Lead Ads.

facebook-lead-ad-makemereach

Using Lead Ads usually dramatically helps reducing costs, by the simple nature of the format - fully hosted by Facebook. But that's not the only reason. As this format is not as used as others, using it, with the oCPM on Lead can be a great way to generate volume without entering in frontal competition with everyone else.

Feed the algorithm

For Website Conversion campaigns, the most important indicator is the conversion rate. The higher it is, the more you'll deliver. When there is a lot of competition, as users might end up buying from your competitors even after having seen your own ads, you might see a drop in conversions, which can impact the algorithm's ability to discover new people to show your ads to, and by extension, the delivery.

In order to maximise the algorithm's ability to learn which people convert best for your products, make sure you use those options:

  • New Pixel: If you're still using the old one, you're missing a lot of cross-device conversions, and you should move now to the new Facebook Pixel. Don't forget the old Facebook pixel will be deprecated in 2017.
  • oCPM conversion window option: oCPM works by default on a 1-day conversion window, but on MakeMeReach, you can set it to 7 days, so that Facebook can better learn from your users taking some extra days to convert.
  • Advanced Matching: Facebook's pixel is extremely powerful, and its capabilities can be improved. A feature was released earlier this year, allowing advertisers to send more details about their users (like first name, last name, etc). This is only used by Facebook to improve the match rate, and therefore, the amount of conversions that are tracked and that can be used to improve your campaigns' performances.
  • Chose a more frequent optimization goal: if your campaign is not generating enough Purchases, you might want to start optimizing towards AddToCart instead. This will help the algorithm gather more positive signals, and should mechanically drive more Purchases.

Those are just a few of the techniques we've been giving to advertisers, there are plenty more... but we keep them for our clients :)

Find out how you can get the most out of your holiday ads investment Discover MakeMeReach

About Clément Boutignon Head of Client Services here at MakeMeReach, Clément is a highly skilled, self-professed nerd. Aside from developing long-term relationships with our clients and meeting with key partners, a lot of his time is spent in operations, management and strategic planning. We’re constantly hounding after him for blog posts, but with a yearning to teach and, in his words "to make people learn something new", we know he doesn’t mind.

All posts by Clément Boutignon