For non-DR campaigns, social marketers often experience this conundrum: they can run social ads like other digital media, optimized for impressions or reach, but it doesn’t feel like they’re maximizing the value of their investment. After all, an engagement tells an advertiser that people aren’t just scrolling past an ad; they are physically stopping and reacting to the content.
The problem is that, as Facebook itself will say, engagements don’t really boost a company’s bottom line. Why? Because people willing to engage with a brand are not always the best customers, and vice versa. Put another way, there are a lot of customers who love and repeatedly purchase a brand’s products, but they have zero interest in engaging with the brand’s social ads—or any social ad—ever.
By running an engagement campaign, a marketer is instructing Facebook to optimize toward engagements. It does so by:
- Serving the designated ads to people it knows tend to engage with brand content.
- Actively excluding all other potential or current customers.
Hypothetically, let’s make the (very) generous assumption that 50% of a brand’s customers are willing to engage with an ad—that means every engagement campaign is excluding at least half of all potential/current customers.
That’s a big problem the new Brand Awareness objective helps solve. Technically speaking, Facebook is measuring Estimated Ad Recall Lift and Estimated Ad Recall Lift Rate. The former is the number of people who are likely to remember your ad two days after seeing it. The latter is that number divided by the number of people you’ve reached, expressed as a percentage.
While the exact formula for how Facebook calculates these metrics is unknown, what it boils down to is relative attention. The following example scenarios help explain the concept (note: the numbers below are illustrative and do not indicate how Facebook actually performs the calculations):
- A 13-year-old is a hyper-fast scroller and spends an average of 60 milliseconds eyeing an ad before moving on. So, if she spends just half a second (500 milliseconds) on an ad, Facebook deems that she has paid attention and increases the Estimated Ad Recall Lift by one.
- On the other end of the spectrum, you have an aging Boomer who spends an average of 30 seconds looking at everything in her feed. When served an ad, she spends 31 seconds on it. This is not significantly more attention, so Facebook notes the impression but does not count it towards a lift in Brand Awareness.
For marketers, the message is clear. To drive the strongest business results for branding campaigns, Brand Awareness ads will almost always be more impactful than an engagement campaign. In fact, Facebook’s data shows that Brand Awareness ads are 60 percent more effective at driving Ad Recall than the current Page Post Engagement solution.
Making this shift will result in some growing pains as total engagements and engagement rate drop. However, with the right creative, transitioning social strategy to focus more on Brand Awareness will ultimately impact the metric that matters most: social ROI.