Those who tried Facebook Automated Ad raise your hand, please. Those who “Nah, I don’t trust new features until you show me numbers” raise your hand, please. And those of you that didn’t even know what facebook Automated ads were until this moment raise your hand, please.
All of you put your hands down now, please, you’ll need them to scroll through this post!
If you’re looking to move past the boost button and start to drive some more direct action for your business with minimal setup time – Facebook Automated Ads could just be what you’ve been looking for.
Facebook ads have been a powerful tool in the marketeers (NOT a typo 😯 ) tool kit for a number of years now.
Facebook Ad manager has an extensive range of features to create highly targeted campaigns and deliver results – this comes with requiring expertise though, plus staying updated and being willing to invest a reasonable amount of time in learning campaign creation.
Here’s everything you need to know about Facebook automated ads, what they are, how they work and, most importantly, what happened when we used them to promote our latest event.
Automation in marketing usually tends to provoke 2 kinds of thought;
😎 Wow, shiny new things yay! Think of all the stuff I could get done with that time back 🚀
🙀 We fear change! It won’t work anyway! Don’t put your money in a computer’s hands! 💸
When I first came across Facebook automated ads in Business Manager, there was no exception to this train of thought.
If you’re a Facebook marketer, you’re no doubt used to stumbling across new features as you go about creating and optimizing campaigns.
Business Manager as a platform is amazing but Facebook really do a good job at keeping quiet about changes and updates!
That’s exactly what happened to me a couple of months ago.
I was reviewing some page insights in Facebook Business manager and I came across a feature I had never seen before.
It appears Facebook is now offering ‘automated ads’, whereby they will create a ‘custom advertising plan’ for your business and will then, in turn, create ads which will run on an ongoing basis.
What are Facebook Automated Ads?
Exactly what they say they are.
Facebook asks you a few questions and creates a campaign for you based on your business goals and objectives.
You still have some input, on stuff like ad copy, destination URL, and some of your targeting criteria but the whole ad creation process becomes just a “hit the next button a few times and you’ll have a half decent campaign running for your page“.
You do need to have a Pixel already implemented to get the best value and as they are still in beta at the moment were massively buggy to get started (3 attempts and 2 support tickets later).
Facebook Automated Ads Pro tip:
If you’re going to try them out after reading this blog don’t add URL parameters to the destination URL (wow the only time I’m ever going to say that) – it breaks the campaign creation at the moment.
They dynamically get added once the campaign is created anyway.
Itching to try them out?
How to get started with Facebook Automated Ads
Just head over to your page via Business Manager and under the ‘create post’ box, you should see where you can get started if they are available.
I’m not going to go into too much detail on how to set these ads up as they’re relatively straight forward and there’s also a more detailed set of instructions by some dashing young Facebook Ads guy here. 😳
All you’ll need to get going is to pick some assets, write a bit of ad copy and of course some ad spend.
Once the campaign is up and running, it will appear in ad manager so you can see how it’s getting on with your other campaigns.
The great thing I will say about the ad creation stage, is they provide a suggested character limit to both the headline and text fields – no doubt in an effort to avoid ‘See more’ coming up on your copy when it’s live in the feed, maximizing visibility for mobile devices.
Now I know what you’re thinking… an ad you create from your page… quickly… isn’t that just a boosted post?
Facebook Automated Ads Vs. Boosted Posts
Facebook Automated Ads and Facebook Boosted Posts are very similar in many respects but also aren’t the same (although I do think this will end up becoming what is now the boosted post in the foreseeable future).
Boosted posts have improved recently, with the ability to set optimizations for certain actions like website visits, but their primary objective has always been to increase post engagement.
Boosting a post may help you get more people to like, share and comment on the posts you create.”
There’s nothing wrong with that if that’s what you want, in my experience though, 9/10 times when someone hits boost what they really want isn’t post engagement, it’s sales, leads or website visits.
It’s a false sense of success to see a load of likes on your post after you’ve chucked in some cash and feel like it’s worked because organic reach is declining and usually you get minimal interaction, by comparison.
With a boosted post you have to ask yourself; how many of those who liked, actually visited the website? How many of those actually went on to perform one of those valuable actions?
In most instances you won’t know because nothing will have happened as you’ve optimized for the wrong users and if you try and look at the traffic in Google Analytics to see what it did – there are no URL parameters associated, so, all of your boost traffic is muddied in with Facebook organic. Read more on this rant.
The key difference with automated ads is they’re fully geared towards finding people who are likely to take the action you want them to and they’re designed to run on a longer time scale so they can optimize and improve over time.
Facebook Automated Ads: Targeting
Let’s talk about targeting for a minute, the default targeting option for your Facebook Automated ads this type of campaign is an all website visitors audience and a lookalike of that audience with interest expansion.
This really really interested me as I used this for a couple of small e-commerce campaigns last year where there wasn’t enough add to cart or purchase data to work with and guess what?
It worked really well.
Do Facebook Automated Ads Really Work? The Experiment
So, how do Facebook Automated Ads actually work in practice?
To find out, I set up a campaign for Aira’s marketing event MKGO – we already had a campaign running on LinkedIn and we’ve run various Facebook campaigns in the past, so, we’ve got plenty of comparison data to work with.
I tried to have as little influence on this campaign as possible, so, through the setup process I did what I was told by Facebook and left the default options for everything other than the CTA button as Shop Now wasn’t the best fit.
I set a £50 per day (around US $66) budget as the campaign suggested to do, and ran the campaign for 10 days.
Location targeting was Milton Keynes (a large town about 50 miles north-west of London, England) where the event is taking place) and a commutable after work drive radius.
Something interesting to note is once I made the campaign without URL parameters (as instructed by tech support and mentioned above), Facebook pushed in its own parameters and defined the campaign medium as ‘paid’.
It’s a small thing but great to see the acknowledgment that marketers do want to use Google analytics to track their Facebook ads (and other analytics platforms) as well as just the Pixel conversion tracking data.
Facebook Automated Ads Experiment: the Results
Let’s cut it to the bone, here’re our numbers:
- 45 ticket bookings
- £11.54 avg CPA
- 5.91% conversion rate
- 266 clicks
- 0.57% avg CTR
- £1.95 avg CPC
- £519.35 Spend
We aren’t disappointed with the results above.
I’ll give some context.
They’re cheaper in terms of CPA and CPC than our current LinkedIn campaign, which as we all know is usually the most expensive platform to use, albeit likely a more qualified lead.
The thing I find most interesting is the conversion rate.
The CTR indicates something isn’t resonating as it’s below benchmark (and was really hard not to do anything about whilst the experiment ran) but the conversion rate indicates the campaign must be finding the right people.
These metrics indicate to me that Facebook has learned the people most likely to convert and has focused on showing them ads multiple times, lowering CTR but showing when they do click, they convert well, so are the right users.
Facebook Automated Ads Experiment: Conclusions
I appreciate these numbers are small in the grand scheme of things, the budget could have been bigger, the number of clicks higher and we could have run the campaign for longer. 🙄
But I’m going to take a nearly 6% conversion rate and comparable CPA for a campaign which took less than 15 minutes to create.
Could we have done a better job if we had made a campaign manually?
I’ve run campaigns for MKGO in the past and I know we can get cheaper results with a higher engagement rate on Facebook but the tradeoff would be having the time and experience to do so.
If I was a sole trader/small business and I was new to paid social advertising, this is a tool which could have some real merit and value in using.
Is it going to put us fulltime Facebook marketers out of job?
Probably not… yet.
Byron Marr is the Paid Media Strategist at Aira, a Milton Keynes based digital marketing agency. In addition to developing results driven strategies, Byron creates and manages paid social and paid search campaigns for a number of businesses spanning a variety of sectors and sizes. You can connct with Byron through LinkedIn: and Twitter. He loves cats & drinking coffee. Ask him about Timmons the #Googlegrump cat to break the ice.