Stellar Creatives Make a Comeback
Potential customers attention spans are low, and rightly so these days. Abundant levels of advertising volume (Facebook ads) cause users to protect their time and attention, saving it only for more exceptional things that connect with them swiftly. Burning more advertising dollars at more impressions will never solve that problem, which leaves a lot of brands putting their marketing budget under a microscope in 2019. So, are Facebook ads the best bang for your buck?
What is already occurring is a doubling back of sorts to a more creative emphasis. While no marketer has ever questioned the importance of creative, paid social was fresh and new, so not as much thought had to go into things.
Marketers are flustered things that worked six months ago no longer do, but that effort needs to be put into looking forward, not clinging hopelessly to old ways. More budget needs to be allocated to developing a smart creative because it is not a sunk cost. Improved, more intelligent creatives means spending more on the creative strategy, and less budget on media using methods that that won’t work because they’re stale. Invest more up front for more efficient spending once the ad is live.
Facebook’s Ads Faltering and Failing
Another evolution: some startling blunders by Facebook for its ads platform are driving marketers to diversify their ad budgets.
The unpredictability of Ads Manager is testing the confidence of media managers, to say nothing of Facebook’s external-facing company issues. Advertisers are looking to move funds to other outlets. Most haven’t because there is no substitute with Facebook’s ad volume. Don’t be mistaken, it’s not because they feel loyal to the platform. This may spell trouble for Facebook as places like Pinterest and Twitter continue to evolve and mature.
The consumer attention span mentioned previously is also an issue for marketers coming up against users who are oblivious to most ads in an environment with already oversaturated ad inventory. While Facebook frantically scrambles to try new ad placement types for inventory expansion, advertisers are largely disappointed in them. Even the handful of successful offerings aren’t large enough for the scale that would fulfill advertiser-side demand.
Attribution Tides Are Turning
As the paid social avenues such as Facebooks ads have evolved, expanded and stumbled, there’s a growing recognition among advertisers about the jeopardy of relying on last-click attribution. When these tried-and-true methods are unsuccessful, there is no safety net. Media budgets are getting torched with no backup plan and an over-reliance on shortsighted portals of attribution.
Advertisers are increasingly getting savvier about the customer journey, however. The last-click contagion that was largely kickstarted by paid search being the main avenue of spend for many advertisers is dwindling. An increasing awareness that users exist and pass among multiple touch points daily, weekly and monthly is compelling brands to focus on driving awareness of something they can own: their own name.
This also correlates with the rise of Amazon’s domination of the e-commerce marketplace. Advertisers are feeling the sting of smaller margins, and the financial investment required to advertise against Amazon to try and keep users on their platform. Realizing this reality, advertisers are slowly shifting to diverting funds back to brand awareness and I believe they will continue to do so.
Take This Into Consideration
The money spent on improving brand awareness secures real estate in a user’s mind for a length of time to come versus the quick hit of the sale. It’s a longer-term play, but it’s the one that shields against platforms you can’t outsell. Analyzing things like direct traffic growth and brand search growth through your media efforts may prove to be a formidable place for your media budget if competing directly against platforms like Amazon leave margins too minuscule to be worth it.
Facebook ads aren’t the end all, be all. Accept the reality of it, and alter if possible. Brand awareness CPMs tend to be cheaper than conversion-focused bidding models. This isn’t to say advertisers should desert hope, but rather plan for your spend to not be 100 percent on lead acquisition as in the past. Diverting a percentage of ad spend for brand-based awareness is an intelligent strategy in regards to third-party platform sales, helping offset the sometimes preposterously exorbitant costs paid for a quick sale.
Never a Dull Moment, So Sharpen Your Axe
As specific tactics progress the point of maturation, paid social remains in its infancy. Facebook has been a at the forefront, but the cracks are starting to rear their ugly head. Their strangle hold on advertiser loyalty driven by their reliability and results is flimsy, at best. Whether it’s growth that wasn’t managed well or sheer ego, it’s forcing advertisers to remember nothing is promised in this industry and constant reevaluation on their practices is pivotal in today’s environment.
Invest in your building your brand and your creatives in 2019. If you find Facebook ads are failing you (which a rising number of advertisers are) it’s time to divert that money and test elsewhere. Keep in mind that successful tests may not be measured by quick hits like they were, and open your eyes to the longer-term plays so you can plan accordingly for them.