New Data Proves Facebook Ads Lift Search ROI

December 18, 2015
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Facebook has just released some new research that shows us just how well Facebook ads play with others, like paid and organic search channels, to lift traffic and conversions. As a long time search geek who has just recently gotten really into Facebook ads, this data makes me really happy.

So sit back, relax, and let me take you on a magical ride through Facebook’s awesome new data.

Holy Mobile, Batman! Mobile Facebook Ads Lift Search Referral Volume

There’s no “Batmobile” without “mobile” – and mobile is a big part of the equation here, too.

In the first segment of its newly published research, here’s what Facebook discovered that “mobile-heavy Facebook paid media exposure caused a statistically significant lift in search referral traffic volume to advertiser websites, predominantly on mobile.”

 

6 Fast Facts

1. Consumers who were exposed to Facebook ads were more likely to conduct a new search on mobile.

2. Referral search traffic climbed to 12.8 percent in some cases.

3. The average lift for mobile search referral traffic was 6 percent.

4. The average lift for desktop search referral traffic was less than 1 percent (but the study points out that since 70 percent of Facebook ads were in a mobile format, this data is consistent with the “same-device stickiness” in the consumer journey that is typical for e-commerce).

5. Small businesses saw the largest variance in lift.

6. Facebook says there’s more research to be done: “We hypothesize that lift in search traffic due to Facebook paid media exposure may correlate with a combination of other factors, such as organic content, the reach and frequency of the Facebook campaign, the amount of paid search media weight and other digital or media weight during the campaign period.” 

Cars, Money, Shopping

No, that’s not just a typical day in the life of a Kardashian – it’s the sectors that Facebook looked at in the next segment of its research: “For brands in automotive, financial services and retail, we found that Facebook paid media caused statistically significant lift in lower-funnel KPIs these advertisers care about, including online and offline sales.”

5 Fast Facts

1. Auto sector: When consumers were exposed to Facebook ads, they were more likely to search for branded keywords versus non-branded keywords. Facebook says the result of this search behavior made search ads almost 2 percent more effective for those studied (because branded keywords cost less than other keywords).

2. Financial services: Research found a 19 percent lift in paid search conversion volume and a 10 percent improvement in CPA with exposure to Facebook ads!

3. Retail space: Findings show significant boost in search return on ad spend (ROAS) in markets that included Facebook ads exposure.

4. Average order value grew from search conversions when paired with Facebook ads. Facebook says, “We can hypothesize that people seemed more comfortable spending more after first being exposed to Facebook paid media.”

5. Searches for physical store locations grew after exposure to Facebook ads. “We found that when people saw Facebook ads in addition to paid-search results, they were not only 13 percent more likely to buy online, they were also 79 percent more likely to seek out the brand’s physical store.”

TL;DR and Recommendations

Like we’ve known for years, multiple channels work together in your customer’s journey and Facebook ads are no exception. 

Of note is the impact of the mobile device in all of this, which, as the research points out, is no surprise as people go on to search from their mobile device when they’ve been served Facebook ads on mobile.

 I’ll leave you with a few recommendations based on the data, and you can download the full research here.

  • Create a story. Research suggest that “coordinating the timing, copy and messaging across both digital marketing channels, Facebook and search,” can help in driving traffic and conversions.
  • Measure all the things! Track the cross-channel effects of Facebook ads and search, especially watching mobile because “the resulting lift in search behavior from Facebook paid media exposure is disproportionately higher in mobile on average.”
  • Test and allocate budget. Facebook writes that “by applying a sufficient budget on these digital channels, a marketer could use Facebook to help drive discovery on Facebook and ultimately improve search objectives.”

So stop asking if Facebook advertising works; get out there and start testing ads on Facebook

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Comments

Alex Broderick-Forster
Jan 09, 2016

I'm getting some really impressive lift through right column desktop ads with brand-focused promotions.

For conversion tracking, Facebook defaults to 1 day after viewing and 28 days after clicking. If you set it to 28 days after viewing and 28 days after clicking, you can start to see the lift metrics.

Another helpful tip for lift is making the website and brand name easily visible. This can be as simple as leaving the display URL as the homepage.

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