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Opening the Black Box: The True Impact of Your Facebook Advertising

Written by:   |  Social Media  |  September 19, 2019  |  1 comment

You may have heard that Facebook ads work well and are considering adding them as part of your next campaign. When you pitch the idea to stakeholders, you know they will be asking what kind of results you’ll be able to report back when the campaign is done.

Pen writing on checklist

There are ways you can measure increases in traffic and conversions from your ads, but what about the impact outside of these metrics? For example, let’s say you are grocery store – if a user reads your ad and doesn’t click, does that mean the ad wasn’t effective? If your ad is a carousel of select items from the flyer with the best discounts, the user likely doesn’t need to come to the site to get more information about strawberries being on sale for $2/lb. But how do you know if that person actually came to the store to buy them because they saw that Facebook ad?

In the past, answers to these questions about Facebook have always been a bit of a black box. Who knows if someone saw your ad, didn’t click, but still made a purchase at the store? Or, you may have heard of Dark Social (it’s not as scary as it seems). Dark Social is the unknown impact your ads have if a user who is served an ad shares it with their friends via hitting share, sending a message, or even just showing their screen to the guy next to him. So if someone sees your grocery ad and decides to share it with their spouse (because THEY are responsible for grocery shopping, not you!), the results past the share are never seen in Facebook or Google Analytics.

Behaviours like this are growing, especially with Millenials and Gen Z. These generations much prefer the passive engagements such as watching a video, but not being asked to do another action. So it’s been a hard task for marketers to try and track it all. Today we will be talking about my top 2 picks to take a look into the black box of Facebook: Offline Conversion Data and the Test and Learn feature.

Merging Offline and Online Data

The first step to answering the black box question is to connect the dots between online ads and offline results. Offline conversion data isn’t just activity from bricks and mortar stores; it can also include Digital Receipts, Loyalty Providers, Call Center Technology, and CRM data. When you connect this data to Facebook, there are tools to see how those results can be attributed to your campaigns.

Sounds complicated to setup doesn’t it? It doesn’t have to be!

One of the biggest barriers marketers have had in the past is simply figuring out how to get the data plugged into Facebook’s platform. The good news is that Facebook is continually adding partner integrations to make uploading data seamless. Today, common point of sale systems like Lightspeed, Square and Index seamlessly integrate with Facebook’s Offline Conversion Data. You can find a full list of integrated platforms here. Don’t see your offline data platform as a plug in? No problem! Facebook allows you to securely transfer these files via SFTP. This is something the team at Vovia can help with, and don’t worry, we make sure that your data is safe and completely anonymized on our side.

Test and Learn

Step two to opening our black box is to run your campaign, while running a test from Facebook’s new Test and Learn tool. These tests allow advertisers to learn what tactics are working most effectively and to dig into the demographics of who is pushing the largest improvements. These tests are run to measure the “lift” from your ads.

What is lift you ask? Lift refers to results that wouldn’t have happened without our ad campaigns running. The larger the lift, the better impact your campaign had on the factor you’re measuring.

The two test types within the Test and Learn portal are Brand Lift Surveys and Conversion Lift Studies. Each one serves its own purpose depending on your needs and the KPI’s of your campaigns.

For Conversion-Based Campaigns: Conversion Lift Study

A Conversion Lift Study allows advertisers to answer the question “How much of an impact are Facebook Ads having on my business?”. This test can be set up for a specific campaign, or for your entire ad account. From there, we recommend scheduling the study for a minimum of 7 days and select up to 10 conversion events that we want to report on in the test. These events can be from your Facebook Pixel, App Events, or Offline Events (the ones you set-up in step one)!

Once the test is set-up, Facebook will analyze the conversion data points you’ve selected, and provide a report at the end showing how much your campaign impacted those conversion points.

For Awareness-Based Campaigns: Brand Lift Study

If your campaign was meant to drive awareness, or you want to see how your conversion-based campaign also performed from an awareness perspective, choose a Brand Lift study.

A Brand Lift Study allows advertisers to answer the essential question “How much impact are my Facebook ads having on brand perception?”. Again, this test can be setup for your entire account, or for specific campaigns of your choosing. This test needs at least 14 days to run, and there are variety of questions you can answer:

  • Standard ad recall: “Do you recall seeing an ad for [your brand] online or on a mobile device in the last 2 days?”
  • Standard brand awareness: “Have you heard of [your brand]?”
  • Abstract favourability: “How would you describe your overall opinion of [your brand]?”
  • Familiarity. “How familiar are you with [your brand]?”
  • Recommendation. “Will you recommend [your brand] to a friend?”
  • Action intent: “How likely are you to consider [your brand]?”
  • Please note: standard ad recall is mandatory, and advertisers can select up to 2 additional questions.
  • Once the test is setup, Facebook serves the survey to two groups: people who have not seen your ad (Control) and people who have (Test). The survey shows up in their regular newsfeed and asks them one of the questions you selected.
  • The results are translated into easy to read graphs, and results are drilled down to gender and age categories as well.
  • By analyzing our survey polls against a control audience, we can see if we are moving the needle in terms of brand perception and seeing a lift after our ads have been served to the target market. This will allow us to make judgments on campaigns effectiveness beyond just the actions that are being taken on the platform as well as the website. This can also help those companies who are having difficulties in finding the value of digital awareness campaigns beyond an impression or reach metric, similar to how companies can conduct IPSOS surveys to find overall brand awareness.

Please note: standard ad recall is mandatory, and advertisers can select up to 2 additional questions.

Once the test is setup, Facebook serves the survey to two groups: people who have not seen your ad (Control) and people who have (Test). The survey shows up in their regular newsfeed and asks them one of the questions you selected.

The results are translated into easy to read graphs, and results are drilled down to gender and age categories as well.

By analyzing our survey polls against a control audience, we can see if we are moving the needle in terms of brand perception and seeing a lift after our ads have been served to the target market. This will allow us to make judgments on campaigns effectiveness beyond just the actions that are being taken on the platform as well as the website. This can also help those companies who are having difficulties in finding the value of digital awareness campaigns beyond an impression or reach metric, similar to how companies can conduct IPSOS surveys to find overall brand awareness.

What’s the cost?

Technically, running a survey through this tool is free. Facebook sees this as a tool that will give you the data you need to justify running more Facebook campaigns, so really it’s a win-win. The only catch is that the campaign or account you’re measuring needs $30,000 USD of ad spend to report statistically confident data. As well, you can only run one test at a time, so we have some tips below to choose the best test to start out with.

Final Thought: Once Is Not Enough

So you’ve tried one or both of these studies, and the results are great. Your stakeholders are thrilled and are totally sold on Facebook’s potential to impact your business. If you take anything away from this post, remember that one survey or test is not enough.

At Vovia our philosophy revolves around continuous optimization. Just because something worked once, doesn’t mean the same tactic will work again in the long-term. Behaviours are always changing. Platforms are always changing. This means our strategies and tactics always need to be changing. And now, we can measure how those changes are impacting not only our online performance, but our offline performance too. So don’t stop at just one survey. Use your first test as a baseline, and see if your next campaign can improve the results even more!

One response to “Opening the Black Box: The True Impact of Your Facebook Advertising”

  1. Jake says:

    These options to measure the impact of your marketing are great to know!

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