Until Google+ introduces an ad platform that we aren’t automatically banned from, Facebook remains the go-to social network for self-serve advertising.
I seem to publish a new Facebook post every quarter, and with each time lapse comes the news that it just ain’t as easy as it used to be. I’ll save you the doomsday speech and get straight to the point. There’s still a lot of money to be made on Facebook, but the bidding process could easily convince you otherwise.
I’ve seen some suggested bid prices that resemble first class tickets to bankruptcy. Want to advertise to over 30s in Australia? That’ll be $1.50/click, says Facebook. You know you’ve been doing this shit for too long when you find yourself staring at a delicious Ginster sandwich in your local petrol station, and mentally equating it to the cost of two Australian housewives accidentally clicking your ad.
What make a successful Facebook bidding strategy in 2011? Christ, that’s not even contemporary enough, is it? What makes a good Facebook bidding strategy as of 6pm GMT on Monday the 11th July 2011?
I don’t have the inside scoop, but I can offer some perspective on what works for me.
Costs are going to continue to rise, artificially at least, so it’s important that we roll with the punches. If Facebook decides to raise their suggested bid prices, we have to follow suit if we want to lay claim to the same volume of clicks.
CTR is as important as it always was, and if you can score an excellent clickthrough rate, you will pay much less than your bid. This is the beating heart of what advertising on Facebook is all about. The confusion stems from where to start bidding, how to adjust as you go, and how to sustain the CTR.
I like to operate dual campaigns for whatever I’m promoting. This means I will create two campaigns for essentially the same offer, but changing the creatives for each. Fresh images and fresh headlines are my priorities, the actual ad text itself rarely makes a difference.
Assuming both campaigns have been tested and are pulling in good CTRs, I will run them alternately for a day each. This fights banner blindness and helps me to sustain each campaign a little longer. Facebook has been known to become a bigger bastard than usual if you attempt to resume a campaign that was already on the slide, grinding impressions to a halt. But personally, I’ve found this to be a non-issue as long as I keep pausing before the decline sets in.
I also like to create day-specific campaigns for my dating ads as another way of providing short term boosts to CTR that can also help to alleviate banner blindness. For example, “End Sunday With Her Phone Number” …followed by my buxom wench of choice, and a demand to register now before weekend registrations close.
As a general rule, I swear by lots of fresh high-CTR campaigns that I can alternate and switch out when necessary.
All this counts for nothing if you receive a grand total of 14 impressions, or spunk an entire budget on an hour’s worth of graveyard converting clicks. You’ve gotta know how to start the bidding, and in this regard, every affiliate has his own personal experience to draw conclusions from.
You can usually guarantee significant volume by bidding at the very bottom of the suggested bid range. So if Facebook is suggesting $1.11-$1.45, start your bidding at $1.11, and you should get plenty of clicks. For the overwhelming majority of CPA offers, Facebook’s initial suggested bids will prove utterly unsustainable. Over a dollar for a click to a dating offer paying out $5? On your bike, mon ami. You can tell the wife your summer vacation is cancelled at those rates.
However, and this is very important to consider, bidding at the bottom of the suggested margins gives you a window of opportunity to score a high CTR. If you can show Facebook that your ads are suitably click-friendly, the suggested bid margins will lower dramatically and your actual CPC will be a lot cheaper than what you tentatively opened the bidding with.
For affiliates promoting low-payout offers, the temptation is to scoop junk traffic by bidding way below the suggested price. It takes a certain quantity of steel in the balls to bid at 50% of your payout and still see profit on the horizon.
The problem with bidding significantly lower than the suggested price is that Facebook will only give you a very limited number of impressions, usually on lower quality pages, and if your CTR isn’t immediately impressive, that will be all she wrote. Unless your ad campaign puts the wowsers down your market’s trousers, it’s tough to sustain these types of campaigns.
There are some exceptions that I’ve noticed. Less saturated international markets and under 18 demographics are often easier to hit with low bids, presumably because the competition is lower.
I actually spoke to one affiliate who had the cunning plan of building an opt-in list of 17 year olds in the hope that he’d have a freshly plucked market of viable 18 year olds to send to dating offers in 12 months time. Scheming? Yes. Viable? No. Facebook does not appreciate the tactic, and I’m personally convinced that the dating advertisers would have harboured a few reservations about the quality of his leads too.
Full marks for creativity though.
Grooming for dating sites …the affiliate scumbag’s latest trick. Because no $5 registration is out of bounds!
If you’re wondering where CPM fits in to all of this, my opinion is that it doesn’t. Once upon a time, CPM was the most logical method of advertising on Facebook. Then Facebook decided that CPC campaigns should get first dibs on the best pages for ads – unofficially, but very noticeably – and the benefits in bidding CPM disappeared.
Some might argue that CPM still has a time and a place. Yeah, sure. For heavyweight brands who want their message on the page and don’t actually care about attracting clicks. There are similar exceptions for international traffic with CPM bidding, but even those are typically less profitable than the same campaign with a CPC bidding strategy.
As always, you’re welcome to take a giant dump on this advice by outing your own yacht funding CPM campaigns. I’d be happy to hear about them!
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