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Facebook ads deliver a great return on investment - but how? Clients should build on our award winning insights to get it right

by Arno Hummerston , 17.06.2015

In our recent IAB Europe award-winning study with Facebook we proved that Facebook ads deliver a strong return when used in conjunction with TV, even if TV still has the edge on reach (but at what comparative cost I hear you ask).

The content we have put out there and the presentation at this week’s ARF in New York is great news on two fronts – it is great that the ad industry is finally beginning to realize the value of the internet for advertising, especially on mobile and it is even better news that it would seem that consumers are reacting positively to digital advertising. I’ve been doing this a long time and spent so much time battling with people who think “online advertising” is, at best, a necessary evil (would that be you @Tim_Cook?) and at worst a scam.

This study goes some way to prove digital ads are useful, are acted upon and really do add value – especially in the mobile dominated environment of Facebook. Maybe people will learn to love the mobile ad if more channels deliver relevant ads that people actually want to see? Let’s see what Pinterest and Instagram do next as they roll out their similarly well targeted ad models… Companies may even increase mobile ad spend as a result!

So does this mean we should all go out and ramp up our media dollars on Facebook - is that what this study tells us? Err, hang on. That might well be a great plan, but what exactly are you going to do? What format will work best and what message is needed? Facebook has at least 11 different ad formats and they mostly cover both browser and mobile app, so which are going to deliver a return, who should they be targeted at and how? Facebook does not operate in a vacuum. Usually you can deliver more complex and integrated campaign elements through other channels and media, so how should that interplay and synergy happen? So, whilst our study clearly demonstrates the power of Facebook in conjunction with TV, it only starts to describe part (albeit a big part in many markets) of the specific mobile advertising picture. The majority of the rest requires insights to understand the core KPIs relating to ad success – recognition, engagement, interest and affiliation – all branding and not just direct action orientated.

What’s next?

To build lasting brand impact requires a full, cross-media perspective and a true understanding of the objectives and context. To do that, especially in this mobile dominated territory, we must look to use innovative solutions such as the one we leveraged here with Facebook that go beyond a single channel. They need to unify the channels and the platforms and the media in a way that only a robust and digital led research agency can do. Only then can you really learn what you need to do and understand exactly how all digital ad spend can be maximized.

At GfK we have done this and if you are interested I’d be more than happy to have a chat with you about it, contact me @ArnoHum on Twitter or arno.hummerston@gfK.com at work.