Facebook has made several changes and upgrades to its advertising tools in recent months to make it a more competitive option for small business advertising. Advertisers are now able to specify objectives to better target their advertising dollars, such as increasing traffic to their website, encouraging more “likes” on their business page, and/or converting more clicks into sales. Also, small businesses are able to choose whether their ads will appear in the Facebook news feed or in a special advertising column located on the far right of the site page. All of this enables small business advertisers to more accurately target the specific demographic they want to reach.
In addition, in June 2013 Facebook released a tracking pixel, which has become an extremely effective tool for small business advertisers. This is essentially a snippet of code that enables advertisers to track customers who come to their websites through their Facebook ad. Businesses have reported that this tool has had a major impact in expanding the overall customer base.
Other new Facebook tools include Custom Audiences, which helps business owners identify and target an audience for their ads based on characteristics such as gender, interests, geographical location, relationship status, education, age, and even they type of phone they use. A similar targeting tool called Lookalike Audiences helps advertisers locate potential customers with characteristics similar to those of existing customers.
The news feed ads that Facebook offers provide small businesses a more aggressive advertising approach, since Facebook users spend the majority of their time on the site in the news feed section. These ads look like other posts but are labeled “sponsored.” Since they are in the same stream as other content, the ads feel more organic and thus garner a better click through rate. In addition, because of their placement, they can be seen by mobile users as well.
Facebook acknowledges that one of the main drivers for these changes is to make it more competitive with Google’s AdWords program, which has become a “must” in advertising for many small businesses. While Facebook has more than 25 million small businesses that are active on its site, only a million or so of those actually spend advertising dollars there.
Zimmerman, Eilene. “Facebook Revamps Ads to Compete with Google.” The New York Times. 1/15/14.