Social media platforms such as Facebook provide a unique opportunity to deliver highly targeted advertising campaigns to an extremely engaged audience. With more than 800 million daily active users on Facebook alone, it’s not surprising that marketers are keen to tap into this valuable market. To take full advantage of this opportunity, marketers need to understand the science behind social media and the types of advertising that will provide the highest ROI in this distinct environment.

Marketing messages on social media should be delivered with a rate, sequence, and frequency that is appropriate to the unique experience and mindset of the individual network. Fortunately for marketers, social media also provides the ideal platform to test and optimise campaigns, and to discover what works best for individual brands in this exceptional environment.

With this in mind, Adaptly has undertaken research in conjunction with Facebook and Refinery29 to determine whether sequenced advertising – where consumers are shown a series of adverts designed to move them progressively down the sales funnel – is more or less effective that a sustained call to action, for a specific target audience.

A campaign audience of around two million Facebook users was created using the top 5% of Refinery29’s email subscribers, matching them with Facebook users, and then growing the audience using Facebook’s lookalike audience tool. This audience was divided into groups and shown one of two twelve-day Facebook advertising campaigns. The first was a sequenced campaign culminating in a call to action. It included a top of the funnel ad for brand message and awareness, a middle of the funnel ad for product information and consideration, and a bottom of the funnel ad for conversion, which was for email signup. Each ad was shown for four days. The second campaign was a sustained call to action where three ads – all intended to drive an email signup – were each shown for four days.

The two key metrics that were measured were the percentage of users who visited the campaign landing page, and the percentage of users who subscribed to Refinery29’s emails. The results of the research revealed two key trends:

Sequencing advertising is powerful

The practice of sequencing creative to move users down the sales funnel was found to be more effective at creating interest in the campaign landing page – as well as generating email subscriptions – than the sustained call to action. The users that viewed the sequenced ads were 87% more likely to visit the landing page than the users that saw the sustained call to action ads, and 56% more likely to subscribe to emails.

Consumers respond to brand storytelling

Users that were exposed to all three of the sequenced ads were significantly more likely to visit the landing page, or subscribe to emails, than those that only had the opportunity to view one or two ads. This outlines the importance of advertisers building their brand’s story. If consumers see an entire ad sequence, they are taken on a journey from awareness to consideration to conversion, meaning they are more receptive to converting.

The campaign highlighted other factors that brands should consider when advertising on social media. Before deciding on the most appropriate type of advertising, marketers should first assess their brand equity. Brands that have low levels of consumer awareness should concentrate on top of the funnel ads that will get their brand message out there, while brands with a higher level of consumer awareness should focus their efforts on middle of the funnel goals such as product consideration. Only brands that already enjoy high levels of awareness and favourability can afford to serve up call to action ads – with bottom of the funnel goals – without first showing higher funnel ads to consumers.

Advertising platforms like Facebook provide brands with an ideal space to test and optimise creative messages and audience targeting, as well as ad frequency and pacing. They allow marketers to find the right audience by leveraging their existing customers and using the variety of tools available to identify individuals with similar traits who are likely to become valuable customers.

Social media is the ideal platform for reaching a highly engaged audience with precisely targeted ads, and the advertising possibilities on social networks are evolving all the time. Marketers should assess their brand equity before designing social media campaigns and should understand that sequential advertising is particularly effective on social platforms – leading consumers progressively down the path from awareness to consideration to conversion through the power of brand storytelling.

 

By Franklyn Martin, VP EMEA of Adaptly


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