Facebook Ad Objectives Explained
Some people genuinely believe Facebook Ads don’t work, and one of the things that often helped them reach this conclusion is choosing the wrong Ad Objectives.
Facebook WANTS your ads to succeed.
They need advertisers to keep spending money using their platform, and we wouldn’t continue to do so if we didn’t get results there.
So what’s going wrong?
There’s 5 major things that can tank your campaigns, and one of them I see time and time again is using the wrong objective.
There are 8 main Facebook Ad Objectives, across 3 categories.
And it matters which ones you choose for your campaigns!
Facebook is incredibly powerful (you don’t think Trump got elected on his dazzling personality, do you?!) mainly because it knows so much about us.
Not just what we like and dislike, but how we behave online.
Which websites we visit, how likely we are to subscribe to a newsletter, add something to a cart, download an ebook, or fill out a Lead Form.
It knows what events we said we were going to, and which ones we actually went to…
If you want to know what Facebook knows about you (ie. what’s there for advertisers to target you with) tap this link.
Now, Facebook has all this info, but it doesn’t know how to apply it to your campaign properly unless you explain clearly what you’re looking for, and you do that by defining an objective.
Don’t choose engagement as an objective if you actually want sales.
Facebook will optimise its ad serving to people who are most likely to perform the action you asked for.
So if you ask for engagement, it’ll serve your ads to people most like to comment, react, share or save your post – and they might not be the same people as the ones who’ll buy from you!
Of course you can re-target them later, but that’s not what this article is about.
You need to choose the objective that best aligns with your desired outcome!
There’s 3 main categories of campaign objectives to choose from. Awareness, Consideration and Conversion.
There’s no coincidence thee three categories align to the 3 basic phases of a sales funnel.
Let’s look at them more closely.
Awareness contains the two objectives Reach and Brand Awareness.
A very useful campaign objective IMO because it allows you to set the reach and frequency of your campaign.
If you want your audience to see your ad once a day, you can set it to a reach of one per day. If you want your ad to be served to your audience twice a week you can select a rech of two per seven days.
This give you a great control over delivery in a frequency sense, which can be very powerful.
However, as it is purely optimised for reach, you aren’t asking Facebook to find you people who’ll engage, click or buy – so these ads will have little action taken, and are more of a display type.
This isn’t one of those ad objectives I personally use. It also optimises for awareness, but this time in what’s called Ad Recall Lift.
Facebook describes it as:
“We’ll serve your ads to maximize the total number of people who will remember seeing your ads. To help us improve delivery optimization, we may survey a small section of your audience.”
So basically, they’ll try to show that more people remember your brand after seeing an ad, because they remember the ad.
If you’ve seen Facebook Surveys in your newsfeed it’s because that brand has been using the Brand Awareness objective in a recent campaign.
There’s many different ways to approach the consideration phase of the user journey, and I guess that’s why this category has the most different types of ad objectives. Objectives here include: Traffic, Engagement, App Installs, Video Views, Lead Gen and Messages.
The Traffic ad objective is designed to send people from Facebook to your website, Facebook event or landing page.
You can either choose to opitimise this objective further by selecting Link Clicks or Landing Page Views.
Link Clicks optimises for people who’ll click the link in your ad.
Landing Page Views optimises for people who’ll likely land on your destination url.
What’s the difference?
Not everyone who clicks will land. Generally this will depend on the speed at which your landing page loads, but also factors in behaviours – these are people who will likely ONLY click and not land. Landing Page Views are likely to land on your page, but then not necessarily perform any other actions.
Buying traffic to your website is a great way to get people to understand more about your brand, offering or product and to build retargeting pools for later use.
Engagement ad objectives are further broken down into 3 sub-categories; Post Engagement, Page Likes and Event Responses.
This is I guess the ‘truest’ form of Engagement type. Your campaign will find people who are most likely to engage with your ad.
So anyone who’s likely to comment, react, share or save your post will be considered as long as they match your broader targeting.
This audience may not be likely to click through to your site (as with Landing Page Views), or to remember your brand (as with Brand Awareness) as you’ve not asked Facebook for these actions – merely to task them to find the people most likely to engage.
Arguably the most pointless of the Engagement ad types, as they will be served to people most likely to like your page.
SInce most pages have a low engagement rate, the people who currently like your page may not even be seeing your posts, so collecting more of them is not really the best use of your ad budget.
If you do want to grow your page’s following I’d suggest running Video Views or Post Engagement ads and inviting the people who engage to like your page and growing it that way – but at the end of the day these are vanity metrics and don’t really affect your businesses bottom line.
In my opinion, in the wrong group and events should have their own category – but since they appear here, this is where I’ll explain them.
You need to have a published event on Facebook to use the Event Responses objective, and they’ll be served to people most likely to respond to your event. Not respond ‘going’, it could just be ‘interested’.
These are an excellent way to boost interest in your upcoming business event but have some limitations in placements in that they can only be served on Facebook newsfeed and Marketplace and not any of the other Facebook Ad placements (such as Stories, Instagram newsfeed etc.)
If you strategy is to grow your page engagement or following, the Engagement ad objective is fairly effective, and can also work well as part of a wider strategy as you can re-target people who’ve engaged with your page or event with a different ad objective in a subsequent campaign.
This ad objective is only relevant to you if you’re advertising an app. If you are, check out some info on Blueprint.
If you need someone to help you with this type of campaigns, check they’ve done it before – its a bit different so you’ll want someone with this specific experience.
The rest of us probably won’t ever use this ad objective, so we’ll move on.
There could probably be a whole article about this ad objective!
Video Views are served to those most likely to watch your video. Currently you can choose to use the 2-Second Continuous Video Views or ThruPlay.
2-Second Continuous Video Views
This is optimised to serve to people most likely to view 2 seconds of your video. How do they work it out?
Here’s what Facebook’s documentation on it says:
“The metric counts when your video was played for 2 continuous seconds or more. Most 2-second continuous video views will have at least 50% of the video pixels in view. In some cases, such as when part of the screen is obscured by a system or app overlay (due to user behavior like sharing, saving or receiving a notification) less than 50% of a video’s pixels may be in view.”
Doesn’t seem like much, huh? 2 seconds of a potentially obstructed “view”.
ThruPlay is a bit more meaty.
“ThruPlay allows advertisers to optimize and choose to pay only for ads that are played to completion, or for at least 15 seconds.”
Either way you optimise your ad delivery, Video Views are a way to get your content SEEN.
If you have a great how-to video with a CTA these work well, but I tend to find unless the video content is really compelling this objective works as top of funnel (TOFU) activity only.
The same people who’ll passively watch a video aren’t necessarily the same people who’ll click for more info or buy something straight away, but this makes it an excellent way to cheaply get people to find out more about your product or service – and quite cheaply too!
This is especially true when you use placements where video consumption is standard, like Facebook Video Feed, Facebook, Instagram & Messenger Stories (providing you have vertical creative) and Audience Network Rewarded video.
Try using the Video Views ad objective to a cold audience and then re-targeting to people who’ve watched 75% or 95% of the video.
I’d suggest also looking at your view-through rates by exporting your ad metrics to see where you might be able to make content production optimisations.
Lead Generation is one of those ad objectives that only works under certain circumstances, but when it does it works well.
Lead Gen is best for services or high price items like houses/property as people can’t buy them online, but will submit their details for a call (or email) back with more information.
The leads are gathered on Facebook and closed offline.
They work similarly to a contact form on your website but are optimised for people who are likely to complete and submit them.
There’s a couple of things you need to know about Lead Gen ads:
- You need to create a form
- The submitted leads need to be downloaded daily or you’ll need an integration to get them sent to you in real time (like Zapier)
To run a successful Lead Gen campaign you need to have someone committed to contacting the leads in a reasonable amount of time that can answer their questions and close the sale.
Not all businesses are capable of doing this at any kind of scale so this objective might not be at all suitable for your business.
The last of the Ad Objectives in the consideration category is Messages.
Some businesses rely heavily on Messenger!
Sometimes it makes no sense at all, because all the information is provided elsewhere, but people are drawn to message the brand – and since this is the way they prefer to interact with these brands you may as well lean in.
Of course, a lot of the heavy lifting of these campaigns can be done by a chatbot, which can be put together pretty easily on a platform like MobileMonkey.
With the Messages objective you can decide between Messenger or WhatsApp as a message service and optimise for Replies or Leads.
There’s no real info about how Facebook determines if someone is merely replying or if they are a genuine lead so I’d recommend split testing these if you’re using them in a campaign.
You can build out some automation and there’s also templates you can customise (a little) so you can add images and video to your responses.
Some audiences prefer Messenger to the phone, some couldn’t think of anything worse than messaging a business – know your audience enough to determine if this objective will work for you.
From these consideration category Ad Objectives, I most often use Video Views (but more as TOFU) , Traffic and Engagement for my campaigns and the others less often or not at all.
I’m going to outline the Ad Objectives around Conversions – but this assumes you have your Pixel setup correctly and enough data to allow Facebook to make it work.
People try Conversion campaigns and they don’t work because they aren’t set up properly, or simply haven’t collected enough data points to serve the ad to the right people.
People also don’t tend to give them enough budget and enough time to do their thing. There’s SO MUCH DATA, it takes a while for Facebook to find you what you’re looking for.
Then you need enough of the conversion to be sustainable. Once you get that then you can think about bringing down the cost per conversion, or giving the campaign more budget.
Another thing that makes conversion ads fail – bad creative. It’s worth split testing and finding some winning creative in your consideration phase before slapping up any old thing on a Conversion campaign.
In the Conversion Ad Objectives, you can choose from Conversions, Catalogue Sales and Store Traffic.
Choose the conversions point you want to achieve and Facebook will serve the ad the those most likely to perform that conversion.
You can go straight for purchases, or you can use a conversion point earlier in the sales process like an Add To Cart or Initiate Checkout to build up data.
Having said that, not everyone who’ll add to a cart will checkout…ever.
Initiate checkout is good if you have an automated abandoned cart email and you don’t have enough pixel fires to go for Purchase conversions off the bat.
This is the most common and customisable conversion type so I’ll only briefly touch on the other two ad objectives in this category.
This is one of the ad objectives you’d consider if you have an ecommerce site. it’s not suitable for service businesses.
You need to have your Catalogue set up in your Ads Manager to be able to run this ad objective. This ad objective works dynamically.
There’s further reading on this objective here.
If you have physical locations you might consider this ads objective. It takes a bit of setting up, so you’ll need to have locations enabled and an Offline Events Set to run this type of campaign.
You can read more about this ad type here.
So folks, that’s a bit of info for you about the different types of Ad Objectives available to you when you use Facebook Advertising.
Remember it’s important to tell Facebook what you’re actually looking for so it can help you achieve the results you need.
If you want sales or leads, you’re really best off selecting the corresponding Ad Objectives (Conversions and Lead Generation) so Facebook knows what to look for in the interests and behaviours of the people the ad is being served to.
I hope this helps you to set up more effective Facebook Ad campaigns!
Let me know if you found this useful and tell me what ad objectives you use and why in the comments.