Tag : auction-advertising

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210: Facebook Wants Advertisers to Cut to the Chase

Last week, Facebook began rolling out a new advertiser restriction, which has already impacted my clients’ accounts. It will most likely be the biggest change in years for marketers on the platform. After Facebook’s analytics showed audiences responding poorly to verbose ads, they cut the visible amount of text available in an ad. Now, audiences will see three lines of text instead of seven above the photo, slideshow, or video content. (The character limit of the headline and subhead underneath remain the same.) That’s 57% less text above the image area!

Advertisers will have a choice between getting their copy to fit neatly into three lines of Facebook text or having a two-line preview with a “Read more…” link underneath those two lines that will expand to the full seven lines of text. This has been how the ads have shown on Instagram for more than a year. So, now both platforms will incentivize advertisers to hook consumers in two or three short sentences—like Google has been doing for two decades.

Who This Benefits

With less text to read, advertisers will be pressed to fit the American consumer attention span. Those who adapt to this space will hold a competitive advantage over those who don’t. For auctioneers who focus on the asset’s benefits and the audience’s perceived need, this will help them get more and cheaper clicks than bid callers who lead with “AUCTION!” Online auctioneers will benefit, because they can shorten auction information and calls to action to just “Bid now,” or “Bidding now open.”

Who This Hurts the Most

Auctions with a diverse quantity of asset categories will feel this pinch more than any other auction type. Large estates, business liquidations, and tax-delinquency auctions will prove the most difficult to describe in the short space. Offline auctions will have to choose between selling the event or selling the assets well.

How to Minimize the Limitation  

THINK LIKE A SIGN MAKER.

Ask yourself what would be most important to say if you had only three to five seconds—because you do. Use only enough text to generate a motivation to click. If someone’s not hooked on the headline, the secondary and tertiary details won’t sell them anyway.

LEVERAGE COLLAGES.

For the past four years I’ve been using collages instead of single images to maximize my advertising copy, especially on auctions with a variety of assets. Facebook’s image window is 1,200 x 628 pixels. I’ve created templates for three, four, five, and six photos to appear together. Facebook allows advertisers to select up to six of these collages per ad. Facebook’s artificial intelligence engine determines which collage(s) will get the most clicks and most efficient traffic for each audience and then adapts the ads to display the top-performing one(s). Having spent almost a million dollars on Facebook advertising, I’ve found that these collages outperform slideshows and videos just short of 100% of the time.

DON’T PUT TEXT ON YOUR PHOTOS.

You can’t cheat the system by putting text somewhere else. Facebook penalizes performance of ads with text embedded in the images—if they approve the ads at all. If you put text in your videos, use it only as captions. Facebook has revealed that you have seven seconds to hook 75% of their users and less than fifteen seconds on the rest. Show the property instead of headlines, your company logo, or a cameo of you talking about the property. 80%of Facebook users view videos on mute.

USE MORE AUDIENCES

Rather than generic text that tries to attract a range of different buyer interests, write succinct copy to each buyer group in separate ad sets. I’ve seen success with this tactic. With a brick ranch, for instance, you might target audiences of:
• investors with “Buy more cash flow.”
• brokers with “We pay buyer brokers.”
• end users with “Buy a home on YOUR budget!”
• flippers with “Make quick sweat equity.”

While this change is inconvenient for almost all of us, it creates another Darwinian opportunity for professional marketers to separate themselves from those unwilling to adapt. Commissions are at stake, if not business models. Whether you outsource your social media or handle it in-house, you’ll be best served by viewing the asset through your buyers’ eyes instead of your own—and then using as few words and characters as possible to sell them.

Stock images purchased from iStockPhoto.com

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207: 5 Ways to Get More Clicks from Facebook Video Ads

While photo-based ads typically outperform video and slideshow ads for my clients, I have seen videos deliver significant website traffic for some auctions. If you do reminder ads to pixel traffic, a slideshow or video can add value by mixing some variety into your second interaction with potential buyers. If you’re using video on your website, anyway, it’s worth experimenting with video ads and even A/B testing them with photo-based ads. Your videos will perform much better both in those tests and in general, if they follow the following guidelines. 

Use short videos.

I know you paid a lot for that drone or for that drone vendor. There might be more than 600 lots or a huge variety of items in your catalog. But “ain’t nobody got time for that.” 

You've Got 15 Seconds

Facebook recommends videos of 15 seconds or less, and they don’t even allow videos longer than 30 seconds on Instagram. That’s probably because their study with Nielson showed “that up to 47% of the value in a video campaign was delivered in the first three seconds, while up to 74% of the value was delivered in the first ten.”1

Lead with the buyer interest.

Don’t be like most of the auction industry. Do not start with 
• your company logo (which already shows above every Facebook ad), 
• the word “auction”—let alone “real estate auction” or “farm equipment auction”
• the estate name, or 
• the auction date.

If you’ve got three seconds to grab a buyer, lead with what they care about: the asset, the problem the asset will solve, or the future version of themselves with the asset. If you feel absolutely undeterred to include all of that tertiary content, there’s plenty of room for it in the headline, sub headline, and advertising copy spaces Facebook provides for all video ads.

Don’t depend on sound.

Admit it: we’re all scrolling Facebook in places and situations where we don’t want others to hear the videos in our streams. According to Hootsuite, 85% of Facebook videos are viewed without sound. 2 Facebook reports that 80% of their users have negative reactions to videos that play loudly when sound wasn’t expected. 1 So, take advantage of captions, or use the included headline, sub headline, and advertising copy space to convey your message.

Mobile Shopping

Show the assets, not the salesman.

Unless you’re a celebrity—sorry: none of you reading this are (neither am I)—people aren’t buying anything because of our faces. You might think you’re the exception to this rule. You’re not. Neither is that car dealer that interrupts your football games. Our reputations and brands matter but not until someone is already interested in a purchase. Show people what they want: the asset or what the asset will do for them. If you’ve got the budget, celebrity endorsements do work—just typically not for selling haybines, excavators, real estate, or machine shop metal brakes.

Optimize for landing page views.

Most business people who post videos on Facebook do them on their business’ Facebook page. That doesn’t hurt anything. (I’ve been asked that question.) Boosting or promoting those posts allows you to optimize the ad for likes, comments, and shares. So, Facebook shows them to people who are likely to like, comment, and share. My clients, though—especially the ones with online bidding available—pay me to get bidders off of Facebook and over to their website. To optimize for that, you’ll want to create a Facebook ad from either Ads Manager or Business Manager. There, you can optimize the video for link clicks or—even better—landing page views. So, Facebook will show the ads first to those most likely to click or go to your website. (A landing page view requires the consumer to wait for the page on your site to load before clicking back. Landing page view optimization requires a Facebook pixel installed on your website.)

Get More Mobile Clicks

If you play with Facebook videos, play by the rules. You’ll look to consumers like a digital native and a professional brand. More importantly, your cost per click will plummet. That will allow your video content to be seen by hundreds or thousands of more people for the same cost.

Stock images purchased from iStockPhoto.com.

1 “Capture Attention with Updated Features for Video Ads,” Facebook.com, February 10, 2016.

2 ”Silent Video: How to Optimize Facebook Video to Play Without Sound,” by Christina Newberry, Hootsuite.com, May 2, 2017.

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189: Are You Gambling With Your Future Commissions?

Last Monday morning, I released a controversial take on the firearms portion of Facebook’s advertising guidelines. Several in the auction industry wrote it off as a Chicken Little screech, a tinfoil-hat projection. Others wrote to tell me how they had found my assessment true for them.

The potential of that post didn’t wait any longer than the following Tuesday night. I arrived home around 10:30 to find my Ads Manager on lockdown. My advertising account had been shuttered without warning and with no explanation. All of my clients’ ads had been paused.

Facebook shutdown

This was bigger than an ad not being approved. This was a total inability to advertise on Facebook without creating a new user account, getting all of my clients to update their access permissions, and re-creating all of the custom audiences I’ve made. From what I read online by others who had suffered this fate, even those steps were sometimes not enough to get back up and running, as Facebook has measures in place to protect against serial offenders.

One Facebook advertising vendor wrote a detailed article specifically on this situation, noting that even the appeals process was a long shot. Apparently, many advertisers don’t even get specific explanations of what caused their account closure. The appeals process could take days just to get a response, let alone resolution.

The worst case scenarios would’ve cost me significant time and money. I was looking at losing the fastest-growing segment of my business, the only cost-effective tool I have for some auctions. I stood to lose confidence from my clients, prospects, and the professionals in my continuing education classes.

The exceptions from the horror stories I was reading came to those with a long track record with Facebook advertising, large Facebook spends, and a humble appeal. Thankfully, all of those criteria applied to me. My appeal email also explained how I had recently written a blog post to exhort others to comply with their advertising guidelines.

I went to bed at 1:30 Wednesday morning, anticipating tough conversations and difficult work when I returned to the office. Five hours later, I awoke for some urgent pro bono work before breakfast. Before I got out of bed I checked my Facebook Ads app on my phone to discover that—miraculously—not only had my account been reinstated, but my clients’ ads had all resumed.

I jogged upstairs to my office. My inbox held two emails from Facebook: one welcoming me back to good standing and the other explaining why my account had been shuttered. I kid you not: firearms violations.

Ironic, right? I still don’t know what post or ad triggered the closure. It might have even been my unpromoted post of last Monday’s article. Apparently, the situation struck Facebook’s evaluators as bigger than just an unapproved ad, which I’ve encountered multiple times for clients. My activity was unacceptable behavior.

So, hear me again. Putting firearms in your farm, estate, and liquidation auction catalogs has the very real potential of hijacking your Facebook advertising for your non-firearm assets.

If you believe in Facebook as a marketing tool, consider playing by their rules. If you acknowledge that culture is moving away from newsprint to digital media, understand that adaptation is more than just a format issue. If you want to keep cost-efficient mass promotion in the tool box, consider how you use your tools.

While my company will gladly still design direct mail, newsprint ads, and banner ads for auctions with firearms, I will no longer create Facebook advertising for auctions with guns in the catalog. The stakes are too high for me. Take time to evaluate whether they are for you, too.

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182: How to Know What Your Auction Advertising Budget Should Be

Click on any of the illustrations below to enlarge them.

If you read business news, you run into the term “big data” on a regular basis. I used to associate it with corporations mining our transactional histories to extract scary quantities of data for creepily-predictive advertising.

After teaching part of the Auction Marketing Management course for a couple years, though, I get inspired to help small businesses use the same processes with the information they already have.

Auction companies, in particular, have some incredible, free knowledge. With a few minutes’ worth of work, that knowledge can become predictive power; and that power can help you convince more and better sellers that you are their best option. It just takes asking a few questions and recording those answers.

How many buyers did you have in your latest auction?

Number of Bidders

Along with that, how many bidders did you have in that auction?

Number of Buyers

Divide the number of bidders by the number of buyers. This will tell you how many bidders you needed to get to each buyer.

Bidders Per Buyer

Divide this number by the number of lots in your auction. This will tell you the average of how many lots per buyer you needed to get everything sold.

Lots Per Buyer

How much did you spend in advertising on this auction?

Advertising Cost

Divide this number by the number of bidders at the auction. This will tell you the average cost per bidder.

Cost Per Bidder

Of course, it’s easy to then compute your average cost per buyer.

Cost Per Bidder

How many unique visitors did this auction’s page on your website generate?

Web Uniques

Divide this number by the number of bidders. This will tell you how many unique visitors to your website it takes to get a bidder.

Uniques Per Bidder

A quick formula will compute how many website visitors it takes to get a buyer, too.

Uniques Per Buyer

If you’re curious, you can divide your advertising expense by the number of unique visitors to see what your cost per website visitor was.

Cost Per Unique

Now, keep track of these fields for every auction this year. (It should take only five or ten minutes per auction to fill in the blanks.) To make it more accurate for predictive value, I would keep separate spreadsheets for each asset category. If you operate in multiple states, you might find value in an extra column for that notation, too.

Maybe at the end of the year, all you’ll have is something to pique your curiosity. There’s a decent chance, though, that you’ll have actionable data from seeing patterns.

Like one of my friends, you might be able to tell the auction manager approximately how many bidders to expect based on your Google Analytics numbers the morning an auction closes. Or you’ll be able to tell that the bidder registrations were an anomaly. If there’s post-auction seller discussions, you can show them their results versus your typical results.

When a potential seller asks why you picked the budget figure you did, you can explain, “For the asset type or the number of lots you have, we’ll need to get roughly [x] number of buyers. To get that many buyers, we’ll need to attract about [x] number of bidders, which cost us on average $[x] each.”

If you don’t think that would be valuable information, skip these questions and recommendations. If you think there’s merit to them, I can send you the formula-driven Excel sheet I used to create the illustration above. Just click here to email me, and I’ll send you a free copy.

Stock photo purchased from iStockPhoto.com

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