2014 was an exciting year for marketers using Facebook Advertising — but a tough one. While lots of features have been added to get more from Facebook Ads, certain limitations were also introduced in order to curb spamming, which ruins the user experience.
It’s certainly been an exciting year for AdEspresso as we kept up with all these changes while simultaneously innovating and growing the business 10x in just one year. Thanks guys; we would never have got there without your support and feedback!
With 2015 just getting started, I thought it would be a good time to summarize the most significant trends of the past year as well as highlight some key lessons learned that we’ll take with us into the new year.
Custom Audiences & Co.
Custom Audiences were introduced in 2013 but they really took off in 2014 as marketers got more skilled working with them and began using them extensively. If you haven’t jumped on-board yet, take a look at our Custom Audiences’ Guide and see how you can put them to work for you in 2015.
Key Lessons Learned: Immediately add the retargeting pixel to your website even if traffic is low. Sales are not everything, if you can’t convert a visitor into a customer, at least try to use them as a lead and get their email address. This way, you can send them special offers in the future!
Marketers are understanding what really matters
Until recently, Facebook was thought of as an advertising platform for big brands, who just wanted to put their logo in front of every potential buyer. Lots of people thought that Facebook Ads sucked even if they had little data to back that up.
But things has changed. Most of the emails I received in 2014 from AdEspresso’s customers were about how to increase sales, generate leads, and measure real business metrics using Facebook Ads.
Key Lesson Learned: Getting more Facebook Likes can be useful if you have a great Social Media strategy but your focus should be on tracking the real ROI of your Facebook Ads and use them to grow your business not just its brand awareness.
Mobile is now huge
In Q1 2014, Facebook’s mobile advertising revenue surpassed desktop ad revenue. Mobile is becoming more and more relevant and I’m not just talking about Facebook Ads. People are getting used to buying things on-the-go from their mobile devices and, even though conversion rates are still lower than desktop, most of the product discovery and purchase decisions are made on a mobile device and then later finalized via desktop.
Key Lesson Learned: If you haven’t done so already, start planning your mobile strategy, either with a native app or a responsive website. Go beyond Facebook Ads to drive mobile app installations and start advertising to those users who have downloaded your app on how to engage with it. If you’re not ready for mobile yet, exclude mobile placement from your Facebook Ads campaigns since it will likely generate most of the traffic.
Facebook Advertising is becoming a mature platform
In 2014, Facebook improved its advertising platform dramatically to the point where it is finally starting to be a mature advertising platform — and seen as one.
The new AdSet structure allows more granular control of your budget allocation, bidding can be fine-tuned however you like, the new Audience Network allows you to reach users outside Facebook, and on and on… The improvements released this year are almost endless!
Key Lesson Learned:
- Ignore the Facebook haters who claim that Facebook Ads don’t work. They absolutely do work for most businesses. Test them for yourself.
- Keep up with new features as they’re released and use them to your advantage immediately.
- Play by the rules. Facebook is enforcing ad rules more aggressively. For instance, they recently cracked down on buying Likes and on scraping Custom Audiences.
More and better Facebook Ads resources
Up until last year, the overall quality of the resources available to learn about Facebook Ads was pretty poor. Most were expensive courses that proclaimed some variation on “How to get rich with Facebook Ads” which only explained a handful of black-hat, short-lived tactics.
In 2014 things got much better. Facebook Business Center improves every day and bloggers like Jon Loomer, Social Mouths, and Jason How are doing a great job training users to successfully advertise on Facebook.
At AdEspresso, of course we’re also doing our best to provide users with great free resources in our Facebook Ads Academy. We’re hosting weekly webinars on Facebook Ads, releasing new eBooks and Guides, and even some free tools to analyze and benchmark you Facebook Ads Campaigns.
Key Lesson Learned: Keep following the top blogs reporting on Facebook Ads and learn new tactics. Be careful, however. You can’t trust everything you read. Most of the ‘Facebook Ad Gurus’ never actually created an ad campaign in their lives, so look for posts that are data-driven and support their findings with real-world examples and data.
What to expect in 2015? Video & Local!
So, those were the top trends in 2014. Now, what about 2015?
No one can know for sure what 2015 will bring but we can make some educated guesses by analyzing the millions of dollars in Facebook Advertising funneling through AdEspresso every month.
1) Video Advertising: Facebook is betting big on video and the new Facebook Ad Types for video are performing pretty well. Also, SMBs with small production budgets are getting creative with some amazing results.
2) Focus on small and local businesses: Adoption of Facebook Ads by companies is nearing 100% and, in 2015, Facebook’s revenue growth will come from small local businesses. The trend has already started and Facebook is betting big on this segment, for example by recently releasing Local Awareness Ads. By the way, if you’re in UK, check out this Facebook event for SMBs. We’ll be there too!
3) Focus on specific verticals: This is not likely to come directly from Facebook but my guess is that more and more Facebook marketing partners like AdEspresso will focus on specific vertical marketing addressing the pain points of niche industries.
Did I leave anything out?
What do you think will be the top trends in Facebook Ads in 2015?
What worked best for you in 2014?
Let me know by adding your comment below.
And happy new year to everyone!