Direct marketers and investors alike are starting to see the light at the end of the Facebook tunnel. One of the delivery mechanisms that has helped turn things around for Facebook advertisers is the Page Post Ad unit.

From here on, let’s assume we are only targeting News Feed desktop and mobile – no right-hand side ads in this mix.

1.   Photo or Link Ads?

It is a question worth considering, but I can say that from my testing so far in the ecommerce space, Page Post Photos (PPPs) are a better fit than Page Post Links (PPLs). Lead gen/B2B may be another story, but I don’t have conclusive data on that yet.

While PPLs can often have higher conversion rates than PPPs, they also can have lower CTRs. After all, people want a nice photo to click on… it is Facebook.

Facebook page post link ad

But even with higher conversion rates, the economics just don’t pan out for PPLs because, as you know, low CTRs beget high CPCs, which is usually enough to drive CPAs up over your targets. For most advertisers, this is all that matters.

Facebook page post photo ad

 2.   One Page Post Per Campaign

There are still some campaign managers out there who place multiple ads with common targeting in a single campaign. Maybe this approach works well for them, but I think they’re not giving each ad a fair shake.

In my experience, it’s better to use metrics like CPA and conversions to inform decisions like whether to run or pause an ad rather than let Facebook’s algorithms make those decisions based only on CTR.

The end result is perhaps more work on your part: setting the proper date ranges, downloading the data to Excel, analyzing it all, and picking the winners, but because you’re using conversion data to inform decisions, you’ll be better off in the long run.

3.   Understand How Tracking Works

When Facebook serves up the ad in your target audience’s News Feed, parameters are appended to the URL, i.e. utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=cpc. These parameters can be set in the Optional URL Parameters section. When visitors click the link in your ad, their visits to your site are tracked properly using these parameters.

Facebook parameters

But when someone clicks the photo, which is often what we want, they are no longer looking at an ad unit but a Facebook photo. At this point, all parameters are LOST, and along with it your tracking. In that case, visits are logged as referrals from Facebook, i.e. and medium=referral.

The step below offers a solution to this problem, but also raises new concerns.

4.   Use Bitly, But Only If Necessary

This step is worth testing, and to do it right, you need to launch your control and test ads at exactly the same time.

It is entirely possible to encapsulate all of your parameters into a Bitly link (or some other URL shortener). In this case, you don’t need to add the optional URL parameters when you set up your ads. Just wrap the link containing all of your necessary tracking parameters in a shortened URL, and visits will be properly tracked for the duration of the campaign.

 use bitly

But this poses a concern: you just lost a branding opportunity by taking your website’s domain out of the ad. I would also argue you’ve lost some trust as well. “How do I know what’s behind that bitly link?”

Whether or not this is a big deal is up to you. In my experience, I have seen lower CTRs with shortened URLS, but it’s your call. I’d rather live with the aforementioned tracking issues while building trust and branding my website.

5.   Monitor the Conversation to Maximize Conversions

This is perhaps the most important step to seeing your campaigns through to greatness. For each Page Post campaign, log the post’s URL on a shared doc that your team can access. You’ll want to sweep all active posts regularly, looking for negative comments and questions about your products.

page post ads negative comments

The comments are a great place to gather FAQ ideas, but they’re also a place where haters with an ax to grind will undoubtedly have their say. One negative comment can quickly lead to 3 or 4, taking a considerable toll on conversion rates.

Facebook’s policy on hiding comments is obviously pro-comment: they want brands to engage visitors openly and honestly. However, there is no excuse for folks to hijack threads with inappropriate garbage. In the world of D.R. (direct response), we can and should do whatever it takes to maximize conversions. It’s up to advertisers and campaign managers to figure out how to best represent the brand.


  1. John Lusk August 14th, 2013

    Great post Joey. Really appreciate all of the efforts CPCSearch has made to help Rivet & Sway crack, and continue to test, the facebook nut. Look forward to seeing more of your posts on facebook and other in-stream advertising learnings!

    John Lusk
    Rivet & Sway | Founder

  2. Joey Muller August 14th, 2013

    Thanks, John!

  3. Terry Whalen August 14th, 2013

    Joey, great post. Really good. ‘Nuff said.

  4. Terry Whalen August 14th, 2013

    David, do you like this post? Dennis, do you?

  5. Jason Waters August 23rd, 2013

    In relation to the photo or link ads, do you not think Facebook’s Simplified ad formats will increase CTR for Link ads especially when the image is much bigger, bolder and eye catching? Not to mention the much bigger area for users to click on and be directed offsite. This will help lower clients CPA’s which is great!

  6. andres January 8th, 2014

    Hi Joey…

    When you are creating ads on Facebook…Where do you choose ( Page Post Link Ads or Page Post Photos Ads????? ).
    Could you explain me about it?

    Thanks a lot for your help

    Andres M.

  7. Joey Muller January 8th, 2014

    Hi Andres, there are a couple of ways to create an unpublished page post. The easiest way is from Power Editor during the ad creation process. After choosing your Advertising Objective, find the link that says Create New Unpublished Post. From there you’ll have a few options for the Post Type: Link, Photo, Video, Status, Offer. And there you have it!

    Hope that helps.


  8. andres January 10th, 2014

    Hi Joey…thanks for your answer…

    One more question ( sorry for that ): When you say:

    When Facebook serves up the ad in your target audience’s News Feed, parameters are appended to the URL, i.e. utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=cpc.

    This apply for Regular Promoted Post or just for this kind of Unpublished Post???

    Thanks a lot


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Joey Muller is a certified Google AdWords Professional and Facebook advertising expert at Sum Digital, a digital marketing agency in San Francisco. Joey has generated millions of dollars in revenue for ecommerce, gaming, healthcare, and IT companies. Joey received his BA in Cognitive Psychology from Dartmouth College. See Joey’s LinkedIn profile and follow him on Twitter @jmthefourth.