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Research reveals what makes an effective Facebook ad

Author's avatar By Robert Allen 05 Apr, 2017
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Data based best practices for more effective Facebook advertising

Facebook is the largest social media network in the world, and it owns some of the other big beasts in the Industry (Instagram, WhatsApp). It has over 1 billion monthly active users, allowing businesses to access vast swaths of the world's population. What is more, it has among the best ad targeting options in the industry, letting you send laser targeted ads to the people who your services will be most relevant to.

Because of this, Facebook advertising can be a great way to generate more leads, sell products and generally boost your bottom line. But increasing popularity means increasing Cost Per Clicks due to competition. If you don't produce quality ads then you're just throwing money away. It's extremely important to optimise your ads by looking at the latest data on what works and applying it to your ad copy and visuals.

That's where a report from AdEspresso and HubSpot can help. They analysed over 100,000 Facebook ads from 1,000 different companies to see what works best on the platform.

Most popular post type

Of the 111,800 ads analysed, the vast majority were "Paid Post Link Ads', which is where you post a link with text, and a preview is generated based on your website. You can change the image displayed with the link to optimise it for the particular ad.

It is probably so popular because it is ideal for driving clicks to your site, which is often the action advertisers on Facebook want the recipient to take. You can't include a CTA button on a Photo ad, which may well explain why they aren't particularly popular. If engagement rather than just clicks to your site is your objective, then video ads could be the most effective way to go. They're growing in popularity for this reason, but still don't make up the majority of posts so your audience won't be overwhelmed by them.

most popular facebook ads

How long?

Is it better to keep it short and sweet or try and provide as much information about product benefits as possible in an attempt to draw them in? A tricky question, but one that seems to have a very clear answer if the industry average is anything to go by. The most popular headline length is just four words. Four words. That is this long. Not much when you're trying to get your message across, but good for grabbing attention and getting people to click to find out more.

words per facebook ad

The number of words in the link description came out somewhat higher, with the most popular number being 15 words. This is still only 1 third of the word limit for the link description, so remains fairly concise. Short text is good for getting attention and not diluting your message, but for B2B companies the customer may be looking for more information and thus somewhat more than 15 words may be advisable.

words in link description

Don't worry, be happy? - or be neutral

Sentiment analysis of the 111,800 ads analysed shows neutral or slightly positive tones are the most common for Facebook ads. This may because neutral ads really do work better on Facebook, or it may because of risk-adverse strategies on the part of advertisers. Studies show emotional content tends to be far more memorable, and we recommend a 70:20.10 split between Safe, moderately risky and genuinely risky content. Controversial content often generates massive amounts of publicity and can be extremely effective, provided you don't go too far and end up giving your PR department a headache!

ad sentiment

Remember to add your domain URL

Seen as your paying for the ad, you may as well take the opportunity to promote your brand and your domain, by including it in the ad. Most advertisers on Facebook do so, and 11% use the text option on the domain URL to include further text or a tagline, which can be effective.

domain url in facebook ads

However, 25% miss out on the opportunity to include their domain, which is usually a big mistake. If you are unsure where the domain URL appears on a Facebook ad, see the best practice example below.

domain url best practice

For more insights on best practices in Facebook advertising, see the full report on Facebook ad effectiveness from HubSpot and AdEspresso.

Auhtor's avatar

By Robert Allen

I was the Editor of Smart Insights between 2015-2017. I managed the blog and you will find blog articles on a range of subjects- Marketing Technology trends and latest tech developments are a regular focus, as well as exploring key marketing concepts. You can get in touch with me on Twitter and connect with me on LinkedIn. The new Editor is Carolanne Mangles.

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