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Facebook will give academic researchers access to 2020 election ad targeting data

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Starting next month, Facebook will open up academic access to a dataset of 1.3 million political and social issue ads, including those that ran between August 3 and November 3, 2020 — Election Day in the U.S.

Facebook’s Ad Library, launched in 2019, offers a searchable database of all ads running on Facebook and Instagram. Implemented after the 2016 Russian election interference fiasco, the database allows researchers and reporters to drill down into ads by topic, company and candidate, displaying data about when an ad ran, who saw it and how much it cost.

Facebook says the decision to offer a deeper look into ads on the platform comes after feedback from the research community, which specifically requested more information about targeting. Facebook’s extremely granular ad targeting tools are of particular interest to researchers, who will soon have access to why certain people saw ads, including data on location and interest.

“We recognize that understanding the online political advertising landscape is key to protecting elections, and we know we can’t do it alone,” Facebook Product Manager Sarah Clark Schiff wrote in the announcement.

The company’s ad targeting systems have plunged the company into hot water in the past. In 2016, Facebook disabled a targeting option for “ethnic affinity” in credit, housing and employment-related ad categories following reporting on how those tools could be abused for illegal discrimination. In 2018, the company removed 5,000 additional ad targeting options due to similar potential for discriminatory advertising practices. And the extent to which the Trump campaign sailed into the White House on the strength of its micro-targeting Facebook ad operations is still a matter of debate.

Regardless of how you feel about the tools themselves, Facebook’s public-facing ad library has been invaluable tool for reporters, providing both issue-specific deep dives and an easy at-a-glance view of political spending by party, race and candidate. The new targeting data won’t live on the public Ad Library but will instead be limited to the Facebook Open Research & Transparency platform, which is only accessible by university-linked researchers.

TechCrunch

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5 Effective Ways to Run Facebook Ads A/B Tests

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Facebook Ads A/B Tests or split tests help them try different versions of ads with various campaign elements. This process helps them arrive at the best version for the organization’s target. 

A/B Tests offer a vast pool of resources to try out various versions. You may get caught up and lose your way to arriving at the best version in a limited time. To better understand this topic you can read the Facebook ad testing guide. Here are five effective ways to run Facebook Ads A/B Tests-

1) Start with the minimal number of variables

This approach will help you analyze the impact of a variable much better. The lesser the variables, the better will be the relevant results and more conclusive. Once you have various versions, you will need to run them through the A/B Significance Test to determine if the test results are valid.

2) The second way is to select the correct structure. 

There are two structures in A/B tests. One is a single ad test, and the other is multiple single variation ad sets. All the variations will go under one ad set in the first structure. Each variation will be under a separate ad set in the second one. Out of the two, the second one works out to be better and gives better results.

3) Use of spreadsheets is important to stay organized. 

These spreadsheets help collect and analyze data to get meaningful insights and arrive at data-backed decisions.

4) Do target advertising and set realistic time goals. 

One approach is to choose an entirely new set of audiences. Also, the data pool should be vast and not the same as some existing campaigns. The reason for choosing a different audience is that Facebook may mix up your ads and give contaminated output. 

Another approach to choosing the right audience is to pick geography. It works better, especially when you have business in a particular region.   

It’s also essential to set a realistic timeline for your testing. Facebook suggests one should run a test for at least four days, but you can choose to run the test for up to 30 days.   

5) Set an ideal budget. 

The concept of a perfect budget is subjective. But, you can fix it yourself, or Facebook can do that for you based on your testing data. A large part of the test budget is spent on avoiding audience duplication. If the same audience sees variations, it could affect the test results.

Besides these top five effective ideas, you will need to take a few more action points to make the testing process efficient. Make sure you put the website’s domain link and not the landing page link in the ad, as that doesn’t look good. Put appropriate Call To Action Button, such as ‘Learn More,’ ‘Buy Now,’ etc. It’s also important to see how your ad is coming across on various electronic gadgets- mobile, tablets, etc.

Another strategy that works is trying to engage the customer. You may add social engagement buttons such as ‘Like’ or ‘Comment.’ Use high-resolution images as they work better with the customers. Low-quality, highly edited images are often not liked and trusted by the consumers.

You can learn more about the audience behavior patterns with A/B test results. Conducting these tests on Facebook streamlines the entire process and makes it smooth for you. With the test results, advertisers and marketers can work on the creatives they need to utilize.

To sum it up, you can run an effective A/B test campaign within the specified budget. You don’t need to spend massive amounts to get your advertisement right. You’ll make the correct assumptions about the performance of variations with a good understanding of business and consumers.

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