It’s hard to believe. But yes, people do read a 900-word Facebook ad on their mobile phone. It’s counterintuitive.
We started running long-form Facebook ads in 2018. It resulted in better targeting of the right prospects. It also reduced our Cost Per Acquisition (CPA). Here’s an example.
A Value Investor wanted leads for portfolio management. Traditional targeting would have pulled in people interested in ALL investing. Then, after they became a lead, he would have had to try and persuade them to consider Value Investing. The cost for that type of targeting ranged from $25 to $75 per lead. But many of those leads would have never considered Value Investing. So, there was considerable waste. Long-form Facebook ads fixes this.
We ran a 900-word ad that spoke specifically about Value Investing. And the first call-to-action (CTA) was 300 words deep into the ad. The remaining calls-to-action were near the end of the ad. So, the only people who saw these CTAs had already committed significant time reading about Value Investing … on their mobile phone. And the cost per lead dropped.
Yes, we dropped from $25-$75 per lead for general targeting all the way to $14 per lead for focused targeting. And unlike our $25-$75 leads, we knew that all of our $14 leads were interested in Value Investing.
Yes, this is counterintuitive. It seems like people won’t spend time reading a long ad on their mobile phone (most Facebook ads are run on mobile). So, how does this work?
We’ve addressed the highlights of long-form Facebook ads. Click on the links below to jump to a specific topic.
- What are long-form Facebook ads?
- Why do long-form Facebook ads work?
- The problem with short-form ads.
- Likes, Social Proof, and Conversions.
What are long-form Facebook ads?
One of the things we like about Facebook is that you can run long-form ads. Our long-form ads run about 600-900 words. In contrast, short-form ads are typically around 50 words or less. It can be hard to appreciate the difference until you see a side-by-side comparison of the ads. Pictured below is a typical short-form ad run by Fisher Investments. In contrast, the four columns next to it is a long-form ad we ran for a client.
Critics say the ad on the right is too long. Nobody will read it … especially on mobile. But the proof is in the numbers. We reduced a short-form ad CPA from $25-$75 to $14 using the long-form ad format. And better yet, the long-form ad delivered a more highly qualified lead.
Why do long-form Facebook ads work?
Facebook measures everything. And one of the things Facebook measures is how long you’re engaging on an ad. So, when the Facebook algorithm sees someone deeply engaging on an ad, it looks for other people like that user in its inventory of users. Then it shows the ad to more people who are likely to engage with it. This gives long-form ads two unique advantages.
First, the ad pre-qualifies the user before they click on the ad. Do you think an unqualified prospect will read 600 to 900 words in an ad? No, only qualified prospects will engage so deeply on an ad.
Second, the processes of qualifying via engagement is exactly the signal that Facebook needs to find more users like your pre-qualified leads.
It’s not that Facebook’s algorithm was designed to encourage longform ads, it’s that long-form ads give the algorithm more information to make better choices.
Long-form ads are more of an unintended consequence, not necessarily a bad consequence, but just an unintended consequence by Facebook.
With long-form ads, we can achieve targeting that used to be achieved by audience selection. Detailed audience selection was a powerful tool that Facebook took away from advertisers. This is good news for long-form advertisers.
When Facebook took detailed targeting away, the long-form format, combined with the algorithm, allowed us to once again enable highly targeted advertising. When the copy is both engaging and speaks to the right audience, Facebook then finds other people that look like those that engaged. So, Facebook’s changes benefit those advertisers that can write engaging long-form copy.
The problem with short-form ads.
Most Facebook ads are short and say something along the lines of “Hey, we have something valuable for you. Click here.” These ads may get more clicks. And some marketers equate more clicks to a successful campaign. They figure the more people they have coming to them, the greater chance they have of someone buying.
Think of a short-form ad as being a shotgun approach, and a long-form ad as being a rifle approach. With a long form ad, you’re looking for a very, very specific target.
When you go with the shotgun approach, you will have people click, come to your page, and say “this isn’t for me.” And they move on. The problem with this approach is that Facebook has limited data with this type of engagement – all they know is that someone (who isn’t your ideal customer) clicked on the ad and went to your website. If that’s all Facebook knows, then they won’t know not to send that ad to that type of person again.
Likes, Social Proof, and Conversions.
Back in the early days of Facebook everybody would run engagement campaigns where you spent a lot of money to get people to say they “like” you. That never interested me – with ONE exception: social proof.
Let’s say you’re walking down the street and you’re looking for a restaurant. You’re hungry, and you see two restaurants. One is packed and has a small line to get in. The other one is empty. You can walk in and be seated and eat right away. In most cases, even a hungry person will choose to wait in the line of the busy restaurant. Even though they could be seated and fed right away at the empty restaurant. The psychological force behind this is social proof. We look for others to validate our choices. The busy restaurant says that people have judged that to be a good restaurant.
The same concept of social proof also applies to social media. The more people you see liking an ad, the more likely you are to also engage and trust the advertiser. So, we usually run a small-budget Page Poste Engagement (PPE) campaign in tandem with our conversion campaign.
Our primary goal is conversions. So, most of the budget is spent on campaigns with a conversion objective. Conversions can be lead generation, registration, or purchase. That is where you make your money.
Are you looking for new lead sources? Or are you looking to reduce your Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)? Maybe it’s time to consider long-form Facebook ads.
Google search ads get expensive. And they’re only targeting active searchers. In contrast, Facebook is like TV. You can reach people who are not actively searching. You can also reach people who may not search when they have a need.
Long-form Facebook ads provide new growth opportunities. Yes, it’s counterintuitive. But give it a shot and see it how it works for your business.