Vincent Van Gogh said that “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” In the case of Facebook advertising, however, the social network has been making some pretty big consecutive moves to help out small and medium-sized business owners. Its updates in the past month alone have demonstrated a concerted effort to increase the accessibility and usability of its ad products.

Here are three of Facebook’s newest ad initiatives that should prove especially invaluable for small business advertisers:

1.     Objective-based advertising

Historically, potential Facebook advertisers faced the tedious task of learning all the different ad types and then figuring out which ones they should utilize to accomplish specific business goals. Facebook has removed a lot of that legwork with objective-based advertising, which lets advertisers tell Facebook what they want to accomplish. Based on the advertisers’ stated objective, Facebook then recommends the appropriate ad type. For example, if an advertiser wants to drive clicks to a website, Facebook will automatically recommend using Page Post Link Ads.

Simultaneously, Facebook is improving its reporting to account for this new ad buying approach. Now advertisers will see metrics that are directly relevant to the type of ad they choose to use. For example, if the objective is website conversions, then the highlighted metrics would be the number of conversions and cost per conversion. This simplification of ad buying and reporting should enable Facebook to attract business owners who seek a straightforward way to buy social ads.

2.     New capability within Custom Audiences

Recently, Facebook introduced a new Custom Audiences feature that allows marketers to reach users who’ve visited them on desktop or mobile. This latest extension of Custom Audiences is unique in that it doesn’t require having to upload people’s email addresses, phone numbers, Facebook user IDs, or app user IDs. Instead, the new feature titled ‘website and mobile app Custom Audiences’ uses code that marketers place onto their websites or mobile apps to deliver retargeted ads. Noting the similarity to retargeting via FBX, Facebook recommends this new capability only as a complementary tool to the more powerful and real-time FBX.

Facebook still advises larger businesses to use third-party FBX providers, stating that “For advertisers who have a large number of products and advertise to multiple audiences, FBX is the better solution.” This is because certain third-party providers are able to provide bulk campaign management as well as provide advanced retargeting features such as frequency capping to optimize for performance. For some of the most successful social advertisers, using FBX in conjunction with a third-party’s innovative offerings, which can measurably boost a campaign’s ROI, also factor into the decision of working with an external provider.

For example, here at Optimal, our award-winning Open Signals product allows brands to buy FBX ads in synchronization with TV commercials, which has yielded a 60% lift in CTR. As small businesses grow, they should seek better results on their retargeting spend by exploring such value-added offerings.

3.     Access to Custom Audiences within the Ads Create Tool

Most recently, Facebook has revealed that marketers will be able to use Custom Audiences within Facebook’s simple Ads Create Tool. Before, Custom Audiences was only available in Power Editor and via the Facebook API. This move eliminates the roadblock associated with having to set up and learn the functionalities of Power Editor, which some small business owners may have purposely avoided.

Facebook has also integrated MailChimp into the tool, enabling small businesses to import their existing customer lists to start using Custom Audiences right away. Interestingly, Optimal performed a similar integration in which ExactTarget’s HubExchange customers are able to use the Optimal Custom Audiences App to turn their email subscriber lists into Custom Audiences easily and safely. In the future, we should expect to see more streamlined processes from both Facebook and its advertising partners.

MailchimpGiven these recent updates to their advertising platform, Facebook has vastly expanded the availability and accessibility of its powerful ad products. In the future, we should expect to see continued simplification and streamlined processes around ad creation. In the meantime, small business owners can add retargeting and Custom Audiences to their toolkit as well as quickly set up a Facebook campaign based on any sharply defined objective.

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Derek Chang
-Derek Chang is a Marketing Associate at Optimal, a Brand Networks company which recently won the Grand Prize in Facebook's PMD Innovation Competition. He enjoys drawing and reading up on the latest technologies. Derek received his BA in Economics from Yale.