Money Down the Drain

174: 6 Things That Make Your Facebook Ads More Expensive

I regularly get asked to estimate the cost of a potential Facebook campaign off the top of my head. That can be difficult because the cost of advertising on Facebook can vary greatly depending on a multitude of factors. (Even in the same campaign, some ads are drastically more expensive than others.) Because what my clients and I advertise ranges greatly in category, value, and geographic market, the audiences vary accordingly.

Facebook advertising is billed in terms of cost per click (CPC), but that price isn’t uniform. CPC is determined by algorithms and invisible auctions. Ads compete for eyeballs, as Facebook allows only a certain number of ads during a user’s time on the service. Facebook wants ads to be appeal to its users, so that they aren’t annoyed off the platform. Because of this, the world’s largest platform wants paid content to match user interests as much as possible; and engaging ads are rewarded with lower cost per click.

But enough with the ambiguous factors, here are six specific reasons some of your Facebook ads cost more than others.

Unattractive asset

Let’s face it, you wouldn’t buy what you’re selling. You’re just crossing your fingers it sells. Or maybe the item at hand is less attractive to its local area (like a snowmobile in Orlando) or in the current season (like a motorcycle in December). If someone is less likely to purchase something, they are less likely to click on an ad for it. This isn’t a matter of asset value—just asset appeal. I’ve seen ads for small, rural estate sales significantly outperform expensive commercial real estate.

Unappealing copy or photos

You might have a fantastic asset, but the ad copy doesn’t evoke interest in potential buyers. The fault can be the wrong message, too many words, or a missing call to action. Also, the photography could be unprofessionally captured or otherwise underwhelming. It’s not that all images have to be snapped by commercial photographers; they just need to appropriately match the current, reasonable expectations of the consumer public for that asset.

Compressed time frame

Because ads compete for space, forcing them into a small window of time means that Facebook has to push your ads ahead of others with longer timeframes. To win the auction, you have to outbid every other advertiser. So, cutting line costs more. Sometimes, it’s very much worth it, if you are advertising to people at an event: say during the Super Bowl, a car show, or even a competitor’s auction.

Highly-competitive time frame

Certain times of year attract more advertising, because more retailers are advertising their wares. Think: Black Friday. I haven’t tested it, but I would imagine the week of Mother’s Day and Valentines would be more competitive. If you’re going hyper local in a metro area, there might be more advertising during festivals or perennial times of tourist activity.

Your prospect pool and its Facebook habits

Some desired audiences don’t interact with Facebook as often as others. That might be a factor of age, Internet availability, population density, or something else. Or you might be chasing a frequent Facebooker from a specific demographic or geographic area that a lot of marketers are chasing. Either way, supply & demand will make getting in front of them more expensive.

How the ad is optimized

Facebook offers multiple formats for your paid content to be presented. Each is inherently optimized by Facebook for different types of interactions—only one of which is getting people to your website. Also, even those intended for website traffic can be optimized for largest viewing audience, multiple views per prospect, or people most likely to click on links. So, even premium content can be more expensive from a cost-per-click standpoint due to how that content is ordered.

While we should all pursue more relevant ads, it’s important to note that efficiency is a secondary goal to effectiveness. Regularly, in my Facebook reports to clients, the ad that is most effective (got the most clicks) isn’t the most efficient one (lowest cost per click) we used in a campaign. Again, I regularly have huge swings in cost per click in the same campaign, using the same images and headlines.

Some audiences are worth their heftier cost. It only takes one click from the right person to have a buyer and two website visitors to have an auction.

Stock image purchased from iStockPhoto.com.

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