Avoiding the Facebook "Adpocalypse:" 3 Secrets to Ramping Up Traffic While Lowering Acquisition Costs

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THE DAYS OF CHEAP CLICKS AND AMATEUR AD BUYERS ON FACEBOOK ARE ENDING... AND IF YOU HAVEN'T REALIZED THAT YET, YOU WILL SOON ENOUGH.

"Yeah, it's great! You only have to pay when someone clicks on your ad. Best thing ever."

My friend was explaining to me back in 2005 how this whole "Pay-Per-Click" model worked, and I thought it was the greatest thing ever. "You pay just for results. How cool is that," I thought. Back in the early days of Adwords (and Overture for the old school folks), things were quite different...

Cheap clicks were abundant... and wonderful!

At that time, if we were running a campaign for a somewhat competitive term, we would complain about how ridiculous a .50 CPC was. And a $1 a click?

Pure insanity... at least that's what we thought at the time.

Now those same terms are running around $8 - $10 a click. So, what happened? In the wonderful world of ad auction bidding, the more people that bid, the higher the cost-per-click will be.

 

The World of Ad Auctions

 

Since Adwords uses an auction system, the more people that want those revenue generating keywords, the higher your cost will be. And just as competition raised click costs at Adwords, it does the same thing everywhere else, including Facebook.

But instead of bidding on keywords, with Facebook, you're bidding on space in someone's News Feed.

Facebook advertising has exploded in popularity because of its "simplicity" to use and its ability to target almost anyone. You want to go after men, age 30 - 50, that make between $75k - $250k a year, who enjoy Kanye West and purchase healthy organic products...

...they've got you covered.

Many companies are making a fortune running their ads on Facebook, and that'll continue for a long time.

And, best of all, they forced the mighty Google to step up its game, which has benefited all advertisers.

Today, Facebook still stands as one of the best advertising platforms on the web.

 

Not All Is Lovely In The Land Of Facebook...

 

The Facebook News Feed is beginning to age... it launched nearly 11 years ago, and ads have been part of it for 5 years.

Now, I'm not saying age is a bad thing (I just turned 40, so I hope not). What I am saying is that age can be one of many indicators on how competitive a market has become. Let's look at a few facts about Facebook ads.

  • Advertisements are shown to a fixed number of people (Facebook members) that match the demographics/interests

  • The News Feed has become (let's face it) a hot, cluttered mess with ads, making it more and more difficult to stand out (even with Facebooks targeting methods)

  • Because Facebook has to continue to try and limit ads in the News Feed (or risk annoying the hell out of their users), it forces them to restrict the ad inventory

  • Facebook uses an auction type of system for ad placement

  • Limited space + Increase in advertisers = Higher CPC's (which can lead to higher customer Cost-Per-Acquisition (CPA) costs).

 

According to Steve Carbone, managing director and chief digital and analytics officer at MediaCom, Facebook...

"...has driven revenues based on three factors—growing the user base, increasing time spent and adding more ads to each page—but its ability to add more and more advertisements to each page is beginning to slow. If this source of revenue declines, Facebook will have to ramp up the other two and reassess pricing."

Facebook is attempting to mitigate these concerns by testing different ad formats, such as expanding ad formats in the audience network, Messenger ads, Instagram stories, etc.

But, advertisers need to begin diversifying their ad spend, and stepping up their game on Facebook if they plan to stay profitable with paid media. Here are three things that can help.

 

3 Strategies To Increase Profitability With Paid Advertising

 

Native Advertising Strategy

 

1. Begin Using Native Advertising.

Yes, I know. Native advertising is not a "secret." But, for many people, using it successfully is.

If you're curious about why you should start moving into native ads, allow me to share a few stats:

  • Consumers look at native ads 53% more than banner ads*

  • Native ads have an average conversion rate of 4.5% and CTR of 0.2%*

  • Native ads register an 18% higher lift in purchase intent & a 9% lift for brand affinity response*

  • You can get high-quality clicks for under $0.30

The native advertising concept not new, it's been around since the early 20th century. The reason it's been around so long is it continues to work.

I remember as a kid finding these small "health magazines" around the house. My dad was big into learning about the latest and greatest health info, and these appeared to fit the bill.

However, these "magazines" were merely disguised advertisements... but there was a key difference...

They delivered real information... 

...so my dad and millions of others enjoyed checking out the content. He knew they were selling something, but because they contained helpful ideas, he would read them.

These type of ads are a powerful means of not only getting your message out to the masses, but having them engage with it.

 

Native Digital Ads Reach Over A Billion Monthly Users Globally.

 

If you're currently advertising on Facebook, then chances are, you've seen the fruits of native advertising.

Most people define "native advertising" as "content within a publication that resembles the publishers content, but advertisers pay for it."

Again using Facebook as an example, their newsfeed ads are "native ads" because they match the surrounding content, look and feel.

But, there has been some criticism of this type of ad format.

Some have said that native advertising is deceptive because it resembles "real content."

But, I have to say...

...they're wrong (for the most part). Good native advertising is about "content discovery" and adding value to the web.

 

 

It should not just resemble "real content," but be real content. Yes, there are native ad networks that allow for "deceitful" ads (pure clickbait)...

...but the quality networks are moving away from that, which is excellent news for most advertisers.

The key to successful native advertising is to contribute positively to the online discussion and provide valuable, informative content to your target audience. This isn't about blasting the web with ads; it's about giving potential customers what they want.

So, how do you give customers what they want from an advertising standpoint?

By providing valuable information, which most of the time comes through education.

The great marketer/sales trainer Chet Holmes once said,

"You will attract way more buyers if you are offering to teach them something of value to them than you will ever attract by simply trying to sell them your product or service."

By driving traffic to an advertorial that delivers value, you not only set yourself far above the competition, but you will generate more sales.

To begin using native advertising, you'll need to take your product and connect it with the right networks.

Not all products or offers work across the board, so make sure to do your homework.

The good news is you've got a lot of options to choose from... but to help you get started, here are 6 good networks (besides Facebook) to take a look at:

Taboola, Outbrain, RevContent, Twitter, Google Display Network (yes, it can be done), and Yahoo Gemini. They cover 99% of the high-quality traffic available on the web.


Native Ads ≠ Banner Ads

 

One of the challenges some of our clients experienced, before coming to us, was identifying agencies that understood the native ad space. Many generalist-type of digital agencies try to apply the same principles they've used in search and banner ad campaigns to native ads.

And guess what, not surprisingly, their strategy doesn't work...

Those agencies then say "native ads aren't right for your business, let's stick with Adwords search and Facebook ads," which the client then believes and puts native to the side.

But, when done right, native advertising can be a game changer for your business.

 

Best Practices for Running Native Ads

 

Simply knowing what to do is a big factor that prevents people from taking a stab at native advertising. To help you get started, here are a few strategies to make your "native ad journey" a profitable one.

  • Images "stop the scroll," headlines get the click.

Let's first talk about the ad image. One important note to remember is each native advertising network has their particular image guidelines so take the time to read them and then, of course, stay compliant.

Images should be clean (not cluttered) and without text. Try to make the images "pop" with high-contrast. Also, photos of people tend to be the most engaging, but I've seen stylized images of objects pull just as well.

Also, make sure the image is relevant to the ad text...

A crazy image may get the click, but your bounce rate will be through the roof. Remember, you not only want a good CTR (shoot for 0.25% and higher) but quality clicks.

Below are two examples of good native ads. Both have relevant images that "stop the scroll."

The Nugenix ad has an image of a man looking off to the side, which, not by coincidence, is where the headline is located. Data has shown we, humans, subconsciously follow where someone is looking... so this was a good choice.

The purple background on the Motley Fool ad works by creating contrast.

When working with ad text, remember the headline is what's going to get the click-through, so it's worth spending the time finding the right angle/hook. (Always keep in mind that the headline should match the landing page or risk high bounce rates.)

On what works for the headline...

Ask questions, be specific, use numbers, give it some urgency and make people feel there is something unique about what you're offering.

To give you a better idea, here are some examples of effective native ad headlines taken from real-world success:

  • Top 8 Credit Cards For Those With Excellent Credit
  • Second Wave of Marijuana Wealth Has Already Begun
  • 1 Worst Carb that Causes Weight Gain
  • GNC's #1 Testosterone Booster Baffles Men Over 50

As you can see, the headline doesn't have to be crazy, it just needs to appeal to your target market.

When it comes time for creating your landing page, certain networks (such as Outbrain) will require an advertorial type of page.

However, many don't and will allow you to send traffic directly to an offer.

But, if you can, I would recommend using an advertorial format for your pages whenever possible. Remember, it's about providing real value to the market.

Also, by educating your audience, you're eliminating sales resistance while providing a benefit at the same time.

If you're having any trouble getting your native ad campaigns going and have questions, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @ReachFire or visit our "contact us" page.

 

2. Get Your Retargeting Pixels In Place From Multiple Networks Before Running Traffic.

Would you send people to an opt-in form that can't capture the opt-in?

Of course not, that'd be ridiculous right? Well, when you're sending traffic to a site without having a plethora of retargeting pixels in place, you're doing the same type of thing.

A small part of our marketing methodology (Panoptic Stacking™) is to setup retargeting pixels across all the major advertising channels before we ever launch a campaign.

Most people will setup their retargeting pixel on the network in which they are currently advertising. But, they won't setup their pixels from networks they are currently NOT advertising on.

It doesn't matter if you are using a particular network right now or not, by following this strategy you're creating a highly valuable audience for future targeting.

Retargeting is one of the most valuable things you can do online...

It allows you to create "personalized" advertising.

Once you begin building that audience, you can further segment it by creating sub-targets, such as showing ads to people who have or have not performed certain actions on your site within a specific timeframe. This is extremely powerful stuff not to be taken lightly.

You spend thousands of dollars on getting eyeballs on your page, so how about you multiply your efforts by placing pixels from channels like Facebook, Twitter, Google, Taboola, Yahoo, Outbrain, etc. on your site. Once you do that, you can begin rolling out retargeting campaigns to build "omnipresence" and generate more conversions.

By building audiences across the networks, you can then leverage something powerful called "lookalike or similar audiences."

 

3. Use Lookalike Audiences With Layering.

The amount of data ad networks have on us is pretty incredible.

The tinfoil hat people are right... "they are watching us!" But the good news is it makes marketing to the right people so much easier.

Ad networks create what are called "lookalike" or "similar" audiences by evaluating who is coming to your site (all their characteristics, buying and clicking habits, purchase behavior, etc.) and compare that data to everyone else on the web.

When they see a match, ta-da! Your ad will then be shown.

This way of advertising can dramatically reduce costs and improve your overall CPA.

One common mistake people make is by not creating any filtering layers on top of the lookalike audience.

Keep in mind these audiences are not perfect, and because of that, you should place a filtering layer on that audience to "help" the networks find the right people. The filtering layer should match your ideal customer profile such as gender, demographic, income range, location, etc.

By building and layering a lookalike audience, you can generate some massive success online.

 

Concluding Thoughts

 

There are now quite a few options available to get eyeballs on your product/offer. Facebook advertising is still a great network to use (heck, we used it in this case study); however, it's important to begin diversifying your ad spend and maximizing what you currently have while it's still available.

Unfortunately, amateur hour is over. Too many large players with massive budgets are jumping in, and if you're not careful and know what you're doing, you could end up losing significantly.

However, the three strategies I shared can help lower your CPC and CPA, making your campaigns (or keeping them) lucrative.

If you are in the health or finance industry and have a proven funnel that converts, ReachFire will bring you thousands of leads and sales at a lower CPA using native advertising.  ReachFire offers a unique guarantee for the advertising industry: if they don't beat your current customer/lead acquisition cost, you won't owe them a dime. Schedule a consultation to see if they can help.

ABOUT JORDAN SWANSON

Jordan has been driving traffic online since 2005, and is the founder and president of ReachFire LLC, a native advertising agency. He's also happily married with 3 children and currently resides in Boston, MA.

ABOUT US

ReachFire LLC is a native advertising digital agency that focuses on driving traffic for clients in the health and financial space.

ReachFire uses a unique 3-step methodology called "Panoptic Stacking" to help maximize ROI for their clients.

ReachFire LLC © 2017, All Rights Reserved.

Quora’s Native Advertising Solution is Out of Beta and Available to Everyone | Social Media Today

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If you’re a social media marketer and you’re not familiar with Quora, it’s time to get up to speed.

Quora a highly addictive Q&A site that boasts a global audience of close to 200 million monthly users, and was featured previously as one of 56 vendors in The 2017 Social Media Native Advertising Landscape. It’s userbase is highly educated, too.

It’s known for the quality of its content and the insightfulness of its users. The community is relatively troll-free and is actively policed by its users. Users come to the site to ask questions and read reliable answers, which includes information about products, services, brands, competitors and industries.

Many of these queries and answers influence users during the consideration stage of their buyer’s journey.

Quora’s Native Advertising Solution is Out of Beta and Available to Everyone | Social Media Today

And now, Quora has launched it's own self-serve ad platform, which is available to all users. Quora first started testing ads last year, but only made the option available to select partners in beta. Now, anyone can give them a try - and they may well be worth consideration.

Reasons to Advertise Using Quora

Quora gives four main reasons (see below) brands should consider it for advertising. It should also be added that the variety of topics is immense, so targeting to the right audience at the right time should be easy for marketers.

  1. A large, engaged audience
  2. Only quality content
  3. High user intent
  4. Measurable results

How it Works According to Quora

  1. Create your account – You need a Quora profile account to get access to the Quora Ads Manager and start running ads. If you don't have an account, create one here.
  2. Create your ad copy and choose your audience – Choose a headline, description text, landing page URL and a call to action for your text ad. Target your ad by topic, platform or location.
  3. Set your budget and launch your campaign – Quora Ads runs off a CPC-based model that is powered by a real-time auction. Set your desired CPC bid and adjust the bid and budget at any time. Measure performance using our reporting.
  4. Only pay for results – Signing up for Quora ads is free. You only pay when someone clicks on your ad. You control how much you spend and you can adjust spend based on your needs.

Quora’s Native Advertising Solution is Out of Beta and Available to Everyone | Social Media Today

The companies that used Quora’s native advertising during beta range in industries from ecommerce, law, HR, SaaS and parenting.

Anne Halsall,  the co-founder of Winnie, says that “the conversion rate was 4-5 times higher than what we saw on other platforms.”

Quora’s native advertising solution represents another arrow in the quiver for brands to reach their target audience where they’re at, and on their terms. Initial results look impressive. As a Quora user myself, I plan on using this new offering as soon as possible and you can bet I’ll be sharing the results here – stay tuned.

http://www.socialmediatoday.com/smt-influencer/quoras-native-advertising-solution-out-beta-and-available-everyone

On - 28 May, 2017 By Chadpollitt

ABOUT JORDAN SWANSON

Jordan has been driving traffic online since 2005, and is the founder and president of ReachFire LLC, a native advertising agency. He's also happily married with 3 children and currently resides in Boston, MA.

For those of you who are still on the fence with native advertising, it’s time to come down. If generating high CTR’s and being able to bypass ad blockers (for the most part) aren’t motivating enough, then perhaps understanding this will be:
 
Native advertising is the future and the sooner you get on board with it, the further ahead you’ll be.
 
I found this article and thought it would be great to share. The author delivers some great insight into the different advertising roles and their relationship with native ads. As always, please leave us any comments or questions below!

We have a serious problem in content marketing and I’m going to point fingers today.

For the last several years, there’s been a steady drumbeat in our industry to be more strategic and to embrace content distribution. The latter seems to have been neglected due to corporate silos, budget misallocation, fear of trying something new, and other excuses.

It’s no secret why this drum beat exists. In fact, a major reason was highlighted on this very blog in January of 2014 – Content Shock.

I once asked an English friend why he invited so many Americans to present at his conference. He told me that Europeans believe that innovation travels on the jet stream and it starts in the US.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

That may or may not be true regarding technology, but when it comes to native advertising acceptance and execution for content distribution it’s far from true. My time in Europe has shown me that this region is much further ahead in the adoption of native advertising for content distribution.

In fact, I’ve even seen successful agencies that only do native advertising. Add to that, publishers are some of the leading sponsors at every content marketing event I attend. In the US, I’ve seen two publishers sponsor an event once … and I attend dozens a year.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. That means we (marketers), native ad tech, brands, publishers, thought leaders and media buyers are insane. That’s right. . . insane.

. . . and today I’m taking a stand. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. If any of the below descriptions sound familiar than this post is the water. I implore you to drink it. . .

For the marketers

Did you know that for every one dollar spent on creation, a television advertising executive spends five dollars on distribution?

Based on my research, content marketers spend one dollar on distribution for every five dollars they spend on creative. Nobody flinches when the TV guy walks in and asks for 5x to promote his creative, but content marketers are left begging the PPC/media buying team to please promote their content.

You can’t separate creative and distribution at the top of the funnel and expect to be successful.

These folks are really good at promoting mid to bottom-funnel content on those channels, but you can’t separate creative and distribution at the top of the funnel and expect to be successful. That’s why there’s so much native click-bait and false promises all over the web today. These people aren’t beholden to the same KPIs and metrics we care about, either.

Content marketers need their own distribution budgets and staff to execute. If not, then distribution should be as close to creative as possible.

For the native ad technologists

This group is partly to blame for the current situation we’re in, too. Most of the tools available today are built to serve media buyers, not content marketers. Most use the language of media buyers, display, and PPC folks. Their KPIs, for the most part, are devoid of anything we content marketers are interested in measuring or tracking.

We care about engagement, conversions, and subscriptions. Who cares about impressions and clicks on top-funnel content? If it’s not prompting engagement, it’s worthless. As Mark Schaefer wrote in The Content Code, the value of content that is not seen and shared is zero!

There are nearly 300 native advertising technology companies. It’s high time you start catering to marketers. We’re where your growth is going to come from.

Click on the infographic to view fullscreen

 Native Advertising Technology Landscape

Download high-resolution versions

2017 Native Advertising Technology Landscape Infographic (1200 dpi JPEG)

2017 Native Advertising Technology Landscape Infographic (PDF)

For content marketers, we need to embrace what we have available and stop being fearful of this technology and media buying foreign language. We need to fight for our budgets and educate ourselves.

It starts with understanding the native advertising landscape. That’s why we put this custom research together and plan on updating it annually. It’s not as complicated as you may think. Embrace it.

For the brands

Your legacy silos and misallocation of budgets are partly to blame for poor content performance. I had half a dozen folks come up to me at my Content Marketing World session and tell me they get it, but they can’t get any budget to do content distribution. It’s owned by the media buying team.

This must change. If the TV exec can walk out of an office with five times the creative budget for distribution of a commercial, why can’t a content marketer get some distribution budget? The silos created early last decade are largely to blame. With the focus of content creation moving up-funnel the budgets for distribution mostly remain down-funnel. This makes no sense and is still in place at most brands today.

For the publishers

Take some responsibility for this situation my publishing friends. Brands and marketers should be lined up begging to do long form native advertising with you. While many have indeed created internal agencies, or content studios, your value proposition is being sold by folks that talk impressions and clicks.

You can’t expect a person who’s been selling ad impressions for 15 years to adequately communicate the value of your new content studio.

You can’t expect a person who’s been selling ad impressions for 15 years to adequately communicate the value of your new content studio. You need to sell and market like a creative agency. Your prospects want engagement, subscribers, and conversions. When industry folks attend a content marketing event it should be packed full of publishers in the sponsorship hall. It’s not.

Publishers need to invest in the promotion of their content studios to content marketers in a bigger way. Especially in the US. You deliver value and you should be preaching it to everyone you can.

For the “thought leaders”

Many of the major content marketing initiatives conducted by brands today were influenced in some way by an industry thought leader. The problem is, many of these people are still preaching about what worked three years ago. Or longer.

This era of exploding content makes most traditional “owned” media strategies obsolete.

Unfortunately, this “build it and they will come” inbound marketing philosophy is extremely difficult to pull off today. It’s risky and expensive, depending on your industry. Last decade, many of these thought leaders flourished in a time of content deficits in our industry. They were working in unsaturated niches. Most mainstream industries today are in an era of content surpluses, AKA Content Shock.

This era of exploding content makes most traditional “owned” media strategies obsolete. Thought leaders can talk story-telling strategy and content quality until they’re blue in the face, but if that conversation doesn’t include earned and/or paid media for content distribution, they’re giving terrible advice for most of their customers.

For the media buyers

Whether you like it or not, your budgets are moving up-funnel. Facebook and the rest of the native ad tech landscape are making sure of that. With content creation aligning with the buyer’s journey and moving up-funnel for many brands, it’s just a matter of time until the paid channels of distribution do the same.

Native is the best-paid channel for top-funnel content. I predict much of its future growth will come from content marketers. According to a recent study by eMarketer, US native ad spend will make up nearly 53 percent of all digital display ad spending in the US this year. AdYouLike estimates that global native ad spending will surpass $59 billion in 2018.

To truly embrace these macroeconomic forces your KPIs must change. Media buying and creative must work more closely together to accomplish engagement and conversion goals. The wall between media buying and the content marketing team must come down for this to happen.

The good news is that we’re still in the infancy of what native advertising will become. Change can be difficult at first, but this is the channel of the future for our top funnel content. Whether the players I’ve mentioned embrace the change or not, they must be prepared for it if they wish to succeed.

This, in part, requires understanding and demystifying the native advertising technology landscape.

Start now. Hope you enjoyed your drink.

Chad PollittBy Chad Pollitt 
VP of Audience and Partner, Native Advertising Institute
Indianapolis, USA

This article originally appeared on Businessgrow.com and has been reprinted here with permission.