December 28, 2015

How My Facebook Carousel Ad Performed

facebook advertisingBefore the holiday we were talking about some of the pros and cons of Facebook’s carousel ads so, as I like to do, I decided to experiment with them and let you know the results as that may help you determine whether or not they’re right for your business.

The Details

As this was an experiment, I decided to run an ad for 3 days with a  total of $125 allocated to the advertising budget.  The ad was dedicated to trying to get more people to know about Portland State University’s Business of Artisan Food online course that starts in January.

When creating a carousel ad, you have the ability to add 3-5 images and corresponding text to each page.  This process took much longer than I anticipated though the fault was on my end.  First and foremost, I had to think through exactly what the key benefits were that I wanted to convey and then how best to do that.  The images in the carousel ads take up the majority of ‘ad’ so the pictures I chose needed to be impactful and speak to the audience I was trying to attract.  While Facebook does allow for a bit of text to go with each image, the amount of characters you can use is very limited so I had to think through how best to clearly and concisely convey those benefits.

One nice characteristic of the carousel ads is that you can add Call To Action buttons to each image within the carousel ad so I was able to place a prominent ‘Learn More’ button on each page of the carousel ad that linked out to the course information and registration.

Once the actual ad was created, the rest of the set-up was similar to anything you may have experienced before when creating a Facebook ad.   I set up my demographics, narrowing down to US residents within certain age groups, and specified further that my ad should be shown to people who are not followers of the Small Food Business Facebook page already but who have shown interest in food and/or small business based on their prior Facebook activity.   Lastly, I also set up the ad to run across the combined Facebook and Instagram platforms as I was interested to see how it performed in both channels.

The Results

Based on the results provided by Facebook’s Ads Manager, my ad had 18, 663 impressions but – more importantly – had 279 clicks on the “Learn More” button.  Of those, 253 were unique visitors so that was 253 people who knew nothing of Small Food Business and may have been hearing about the course for the first time.  I did end up spending $124.16 so maxed out the budget I’d allocated so that breaks down to approximately $.45 per click (or $.49 per unique click).

For a numbers geek like myself, it was interesting to see how the demographics broke down for the ad:

  • 0 clicks came from Instagram
  • 7 clicks came from Facebook viewers on desktops
  • 122 clicks came from Facebook viewers on mobile devices
  • 146 clicks came from Facebook’s Audience Network  (more on this in a few days)
  • 1 click came from right-column ads within Facebook

In part, I can see how my ad – which is more business-focused, may not play as well on Instagram as perhaps a typical food business’ might.  Or, this may be indicative of the fact that Instagram’s audience is not ready for and/or not accepting of advertising on that platform.   The numbers above also illustrated to me what most of us probably already know – that these days everyone is on their mobile devices which means that you need to make sure that the site you are linking out to is mobile responsive.  Like most small business owners, I would hate to spend the money on an ad trying to drive people to a  site that they can’t see on their mobile devices.

Other results showed that the ago demographics was pretty evenly split between the 25-34, 35-44, and 45-54 year olds and, interesting to me, it was almost an even 50% split male/female within those age groups.

The biggest question of all, of course, is did the 279 clicks actually convert into class registrants?  The answer is yes, a percentage of those did.  Because I work with Portland State University for this program, I am not at liberty to share the exact details of our conversion rate, but in this experiment, the $125 allocated to the ads did more than pay for itself.

The Takeaway

Overall, personally, this carousel ads experiment achieved their intended goal.  Done right, pictures do tell a very powerful story and the ability to include several images within one ad can help convey the message you hope to the audience you hope.  Granted, the business I was ‘selling’ via this ad is different from a typical food product, but my gut says that this ad format could be even more powerful with great food photographs and the right targeting.    So as to not sound as though this is an advertisement for Facebook, there has in the past been plenty of questions about the effectiveness of Facebook advertising and the validity of the ‘clickers.’   If you’re not familiar with some of the controversy around advertising on Facebook, check out this article from 2014.

*As a reminder, no payment of any kind was received for this post and this advertising experiment was run with my own business dollars.

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