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Social Advertising Analytics: Why the Status Quo Isn’t Good Enough

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Forty billion dollars.

That would buy you 9 billion Pumpkin Spice Lattes, 53 trips to the moon, or a gym membership for the next 62 thousand years.

It also happens to be the total revenue Facebook generated from ads in 2017 — a number that is expected to double by the end of 2018.

That’s a lot of lattes.

So as marketers fork over their hard-earned and always-under-fire budgets to the social platforms, it begs the question: What are these platforms doing for you?

At TrackMaven, we believe the status quo with social ads isn’t good enough.

In fact, I’ll even go as far to say that the native platforms are failing marketers.

Here are five reasons why:

1. It’s easy to spend your money, but not to optimize

How many of us have overspent on an ad? (✋)

How many of us don’t really understand if it’s better to run a lifetime budget versus a set daily budget? (✋)

How many of us don’t know which channels and placements are best to reach our audience? (✋)

Despite the plethora of choices platforms provide for optimization, the reality is that many of us have little insight into how these algorithms work or which options align best with our intended outcomes.

2. The default options are in the platforms’ best interest, but not yours

Over the last few months, the TrackMaven product team had the opportunity to talk with many of our customers about their ad strategies and the frustrations that arise when building campaigns on the native platforms.

My favorite moment came when talking with a customer about advertising on Facebook.

I asked how she thinks about optimizing for platforms such as Facebook Messenger and Audience Network.

She said, “What do you mean? We only advertise on Facebook.”

I think you know where this is going.

We pulled up her ad results in TrackMaven and showed her the breakdown of ad performance across Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and Audience Network.

Our customer had no idea that the default placement options in Facebook displayed her ads across all four placements in the Facebook ecosystem. 

Now, you might be patting yourself on the back. Maybe you already knew that Facebook distributes your ads via Messenger and Audience Network in addition to Facebook and Instagram by default.

But in the Ads Manager, do you know where to look to compare analytics across these different platforms? Have you noticed a higher number of Messenger placements than you were anticipating?

Perhaps you’re second guessing the default placement options. After all, Facebook wants to promote more usage of Messenger and Audience Network. But are they right for your brand?

It’s time to take these answers into your own hands. 

3. Native platforms give you a data dump, but few actionable insights.

Speaking of the Facebook Ads Manager — and really all social ads platforms — aren’t we just looking at a glorified heap of data?

A few weeks ago, TrackMaven’s marketing team held a competition internally to see which Maven could create the best-performing ads.

We divided into groups, created our (mostly dog-filled 🐶) ads, and attempted to analyze our results using Facebook and Twitter’s ad platforms.

What ensued was each team scouring through the ads managers, bouncing between the campaign and ads views, and kindly shouting the following:

  • “Can’t we just sort it by conversions?”
  • “Yeah, but our objective was Awareness.”
  • “Ok, who did that ad actually reach? Are they qualified customers?”
  • “Wait, which ad is this? What does it look like?”

So while that was a fun (and empathy-building) experiment, many groups arrived at no conclusion as to which ads definitely performed best.

If we can’t confidently determine what worked, why, and for which audiences, then how do we know what copy and creative to run in a future campaign? Or what targeting to use? Or what placement?

It’s time to say no to data dumps. Marketers need answers, not more incomprehensible data.

4. Creative is treated like a second-class citizen.

Another way the ads managers can be problematic for marketers sounds too simple to be true: Where is our creative?!

After all, you didn’t spend thousands of dollars on design and a week word-smithing the copy only to find the ad creative itself rendered illegible, buried deep in the ads manager.

If you run social ads for your team, I hope you’ve got 20/20 vision. Otherwise, it’s time to stock up on some eye cream and get ready to squint.

And don’t even get me started with reporting.

I imagine your CMO wants to actually see the ad content you’re creating, not just a slide with a data dump.

Otherwise, that’s a ton of clicking, exporting, and screenshoting to build reports that are “exec-friendly.”

And this is after doing the work to determine which ads to highlight! (Refer to issue #3.)

5. There’s no easy way to see organic and paid performance in one place.

Finally, while the marketing blogosphere loves to shout alarming predictions such as — “ORGANIC FACEBOOK IS DEAD! 💀” — I think we all know that the reality is a little more nuanced than that.

Evaluating where to invest your time (and money) requires a close look at your social strategy as a whole — across both paid and organic on all channels.

To do this, you need both a holistic and granular view of your social content. 

Want to know where you can get this view in the social platforms?

Hate to break it to you, but you’re wasting your time. Paid and organic content metrics live in two different places (the business manager vs. the ads manager).

To use organic performance to inform paid strategy, and vice versa, you’re required to switch in out and of two completely different experiences.

Trying to create a report that contains both paid and organic performance and feels consistent? Good luck.

But marketers, don’t give up hope!

Finally, a simple way to understand paid and organic social in one place

For the last few months, TrackMaven has been hard at work creating a social ads solution to alleviate your pain.

Does an automated, real-time campaign dashboard sent straight to your inbox sound like a dream?

Could insights and best practices derived from an analysis of over $80M in ad spend sound like just the context you’ve been looking for?

Then take a look!

Introducing Social Advertising Analytics in TrackMaven from TrackMaven on Vimeo.

Click here to request a demo. Take it from a saner, more informed marketer – you won’t regret it. 😎

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