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News: Facebook Reach Estimates Are Finally Back!

July 11, 2019

Welcome back, everyone! For those of you in the US, I hope you enjoyed a restful 4th of July weekend. While we were grillin’ up hot dogs and failing to protect our skin, the online advertising world continued to change. Let’s run through the most recent updates you need to know about.

Facebook revives reach estimates for custom audiences

Nearly a year and a half after retiring them to investigate a privacy concern detected by researchers at Northwestern University, Facebook has announced the revival of reach estimates for custom audiences. Bolstered by new security measures that prevent the exploitation of user data, reach estimates will be gradually reintroduced to Facebook Ads accounts—on a randomized basis—between now and the end of the year.

A custom audience, for those who may not know, is simply a group of Facebook users who’ve previously interacted with your business in some way. When creating a custom audience, you get to decide which interaction you’d like to focus on. So, depending on your advertising goals, you can use your custom audience to target past customers, recent website visitors, or users who’ve engaged with your Facebook content.

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Because you can take your targeting parameters in so many different directions, the potential reach of a given custom audience—that is, the number of unique users who see your ad—can fluctuate pretty widely. That’s why Facebook initially created reach estimates—to give you an accurate idea of how many unique users you’ll likely reach given the targeting parameters you’ve set. From a practical standpoint, this is super valuable information. Whereas a high reach estimate could save you from wasting your money on worthless impressions and clicks, a low reach estimate could indicate that your targeting is too narrow to be effective.

Google increases delivery of app ads on search

In order to expand the pool of consumers that app advertisers can reach with their paid search campaigns, Google has announced their decision to serve app ads to iOS mobile users more often. If you use Google Ads to promote a mobile app, you’ll see app installs and in-app conversions from iOS browsers included in your campaign reporting at some point this month.

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As those of you running app campaigns (formerly known as universal app campaigns) already know, the search results page is only one of many places your app ads can show; Google Play, the display network, YouTube, and search partner websites are also fair game. According to last week’s announcement, however, only your search ads will be expanding to more users.

Although this isn’t a huge change, you should certainly keep an eye on the amount of money you’re spending each day. Because running an app campaign means allowing Google Ads to optimize your bids according to your goals, there’s always a chance of things getting out of hand. Watch your bids carefully over the next few weeks to make sure you’re not over-spending.

Microsoft rolls out new prominence metrics for Bing

Responding to demands for deeper insights into SERP visibility, Microsoft Advertising (formerly known as Bing Ads) has introduced a slew of new metrics for search advertisers. Explicitly part of the effort to achieve parity with Google Ads, these new prominence metrics aim to give Bing advertisers a better idea of how they’re performing on the SERPs and what they can do to optimize going forward.

Here’s the full list of metrics you’ll see in your Microsoft Advertising account this month—all of which will be available at the campaign, ad group, and keyword levels:

  • Top impression share: The share of impressions coming from the top of the SERP 
  • Top impression share lost to budget: How much top impression share you’re losing due to budgetary constraints 
  • Top impression share lost to rank: How much top impression share you’re losing due to auction performance 
  • Absolute top impression share: The share of impressions coming from the number one search result 
  • Absolute top impression share lost to budget: How much absolute top impression share you’re losing due to budgetary constraints 
  • Absolute top impression share lost to rank: How much absolute top impression share you’re losing due to auction performance
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Via Microsoft.

An interesting note from the announcement blog post: Average position—which Google Ads retired earlier this year—is here to stay. According to Nahva Tecklu, the program manager who wrote the post, Bing advertisers have made it exceedingly clear that they’d like to keep average position as a prominence metric. This goes to show how divise Google’s decision was.

Instagram’s (slowly) bringing ads to the Explore tab

Aiming to better connect advertisers with users and to capitalize on its (still) growing popularity, Instagram has announced that they’ll be “slowly and thoughtfully” introducing ads to the Explore tab over the next few months. As of now, when a user clicks on an image or a video included in their Explore tab, the scrollable feed that opens up may include paid content from relevant brands. To begin, those brands will be hand-picked by Instagram to serve as guinea pigs for this new ad product. Later this year, we’ll get a broader roll-out to more advertisers.

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Via Social Media Today.

This news follows close on the heels of Instagram’s decision to give Explore a pretty substantial facelift—introducing Stories content and redesigning the top navigation bar to encourage users to adopt Shopping as well as IGTV. Given that the majority of Instagram users check out their Explore tabs at least once a month—and given that the app as a whole has grown out of its reputation as a fun social media platform and emerged as a legitimate hub for ecommerce—its monetization makes complete sense.

While watching Instagram’s animation of how Explore ads work (shown above in pieces), I can’t help but think of another ad type that was recently introduced—Google’s new discovery ads. Although Instagram and Google are fundamentally different platforms, Explore and Discover are clearly designed to achieve the same goal: to connect users with content they haven’t seen before. Because users turn to Explore and Discover when they’re in the mood to discover new content, it follows that many of them would be open discovering new businesses as well. Essentially, both Explore ads and discovery ads enable advertisers to initiate valuable touchpoints and to introduce their brands to relevant audiences. From these high-funnel interactions, of course, come the sales all businesses need to succeed.

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Conor Bond

Conor Bond writes words about stuff on the WordStream blog. He likes to drink coffee, play basketball, and pretend he doesn't care about his inadequate facial hair.