Facebook Ads: Hip? Hype? Or Huh?
In our column last August, we wrote about “Facebook, Fundraising and the Dawn of a New Age.” We asserted that with the changes to Facebook advertising, Facebook was poised to play a much more important role in integrated and even stand-alone campaigns. So, now that we’ve been through an end-of-year campaign and a major disaster (Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines), what do the results look like? Short answer: small but promising.
First, let’s talk about the scale of recent tests
According to Adam Gerber of online fundraising and communications agency M+R Strategic Services, six of M+R’s clients (including CARE, PETA and U.S. Fund for UNICEF) conducted year-end tests with Facebook ad campaigns. Across these clients, the efforts raised $25,000 from Facebook Custom Audiences and Lookalike models. (CARE and another international relief client raised more money a few weeks earlier in response to Typhoon Haiyan.) What are these? Facebook Custom Audiences allow you to target supporters in your database with ads on Facebook; Lookalike models provide the ability to target people who are similar to your Custom Audience list(s).
Twenty-five thousand dollars? Total for six nonprofits? Isn’t that still peanuts — especially given the large size of these nonprofits? Perhaps, but these campaigns were in a test phase, and M+R believes there are significantly larger opportunities in the future — especially as we get a more comprehensive view of their impact. This data doesn’t take into consideration the impact these (and other) Facebook ads had on increasing response rates to emails, mail pieces and other donation vehicles as part of integrated campaigns.
M+R found, for example, that the ads to Facebook Custom Audiences lifted the response rates to coordinated email campaigns. We have found that display ads are typically more of a reinforcement channel than a conversion channel. Assuming the same is true for Facebook ads, the impact may well have been significantly larger. In addition, the $25,000 doesn’t include Facebook retargeting ads deployed by CARE (i.e., ads on Facebook targeting people who visited their donation pages and other key website pages but didn’t donate — check out our recent article on retargeting for more on this emerging strategy here).