Overall, Facebook has done a nice job adding to the type of ad options available for marketers, along with going mainstream with Instagram ads. This all makes sense when you think about the increased pressure to pump up ad revenue, increase stock prices, and keep the social giant fresh for its users. The problem is that inevitably most advertisers have found the ad formats limiting and boring.
On a trip to Menlo Park this November as a part of a Facebook training program with Add3, I heard something that was equal part surprising, and equal part inspiring; Facebook wants us to “hack” their ads. The term “hack” can have multiple connotations, but in the eyes of Facebook, it is fairly simple to understand – Find creative workarounds to Facebook ads that help the brand stand out with consumers.
In a way, we hate to share this with the world as it helps Add3 stay ahead of the curve, but for the sake of the open web, we have some solutions to common Facebook problems.
Problem: We have really cool GIF/Cinemagraphs within our assets, but cannot promote them on Facebook or Instagram.
Solution: Options A: Run an auto-play video ad that looks like a GIF/Cinemagraph and have it on repeat within the video. Take a 3 second clip, loop it 5 times, and within a :15 second video there is a cool looking visual. Option B: Boost an organic post with the GIF in it (20% text rule and character limitations apply).
Problem: The 20% text rule can be troublesome and can cause important ads to be disapproved.
Solution: The 20% text rule does not apply to video. Run a video with 20% or greater text within it. The Facebook system does not check video for text and will not be able to pick up moments where text is greater than that of an image.
Problem: Carousel ads are too independent of the next one, and are not enough of a differentiator to stand out from a normal image ad.
Solution: Make each carousel ad an extension of the next. Each image works off the previous one and as a whole creates one large image, not independent ones.
Problem: We have video, but am weary of auto-play and whether my video can truly stand out.
Solution: Create 3D video using carousel ads. Jameson Whiskey took advantage of the auto-play functionality of Facebook and Instagram and used four consecutive videos to make it look as if a shot was sliding across the bar.
Problem: I am not getting enough reach with my ads.
Solution: Users who engage with more standard image ads get served more image ads in their feed. Same goes for Carousel and Video ads. Instead of serving different variations of images or videos, run an ad set with one image, carousel and video in it so you can make sure to maximize your reach. This way, no matter what type of ad your target audience typically engages with, your brand has it covered.
What I appreciated about Facebook was their encouragement of “hacking” and that often the breakthroughs that come from skirting the edges of the specs ends up becoming common practice. If we aren’t encouraging our clients to push the limits, then what are we doing as marketers? The landscape within paid social is littered with newsfeed ads, but it’s the teams that can “hack” the system that find the greatest results for their clients.
What will the next great “hack” be? It’s our job to find out.