Facebook is changing the way it defines a “click” to better distinguish between an ad interaction that sends a visitor to an advertiser’s website and an engagement that builds the brand’s social profile. The move is part of Facebook’s ongoing strategy to differentiate the toolsets it provides for branding and direct response campaigns, and makes it easier for advertisers to pursue their objectives.
Previously, Facebook’s cost-per-click performance pricing counted all clicks on an advertiser’s ad, whether or not they drove the user back to the advertiser’s site. Reported CPCs wouldn’t necessarily distinguish between the kind of clicks an ecommerce direct marketer was looking for, and those that drive likes, shares and comments on Facebook itself.
Now, Facebook plans to disaggregate social engagements and “link-clicks” (as Facebook calls them) that drive traffic to the advertisers’ site. That way, performance advertisers can choose to either pay based on how much social engagement their campaigns drive, or based on how much traffic they drive back to their own sites.
Richard Sim, Facebook product marketing manager for interfaces and newsfeed ads, said defining “clicks” as specifically link-clicks will make life a lot easier for direct marketers and small businesses whose number one priority is getting traffic on their sites. “A lot of the direct response advertisers and ecommerce guys have have been asking for this, and so I think they’ll be very excited,” he said.
Conversely, he said it would also help brand advertisers that want to drive social engagement on Facebook to optimize their campaigns based on likes, shares and comments, rather than link-clicks.
As a result of the change, CPC advertisers will likely see a nominal increase in the cost of each click they purchase, but Sim said their effective cost-per link-click is actually going down. If advertisers were to measure their old campaigns using the new metric, they’d likely see they were paying more per link-click than they do on current campaigns using the new metric.
That’s because when advertisers choose CPC bidding now, the system will better optimize towards offsite clicks only, and will be able to more efficiently find and bid on impressions that get clicks. In fact, that’s the main reason to choose to pay for offsite clicks only, Sim said — to give Facebook’s predictive algorithms a more specific objective to plan around.
“Now when you run an ad and you say you just care about the clicks that lead to your website, our delivery engine and all of our predictive models serve that ad to people who we believe will click to your website,” Sim told Marketing. “Those people may be different from the people who are likely to comment, or like or share your ad.”
Campaigns bought on a specific cost-per-acquisition basis, for example when mobile developers are seeking app downloads, won’t be affected by the change, since they weren’t paying for likes or shares before.
Sim said the change is part of a larger strategy to streamline the tools that direct response advertisers can use to drive the kind of performance that they want out of the site. Over the past year, Facebook has introduced product-focused ads, and has improved the tools it uses for product-level remarketing such as FBX, to broaden the opportunity for DR advertisers on the site.
“The direct response business on Facebook has been very healthy, and growing,” said Sim. “Years ago a lot of people thought about Facebook as a social platform or even as a branding platform, but we’ve seen tremendous success with the direct response base.”
He said rather than moving away from branding, Facebook is looking to tailor the tools advertisers use to whatever objective they’re looking to reach. That includes brand advertisers, for whom Facebook has been developing tools like autoplay ads targeted at users more likely to watch video and the “suggested video” ad format that runs ads next to publisher video content.