How to Optimize Facebook Ad Placement for Local Businesses

Digital marketing expert, Brett McHale, demonstrates how to optimize Facebook ad placements for local businesses in this Local Marketing Institute Office Hours webinar. Here are 7 key takeaways every local business marketer needs to know.

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Most local businesses I’ve worked with aren’t spending millions of dollars for marketing and advertising with either Google or Facebook, and they’re limited geographically. No matter how many locations you have, you need to reach within a specific geographic radius that you are targeting.

Knowing how to use Facebook ad placements based on your local business’ marketing strategy is one way to do that. Assuming the Facebook ad platform is right for your local business, (it’s not for everyone) how do you use your budget wisely to drive the highest quality traffic and generate leads? Essentially, how do you reach quality individuals through targeted Facebook ad placement that will lead them to do business with you?

I’m going to give you an overview of the available placements within Facebook’s platform, some optimization methods, and how to approach optimization strategies related to campaign types. Before we deep dive into Facebook ad placements, we need some background about Facebook advertising and how its algorithm works.

Facebook’s done a great job of getting its AI to a point where you’re given a campaign objective, and it finds the individuals within an objective that are going to complete that objective for you for the lowest cost. But, that doesn’t mean they’re going to be the highest quality of individuals for your business. Taking control of your Facebook ad placements is about getting in front of the right people in the right way.

1.) Understand Placement Options

Let’s dig in. First, where do we find Facebook ad placement settings, and what are your options?

Find Placements

  • Get in your Facebook ad manager overview, and select the campaign in which there’s an audience or an ad set that you want to look into.
  • Click through the campaign, and you’ll see an ad set with a check box on the left.
  • Check that ad set box.
  • Then over on the right, there’s a little pencil icon you want to click.
  • This will cascade open all of the options, the settings within the ad set, your daily budget, how much, the ad schedule, etc.
  • Scroll past that down to the placement section.
  • Here you’ll have two options: automatic placements and edit placements.

Choose Automatic or Edit

As I mentioned before, Facebook’s algorithm is optimized and encourages automatic placements for most businesses. Their idea is: “You tell us what your objective is, set everything to automatic, and then we’ll make decisions as to where the best place to put your ad is.” For some businesses, that might be the best option. For most that I’ve worked with, the ability to edit the placements and to optimize things on your own is the better option. Why? Because you have a better understanding of your business than Facebook does. The way the Facebook algorithm optimizes isn’t necessarily always in your best interest.

Available Placements

Let’s look at the spaces and places available to position your ad through Facebook ad manager if you choose to edit your placements. You have Instagram, Facebook, Messenger, and the Audience Network with varying degrees of mobile and desktop options.

Instagram

If you want to market on Instagram, you’re limited to mobile because nobody really uses Instagram on desktop. Even if they did, the option to advertise there isn’t available. You can choose to place ads in the news feed and stories.

Facebook

With Facebook, there’s a desktop news feed and right column option with examples of how the actual placements look within each device. On mobile, you have the mobile newsfeed and other in-stream videos and articles.

Messenger

The Messenger placement option is Facebook’s messaging app. It will be a very similar ad to the one that you’re showing in Facebook and Instagram, but it’s only going to show up in the Messenger app.

Audience Network

The Audience Network is a network of mobile apps. Within that, you have certain ad placements like banner, interstitial, and native. For game-type apps, you have the rewarded video and in-stream video, for example. The Audience Network includes apps, like Reddit or Candy Crush, where the ads will be placed. It’s very similar to the Google Display Network, where the user is on that app for a different purpose, and the ad is getting served to them.

2.) Set Your Goals Before You Start

Once you have an understanding of your Facebook ad placement options, you can make better decisions based on campaign goals, budget and audience. Local businesses, in particular, should think quality–not quantity–when considering ad placement options. Know your campaign goals and align them with the campaign objective type you choose for your Facebook ad placement. For example, are you looking for a form fill, brand awareness, website traffic, remarketing, or even a donation if you’re a nonprofit? Then, ask yourself what placements work best for the goal of your campaign?

Determine your budget and how much you willing to spend for a specific goal. Also, take into account expectations with audience size and location radius targets. Think about the quality of placement before you start, as opposed to saying, “Let’s cast our net broad, and then see what we get.” Because of the way Facebook algorithms work, a broad net will not work in terms of quality for marketing local businesses.

3.) Avoid Audience Network

With quality in mind, I recommend local businesses avoid placing ads in the Audience Network. You have more targeted options within the properties Facebook actually owns that are better suited to most local marketing goals.

Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger are the apps that Facebook owns and has more control over audience. With the Audience Network, your ads could show up anywhere in apps and on websites, so there’s not a lot of control. Less control and oversight also make it ripe for abuse, like fake clicks, conversions and lead form submissions.

We’ve tried some experiments with the Audience Network and actually found this problem, unfortunately. The Audience Network is not the best place to start for local businesses with tight budgets and highly targeted audiences.

4.) Use Traffic Campaigns To Achieve Brand Awareness

If it’s within the local radius of your business, then a traffic campaign is going to be more useful to most local businesses than a brand awareness campaign. You can accomplish the same awareness from a branding standpoint with a traffic campaign as you can with a brand awareness campaign alone.

And, the metrics are more concrete with a traffic campaign. “Click throughs” to your website are more measurable than “brand recall,” for example. The placements would be the same, so why not send people to your website, and build your remarketing audience? If people click through, you’re still getting the impressions and the frequency.

Facebook’s going to charge you on a CPM basis (cost per thousand impressions) regardless of the results. If you were to do a traffic campaign where you are trying to drive people to your website, you’re paying on a cost-per-click or cost-per-landing-page view. The traffic campaign still generates the impressions, but you’re only paying for the clicks, not impressions.

The ad is going to show up and bring brand awareness given the placements that you have. When people click through to your website, they can commit a series of other actions that will be valuable to your business. I do know of a lot of companies that use the brand awareness objective. I’m not saying never to use it. But, for most local businesses, a traffic objective will be more effective and also achieve brand awareness at the same time.

5.) Prioritize Landing Page Views Over Facebook Link Clicks

When you’re optimizing placements, keep an eye on your potential reach. If you’re running a site traffic campaign, select landing page views rather than link clicks. With link clicks, Facebook is going to optimize individuals within that audience who are more likely to click on links as opposed to those who are going to actually visit a landing page or visit your website.

We’ve done some testing on link clicks versus landing page views. The link click is when someone clicks a link within Facebook, and the landing page view is when someone actually gets to your website. Either way, you’re paying on a CPC basis. But with landing page views, we found that you may get 200 clicks but only 100 actual landing page views. Because the Facebook Pixel on your website actually records them, landing page views are a much more accurate way to measure if people actually got from the ad to your website.

The other thing to remember is how Facebook calculates link clicks. We often think, “Hey, a link click is a click on the link back to my website.” But that’s not always true. Facebook measures other things and counts them as clicks too, such as clicking on an image.

6.) Match Creative Placements To Your Audience

When choosing where to file down your placements, you want to match your creative assets with the audience type. Are you reaching an audience who has already interacted with your business, or just a relatively broad demographic of people around the area of your business? Decide which placements would work best if this person has never heard of your business before. If they have heard of you, maybe it would be better to be right in front of them in the Facebook newsfeed? These are all things to really keep top of mind when you’re going forward with optimizations.

It always comes down to your goal. Is it lead generation or customer acquisition? Is it simple newsletters or form submits where you’re just trying to build an audience?

Structure ad sets by audience type, and don’t mix audiences. I would never put a remarketing audience with a prospective audience, for example. By keeping your audiences really refined, you’ll know exactly how that specific audience behaves on certain platforms and certain placements. Then you have a clear idea how they interact on those platforms, and also how those ads perform on those platforms.

7.) Evaluate Results and Adjust Placements

Take the goal approach first, then evaluate, as I mentioned earlier. Really think about the experience, what you offer, and what you’re trying to get out of Facebook ads. This will help you manage how and where to spend your dollars most effectively. Then, evaluate the results of what works and what doesn’t, and adjust.

Verify results in Google Analytics if you can; it’s the source of truth. Facebook can be telling you all kinds of information about clicks, people reach and impressions, but what are you seeing in Google Analytics? What goal completes are firing? What events are firing? What are the data points on bounce rate and things of that nature?

Advertise, then double check and cross reference your results in Google Analytics. It’s really going to tell you what kind of quality you’re getting. Once you’ve analyzed your ad results, spend more on placements that drive higher quality and further optimize your placements.


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Brett McHale
Brett McHale is the founder of Empiric Marketing, a digital marketing agency dedicated to scaling businesses through paid search and social.