Get The Most From Facebook’s Sponsored Results

You might have noticed, when searching on Facebook for a brand page, that other related companies show up in the search results. Facebook last month rolled out sponsored results as a new way for advertisers to get more bang for their buck, and so far, it’s working pretty well.

Do a search for “facebook marketing” on Facebook, and you’ll see our ad.

Facebook rolled out sponsored results one month ago, for those with ads application-programming interface or power editor access. Here are some of the basics you need to know about this new feature:

  • The performance is stupidly good: Click-through rates are in the range of 3 percent to 10 percent, and cost per click is between 1 cent and 10 cents. Thus, you’re getting the same CTR as newsfeed or mobile ads, but paying the price of marketplace traffic — those seven ads on the right side that might command CPMs (cost per thousand views) of 60 cents to $1, depending on your targeting.
  • You can pretty much forget about interest targeting: The volumes are so small that if you filter down further by gender, location, or whatever else, you won’t have any traffic left. With search, you’re only showing up when someone types in that page, as opposed to whether they’re a fan or just talking about it in their status. Even with all of these search terms, called “targeted entities,” that in total have a couple of million fans between them, you are only reaching 4,220 people in this example.

  • Brand bidding is nice: If you’re Coke, you bid on Pepsi. But you could also bid on any product or brand that is related — McDonald’s french fries, the local sports team, music videos, or something completely irrelevant. For example, you could set up a script to automatically geotarget any city that is over 90 degrees today, then choose the biggest search targets, related or not. Show your 70-character message of “Hot in <city_name>? How about some refreshment!”
  • Perfect for the small guys: If you’re a small brand, you can bid on the well-known brand. It’s a David and Goliath strategy. Just be aware that people who search in that box are actually navigating, so your message better be persuasively distracting. I wouldn’t necessarily mention your competitor. Likewise, if you’re the big guy, you better bid on your own name to protect it, right?
  • 70 characters of awesome: Make sure it’s related to the search term. Ask a question. Choose your default landing page — perhaps your email registration page that has your re-argeting code on it (for those at advanced levels of sneakiness). Create one ad per target, since creating 100 ads is as easy as copy and paste in power editor. Why not?
  • Bid high: Or just choose “optimized CPM,” which lets Facebook guess what is enough to get the spot. It doesn’t really matter, since right now, CTRs are super-high for the novelty factor and because few advertisers are using it. You’re likely to be in the first spot. You’re going to get clicks for pennies. If you’re not getting traffic for 90 percent off, tell me, since you’re doing something wrong.

Troubleshooting mess-ups:

  • Maybe your profile image isn’t easily recognizable. Some brands like to change out their icon every couple of days, which makes them hard to recognize. Change your timeline cover, not your profile pic (which should be 160 x 160, by the way).
  • Not getting much traffic? Then you’re probably being overly narrow in your targeting. Expect a page with 100,000 fans to generate only a couple of dozen clicks a day. Probably a better estimate is people talking about this, since there are some pages that have a ton of fans, but low engagement.  Coke has 50 million fans, sure, but it has only 997,000 people talking about it (2 percent), of which only a portion will search for Coke. Of course, Scottrade and AMEX are right there to greet you. Not sure what sugar water has to do with credit cards and stock markets, but sure!
  • If your page traffic is decreasing, better check to see to see if someone is siphoning it off.

I’m going to regret giving away this tip: For the really clever advertisers out there, do this: Bid on the largest irrelevant brands, but use workplace targets to make sure you’re reaching the right audience. Anyone here in B2B listening here? This is basically re-marketing, but against someone else’s list, and for pennies. See, it doesn’t matter what that person is searching on at the moment, as long as you know they work for Facebook, work for some company you’re really like to land as a client, or have a particular job title that defines a good lead.

Facebook should rename sponsored results as “brand bidding,” since it really is direct warfare. Do you believe there will be escalation here — to do unto others before they do unto you?  Do you believe this will ignite ad revenues and a sagging stock price?

What if Facebook Ad Exchange and email upload targeting could find their way into search ads? What if you were looking at a bra on the Lane Bryant website, abandoned your cart, went to Facebook, and then saw a “Hey, you didn’t finish checking out, so here’s 10 percent off” message?

Readers: Tell us what you think.

Dennis Yu has helped brands grow and measure their Facebook presences. He has spoken at Search Marketing Expo, Search Engine Strategies, Web 2.0, The American Marketing Association, PubCon, Conversational Commerce Conference, Pacific Conferences, HostingCon, Affiliate Summit, Affiliate Convention, UltraLight Startups, MIVA Merchant, and other venues. Yu has also counseled the Federal Trade Commission on privacy issues for social networks. Yu has held leadership positions at Yahoo and American Airlines. His educational background is finance and economics from Southern Methodist University and London School of Economics.

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