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3 Ways to Boost the Performance of Your Facebook Ads



When you consider the rapid adaptation of technology over time, you would expect that another social media platform would have risen up and taken the mantle in recent years, but Facebook, the looming giant in the space, has remained the most stable and powerful, seeing off all challengers thus far.

According to Sprout Social’s ‘2020 critical social media stats’, 89% of marketers now use Facebook as their primary ad platform, while 83% of consumers regularly log into the app. The alignment here makes sense, businesses will go wherever the audience is, and no platform has a larger audience right now.

But reach and resonance are not connected – just because you can reach more people on Facebook, that doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to make them stop as they scroll by and tap of click on your ad. For that, you need to establish effective targeting, you need to understand your audience and what they’re looking for, and you need to align your ad presentation with their preferences.

That takes work – but if you’re looking for some key tips in improving the performance of your Facebook ads, check out these pointers and tools. 

1. Build Effective Retargeting Campaigns on Facebook

Reaching out to old customers, or those who’ve almost become your customers (i.e. expressed interest in your brand but never converted), is one of the most effective ways to boost your Facebook campaign performance.

Both Facebook and Google enable you to optimize your campaign performance based on specific interactions (i.e. events) which occur on your site. Event tracking requires some basic coding knowledge, as you need to insert relevant code parameters on your site.

Oribi is an easy to use analytics tool that makes event tracking and implemention easy. Basically, Oribi will export your designated event data into Facebook automatically for you to then use in optimizing your campaigns.

Oribi export evnts

It can be an extremely useful tool for small business owners and startups that can’t afford to buy conversion optimization services, or have limited knowledge of event tracking and coding.

Moreover, by seeing which customers are converting, and where they’re coming from, you’ll find it much easier to customize your campaigns, and get better results. I saw a boost in my engagement right away, without having to rely on more complex and expensive analytics platforms. 

2. Start Excluding

Everyone who’s conducted even a starter campaign on Facebook would be aware of the exclusion and focus options in Facebook’s ad targeting tools. I was surprised to find through my own research that many people – even more advanced users who’ve been using Facebook ads for years – are not using them.

In a way, I understand the impulse to include as much of your target demographic as possible – after all, just having that audience in mind has already created a bubble to build on. Why would you need another one?

But social media ads are different than other media options. The more your audience sees them, in many cases, the less likely they are to follow the links.

Why is that? Because social media is a place to scroll and respond in the moment. Because we often buy or click on a whim, much more than if they were discovering a product from a storefront or dedicated search. This is obviously not the case on sites like Pinterest, where building lasting boards is the point, but Facebook is somewhere you go to react and share, not to curate.

This applies to Facebook ad exclusions, because you can use them to avoid over-exposure to people who, for example, have already purchased your product, or have been in direct contact with your brand. So if someone were to like your page, they can get updates there rather than be bombarded with ads every time they log in.

Here’s a detailed guide on how to exclude audiences on Facebook, and who you may want to prevent from seeing your ads.

Exclude audiences

3. Get Your Customers Involved

Testimonials in ads are nice, but they fail to catch anywhere near the power of direct user to user engagement.

You can customize your calls to action to reflect the platform by asking customers to review the product directly on the thread where they discovered it.

Not too long ago, I ordered a semi-permanent hair dye from a Facebook ad. I received a message from a customer service rep in Messenger shortly after, asking if I would be willing to provide photos of my hair, and a short review in a linked ad. In exchange, they would send me a free bottle of the same or any other color of my choice.

I really liked this approach. First of all, it’s a great way of facilitating word of mouth, and instilling trust by adding authenticity to a testimonial. Second, it works well with the product – it’s a hair dye that needs to be refreshed within a couple of weeks, and it gave me the option of either opting for the same color, or trying another one. This also helped to build a relationship with me, as a customer, as it gave me the opportunity to become more reliant on the product.

But what impressed me most about this approach was the eventual results. I accepted their offer, and took two photos of the finished product once I had received it. I wrote a couple of sentences about how my hair felt and how easy it was to use. A week later, I had my free bottle in hand, virtually guaranteeing that I’ll use it again. My testimonial got more than thousand likes, and generated a lot of engagement, with both me and the brand itself, where they were able to answer questions, and plenty of people said they had just bought their own, were about to, or were tagging others who would also be interested.

Proof of concept, right there on the page.

As noted, utilizing advanced targeting, and understanding your audience, is key to maximizing your Facebook ads approach. Yes, you can reach millions of people on the platform, but no one will case if your ad is too generic, your audience is too broad, and/or they can’t relate to the advertised product.

These tips will help you address all of these key issues.


Google Outlines Ongoing Efforts to Combat China-Based Influence Operations Targeting Social Apps



Google Outlines Ongoing Efforts to Combat China-Based Influence Operations Targeting Social Apps

Over the past year, Google has repeatedly noted that a China-based group has been looking to use YouTube, in particular, to influence western audiences, by building various channels in the app, then seeding them with pro-China content.

There’s limited info available on the full origins or intentions of the group, but today, Google has published a new overview of its ongoing efforts to combat the initiative, called DRAGONBRIDGE.

As explained by Google:

In 2022, Google disrupted over 50,000 instances of DRAGONBRIDGE activity across YouTube, Blogger, and AdSense, reflecting our continued focus on this actor and success in scaling our detection efforts across Google products. We have terminated over 100,000 DRAGONBRIDGE accounts in the IO network’s lifetime.

As you can see in this chart, DRAGONBRIDGE is by far the most prolific source of coordinated information operations that Google has detected over the past year, while Google also notes that it’s been able to disrupt most of the project’s attempted influence, by snuffing out its content before it gets seen.


Worth noting the scale too – as Google notes, DRAGONBRIDGE has created more than 100,000 accounts, which includes tens of thousands of YouTube channels. Not individual videos, entire channels in the app, which is a huge amount of work, and content, that this group is producing.

That can’t be cheap, or easy to keep running. So they must be doing it for a reason.

The broader implication, which has been noted by various other publications and analysts, is that DRAGONBRIDGE is potentially being supported by the Chinese Government, as part of a broader effort to influence foreign policy approaches via social media apps. 

Which, at this kind of scale, is a concern, while DRAGONBRIDGE has also targeted Facebook and Twitter as well, at different times, and it could be that their efforts on those platforms are also reaching similar activity levels, and may not have been detected as yet.

Which then also relates to TikTok, a Chinese-owned app that now has massive influence over younger audiences in western nations. If programs like this are already in effect, it stands to reason that TikTok is also likely a key candidate for boosting the same, which remains a key concern among regulators and officials in many nations.

The US Government is reportedly weighing a full TikTok ban, and if that happens, you can bet that many other nations will follow suit. Many government organizations are also banning TikTok on official devices, based on advice from security experts, and with programs like DRAGONBRIDGE also running, it does seem like Chinese-based groups are actively operating influence and manipulation programs in foreign nations.

Which seems like a significant issue, and while Google is seemingly catching most of these channels before they have an impact, it also seems likely that this is only one element of a larger push.

Hopefully, through collective action, the impact of such can be limited – but for TikTok, which still reports to Chinese ownership, it’s another element that could raise further questions and scrutiny.

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The Drum | Trump’s Instagram & Facebook Reinstatement Won’t Cause Marketers To Riot Yet, Experts Say



The Drum | Trump's Instagram & Facebook Reinstatement Won’t Cause Marketers To Riot Yet, Experts Say

While the reinstatement of Donald Trump’s Twitter account in November had some advertisers packing up in protest, many will strike a different tune with Meta-owned Facebook and Instagram, experts predict.

Meta Wednesday announced that it’s lifting the ban on a handful of Facebook and Instagram accounts, including that of former US president Donald Trump – who was suspended nearly two years ago following the January 6, 2021 riots at the Capitol.

In a blog post yesterday, Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, explained the reasons for the company’s decision, saying that it “evaluated the current environment” as it pertains to the socio-political landscape and security concerns and determined that “risk has sufficiently receded.” As a result, the company will welcome Trump back onto Facebook and Instagram.

The former president will be expected to comply with Meta’s user policies, but, considering his past violations, will face “heightened penalties for repeat offenses,” Clegg explained.

While it’s unclear whether Trump will become an active user on either platform following the decision, media and marketing experts are already sounding alarm bells at his potential return.

In particular, experts are cautious considering recent developments at Twitter. Elon Musk’s turbulent takeover – which has included mass layoffs, dramatic platform changes and the decision to reinstate the accounts of controversial figures like Trump and Kanye West (whose account has since been re-suspended) – has led to an exodus of advertisers. Could Meta’s decision to reintroduce Trump invite a similar fate?

‘Fear, frustration and protest’ could catalyze drawback

Concerns regarding brand safety and suitability on Facebook and Instagram are piquing among marketers. Trump’s presence on social media has long proven to exacerbate the spread of misinformation online. The risks of a potential recession, paired with new political tensions spurred by the 2022 midterms and the anticipation of the 2024 presidential election, may only up the ante.

“Misinformation on Meta’s platforms was an issue prior to Trump’s ban, during the ban and will likely continue to be an issue, even with the new [policies that] Meta has put in place,” says Laura Ries, group director of media and connections at IPG-owned ad agency R/GA. In light of this fact, Ries says, “Advertisers will need to continue to consider the type of content they’ll show up next to when evaluating whether or not to advertise on the platforms, especially as we march toward the 2024 election.”

She predicts that Meta may see some advertisers leave Facebook and Instagram “out of fear, frustration or protest.”

Others agree. “I suspect advertisers will not be pleased with this move and might make reductions in spend as they have done with Twitter,” says Tim Lim, a political strategist, PR consultant and partner at creative agency The Hooligans.

Although some advertisers are sure to pull back or cut their investments, the number will likely be low – largely because the scale and reach promised by both Facebook and Instagram will make it hard for most advertisers to quit. Smaller brands and startups in particular often rely heavily on Meta’s advertising business to spur growth, says Ries.

A ripple, not a wave

Most industry leaders believe Trump’s reinstatement won’t cause anything more than a ripple in the advertising industry. “Marketers who advertise on Facebook and Instagram care about their own problems, which generally [entail] selling more products and services,” says Joe Pulizzi, an entrepreneur, podcaster and author of various marketing books. “If Meta helps them do that, they don’t care one bit about brand safety – unless this blows up into a big political issue again. It might not, so marketers won’t do a thing.”

The sentiment is underscored by Dr Karen Freberg, a professor of strategic communications at University of Louisville, who says: “Facebook and Instagram are key fundamental platforms for advertisers. Marketers may … be aware of the news, but I am not sure if it will make a drastic change for the industry.” She points out that Twitter’s decision to lift the ban on Trump’s account in November caused such a big stir among marketers advertisers that Meta’s decision to do the same may come as less of a shock.

Trump’s return may even benefit Meta’s ads business by giving the company new opportunities to serve ads to Trump devotees, says Pulizzi. Ultimately, he says, Meta “needs personalities like Trump,” who, whether through love or hate, inspire higher engagement. “With Facebook plateauing and Instagram now chasing – and copying – TikTok at every turn, Trump’s follower base is important to Meta, which is hard to believe, but I think it’s true.”

But while some users may be energized by the former president’s return to Meta platforms, others may be outraged – even to the point of quitting Facebook and Instagram, points out Ries. In this case, she says, “advertisers will need to follow them to TikTok, Snap or other platforms where they’re spending their newfound time.”

R/GA, for its part, which services major brands including Google, Samsung, Verizon and Slack, will work on “a client by client basis” to address concerns about Facebook, Instagram or any other platform, says Ries. “R/GA recommended pausing activity on Facebook and Instagram after the insurrection and won’t hesitate to do so again if another incident occurs.”

For more, sign up for The Drum’s daily US newsletter here.

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Snap Launches New Ad Campaign to Showcase its AR Offerings



Snap Launches New Ad Campaign to Showcase its AR Offerings

Snapchat has launched a new promotional campaign which leans into the uniqueness of its viral AR trends, with a showcase of bizarre effects, as a means to present people with a different perspective on the real world.

Pretty trippy, huh?

As explained by Snap:

At Snap, we celebrate the joy, irreverence, and spontaneity of communicating with your real friends in fun, unexpected ways. Over the years, we’ve pushed the boundaries of how people see and experience the world through augmented reality. AR makes conversations and experiences better, and unlocks new ways to connect with others, learn about the world, shop, and more. [Our new campaign] shows you what it’s like to see the world the way Snapchatters do.”

It’s pretty weird, but will that get more people using Snap?

Certainly, the campaign will grab attention, and with 72% of active Snapchat users already engaging with AR elements in the app every day, there’s clearly a lot of interest in these types of weirdo activations that provide a new way of seeing the familiar.

Maybe that’ll prove to be a good lure to get people into the app, and broaden its user base. I mean, at the least, it’ll spark intrigue, which will likely get at least a few more people downloading the app to see what they can do.

AR is a key focus for Snap, and despite operating at a much smaller scale than Meta and Apple, which are both also investing big in AR projects, Snap has continued to punch above its wait in this area, by continually coming out with AR content that grabs attention, and engages audiences.

Meta is still struggling to maintain relevance with younger audiences, a key element that could de-rail its metaverse vision, while Apple has actually leaned on Snap to help showcase its advanced AR tools over time.

If nothing else, Snapchat has its finger on the pulse, which is why virtually every AR trend – from anime filters to baby faces, from crying faces to vomiting rainbows – all of these have originated from Snapchat, and that’s remained consistent over time, even with newer platforms like TikTok entering the same realm.

Snap is very in-tune with its user base, which is also why its Snapchat+ subscription offering is already doing better than Twitter Blue, even with the addition of tweet editing verification ticks (Snapchat+ has over 1.5 million paying subscribers, versus an estimated 325k for Twitter Blue).

That community sense has helped Snap maintain growth and relevance. But it also needs to expand – and maybe, through a bizarre showcase like this, that could help to make more people aware of the things that they can do in the app.

And this is how Snapchat Lenses tend to be shared. Somebody uses it, then they just have to show their friends.

In this respect, it seems like a good initiative, which could help Snap spark more interest and engagement.

It also serves as a demo of scanning in the Snap camera – if you want to try out any of the Lenses featured in the ad, you can scan the screen in the Snap camera, which will then open up whichever Lens is featured at that moment.

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