Facebook rolling out changes to its Advertising services

At Donordigital, we manage Facebook Advertising projects for several of our clients. In early June 2013, Facebook announced plans to streamline the number of advertising units from 27 to fewer than half of that, and they’ll be rolling out these changes over the next five months. Let’s look at the current landscape of Facebook Advertising, while touching on anticipated changes, and how it might impact nonprofits using Facebook.

Currently, Facebook Advertising belongs to one of two categories: Ads or Sponsored stories.

Ads – Voice of the organization

For Facebook ads in this category, you as a nonprofit advertiser are in full control of all creative elements of the ad. This means you control the title of the ad, the imagery and any text that goes with it. The two most common distinct formats for ads are:

  • Standard ads: A standard ad is the traditional Facebook ad you find on the right hand side across the site on dedicated ad placements on Facebook. That means the right-hand side of the Facebook homepage, events, pages, user profiles, apps and next to photos in photo albums. Standard ads pointing to Facebook Pages are also eligible to show in the News feed on desktop and mobile devices.
  • Page post ads: Page post ads are Facebook page posts that are promoted in order to increase their reach. Due to their nature, they are eligible to show on all Facebook placements. This includes the News Feed on both mobile and desktop. Turning a page post into a page post ad by promoting it doesn’t change the original post in terms of appearance – only in terms of distribution. This means that Facebook users interact with a page post ad the same way they would with an unsponsored page post.

Sponsored stories – Voice of a friend

With sponsored stories, each time someone interacts with one of your Facebook entities a story is created. The content of the story can be that someone likes your page or one of our page posts, uses your app or is going to your event – to name a few. You could say a person’s action becomes a recommendation rather than an ad. For nonprofits, sponsored stories can be a powerful marketing message, since it shows a friend interacting with your content, which can be a big influencer. One big change expected in the next few months: sponsored stories will essentially disappear as a separate ad unit. Instead, these social context elements will be rolled into Ads, such as page post ads.

Custom Audiences

Another recent addition to Facebook Advertising is the introduction of Custom Audiences. This service allows you to target your ads at people for whom you have email addresses. The Custom Audience tool will match up people on your list to their Facebook profiles based on email address, Facebook user ID or phone number; however, email address will most likely be the record information you will be using for the match. We’ve seen this used very effectively in multi-channel campaigns, whereby nonprofits can target people on Facebook that have received solicitations in the mail, assuming you have their email address in their constituent record. The Custom Audiences tool is accessed through the Power Editor, which is found in the Facebook Ads Manager. List files need to be the CSV or TXT format. Once uploaded, this list will be saved and can be used as a target audience for your next Facebook ad campaign (or can even be used as an exclusion audience!).

Laura Domingo is an Account Executive at Donordigital, the online fundraising, marketing, and advertising company.