Navigating Facebook Advertising Landscape for the Holiday Season

While all channels are important for brands to consider during holiday marketing efforts, Facebook, in particular, has been a top performing option for many. However, competition for holiday spend is steep, so it’s in brands best interest to get to know the ins and outs of how to best optimize their Facebook holiday campaigns to not only achieve better ROI but also drive more online traffic.

Mobile, Mobile, Mobile

“Mobile-first” is our way of life. US consumers spend an average of over 3 hours on mobile and 50 minutes on Facebook’s social platforms every day. Brands not using mobile-first strategies for the holidays are at a tremendous disadvantage in unlocking potential customers.

The top mobile strategy for 2017? Bringing the brick-and-mortar shopping experience to consumers’ digital screens.

Facebook’s recently released mobile-first and dynamic ad formats – Canvas, Collection and Instagram Stories – quite literally recreate the storefront online, giving shoppers the opportunity to not only discover new products but also the ability to browse merchandise through a single ad. Moreover, these types of digital storefront ads can achieve a level of personalization with consumers based on previously expressed interests and user behaviors. That’s a major differentiator the brick-and-mortar storefront can never hope to replicate.

Both Canvas and Collection also give brands an opportunity to explore feed-based advertising, creating ad content directly from their product catalogue. For example, the ads enable a brand selling shoes to include multiple images of targeted shoe products within a single ad template. This type of advertising allows brands to showcase best-seller products in real time, retarget specific products consumers have previously viewed and run campaigns for specific holiday categories like toys or home goods. To produce these ads at scale, there exist tools that automatically pull from brands’ product feeds and create ads, updating them in real-time as products, deals and offerings change. It’s in advertisers’ best interests to explore and implement these newer, dynamic ad formats in order to truly reshape and reignite holiday campaign content.

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Stand Out With Creative Assets

With the influx of seasonal competition among brands, user attention is even more difficult to capture than it is the rest of the year. One of the key ways brands can make sure they stand out from the online noise is to make sure their ads are visually engaging. This takes a combination of personalization, seasonal visuals and variety.

Interestingly, when we think of creative, we don’t necessarily associate it with data – but data, in fact, plays a huge role in creative success, especially when it comes to personalizing ads. This is especially true with localized digital targeting for physical store locations, where data can help influence creative content (inclusion of maps in ad content to show consumers nearest locations to get an in-stock product or weather related data to show when might be the best opportunity to visit a brick-and-mortar location). The more relevant and personalized information a visual can offer, the more likely consumers are to continue on the path to purchase. This use of location data also complements the recent trend of merging the online and offline worlds together.

Another creative asset for brands to consider is image overlay tool for basic image template creation. Overlay tools typically make way for creative automation by standardizing an ad template in which information like price and product image can automatically be arranged. There are a number of design tools available that support Facebook ads, and brands should consider them if looking to drastically scale their creative output.

Creative automation also helps brands offer more variety around the holidays, with some ad templates pre-designed for different events, deals, locations or specific holidays within the season. Automated ad rotation based on rules that prioritize the best performing ads is also a great way to keep a campaign visually interesting throughout the season.

To Automate or Not?

Generally speaking, automation of creatives, bids and budget allocation at any time of year is important if looking to scale Facebook ad campaigns effectively. However, there are some exceptions during the holiday season. Depending on the type of campaign, sometimes manual campaign set up makes more sense than automation.

Manual adjustment works best for shorter campaigns like flash sales or a specific day campaign, like a final discount on Christmas Eve day. When running a campaign on some of the most competitive days of the year, marketers need to sometimes bid higher and increase budgets more than they would normally, which is why manual adjustments and continuous monitoring often work better for campaigns with a short timeline.

Navigating the digital landscape during the holiday season doesn’t have to be frustrating for marketers, especially on Facebook which provides so many campaign performance options for them. If marketers gain an understanding of how to best approach these options through Facebook, they’ll find great success in these upcoming weeks.

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