Facebook sucks at making money. If you’ve ever used their advertising tools, you’ve been briefly amazed by how useful it is to be able target based on interests and fine-grained demographic detail, and soon, disgusted with how terrible Facebook’s implementation is. This post is not about bashing Facebook or their business model: socially-targetted advertising will be as big of a deal for marketers as search marketing (a $16.6 billion industry) is. This post is about how Facebook could do a much better job of providing marketers with effective tools, and serving users a more engaging and relevant advertising experience.
1) Targetting Interest Combinations
Facebook’s interest targeting will stack keyword after keyword into one big targeting pile. This is great for doing things like using “ipod”, “macbook”, and “iphone” to target a larger group of apple product lovers. But its useless if you want to target people who have two(or more) separate interests. If Facebook added an additional interest field for people who want to target their ads to users interested in X1, x2, or x3 and Y1, Y2, Y3, or Y4, advertisers would be able to create much more relevant ads. iPhone app creators could target their ads to people who have “iPhone” in their profile and a relevant interest, for instance.
2) Interest Exclusion Targeting
Sometimes it’s as useful to be able to specify the people you don’t want to reach as it is the people you do. What if I want to target people who are Republicans, but aren’t interested in Glenn Beck? Or people in Boston who are interested in baseball, but don’t list the Red Sox as an interest? This is another simple way Facebook ads could be made a lot more relevant.
3) Target by Family Relationships
We can target by single, in a relationship, married, etc. Now that Facebook lets you set who your brother / sister / mother / uncle is, why can’t we target by that? How many women are tired of seeing ads targeting mothers just because they’re in a certain age range?
4) Save Targeting Sets
Advertisers combine many targeting options to try and define a specific audience. Long lists of interest keywords, age criteria, city combinations, education levels; it would be great if Facebook allowed advertisers to save these combinations with a custom label, instead of having to recreate them each time or copying an old ad as a starting point.
5) See Increase in Page Likes from Each Ad
As a page administrator running ads to my page, I can see how many ‘actions’ a specific ad generated, if it’s the kind that can be liked (liking the page as well). But if the user simply clicks an ad that takes them to my page, and Likes it there, I can’t see which ad is the source of those likes. It’s very possible that some ads generate many click-throughs, but few likes upon page arrival. I want to see which ads those are!
6) Automatic A/B Testing
Creating a bunch of ad variants to test title, image, and copy doesn’t take as much time as it could thanks to Facebook’s “Create Similar Ad” feature, but monitoring results, pausing and unpausing ads to make sure they get equal amounts of impressions, and narrowing down what’s working and what isn’t… is a tremendous time sink. I’d much rather give Facebook a set of titles, images, and copy to test, and have it auto-rotate through to discover the best combinations and report back to me.
Clearly there are some things that can’t be tested this way (titles referencing images, copy referencing titles, etc.), but a great deal of ads could use this kind of automatic testing. It would also be a great way to combat banner blindness, if after the best-forming combination started to decline in results, the second-best image/title combo automatically started getting used instead.
7) More Fan Info From Fan Insights
Pages provide a gender, age, location breakdown of fans. A few additional data points I’d find extremely useful are:
- common interests – what are the most common interests of my fans, as a group?
- most active times – when are my fans active on Facebook? when are my fans active on my page?
- most active fans – which fans are most often liking, commenting, and sharing my content?
- # of shares – how often is my content being ‘Shared’? Which content?
- photo / video views – which of my albums / photos / videos gets viewed most often?
The better page administrators can understand their fans, the more engaged they can keep them.
Better Ad System = Better Results for Advertisers = More Money for Facebook
Many might suggest that providing better tools for advertisers and reducing the waste in their ad spend would mean less money for Facebook. I’d suggest that by providing better results to advertisers, they’ll not only see more spending from those advertisers in the future, but more advertisers deciding Facebook is worth looking into after all.