What we learned running over 100 million Facebook Ads in 2019
As a marketing agency that specializes in marketing to musicians, we get a unique insight into what musicians want. In 2019, that included us managing well over 100 million ads on Facebook and Instagram that targeted musicians. Thanks to our varied customer base, that included some ads targeting musicians by specific instrument and others that targeted musicians in general. Each year we study the data from our overall efforts to learn what is working best when marketing to musicians. In this post, I wanted to share with you some of the key things that we learned.
The Best Performing Facebook/Instagram Ads
When looking at the content that performed the best in our Facebook and Instagram ads, we saw a clear trend away from anything that looked like a product ad. We can summarize what we saw work the best as educate, entertain, and relate. Ads that were playing-oriented product demos did well. Those that included helpful information on how to improve performance did even better. Ads with a lot of text or claims from the company did poorly.
Pro Tip: Help your potential customers solve a problem. Hopefully, you offer a product that solves a problem your customer is experiencing. Create ads and content that lead with those solutions.
Videos outperformed all other ads by a wide margin! Videos delivered more engagement, a higher impact on brand recognition, and more clicks.
Videos for the Win
We ran ads with a single image, several multiple-image ad-types, and lots of video ads. The statistics could not be more clear — videos outperformed all other ads by a wide margin! Videos delivered more engagement, a higher impact on brand recognition, and more clicks. The second-best performing ad-type was the Slideshow ad, which essentially turns multiple images into a video slideshow.
Pro Tip: In most cases audio is muted by default on videos as people scroll through their feed; you need to plan for this in your videos. Consider adding text on-screen if you have talking in your video. Also consider adding a call-to-action element during the first 5 seconds that encourages people to turn their volume up.
Over 75% of all of the ads that we ran in 2019 were viewed on a mobile device. Users mostly view their Facebook and Instagram feeds on their phones, which is clearly reflected in our results. Do you think about this when planning your ads? Does the page that your ads send people to work well on a mobile device? Most of the brands in the musical instrument industry that we work with are now seeing 60%+ of their overall traffic coming in on phones. Doing mobile well with ads, landing pages, and your website is critical.
Pro Tip: This observation and the others in this blog also apply to your organic posts on Facebook and Instagram. Make sure every post you publish and every link that you share is mobile-optimized.
We test thousands of combinations related to the targeting of ads on both Facebook and Instagram. Targeting by “interest” remains a core approach and striking the balance between having a large enough audience to work and keeping your targeting tight enough to allow for a good ROI is tricky.
When possible, target musicians by their instrument played and have an ad that will “speak” to them. For instance, when we are running ads for a pro audio product that appeals to musicians in general we will run one ad version for guitar players and another for drummers. The ad for guitar players will show a guitar, talk about how this product makes life better for a guitar player and we will target only guitar players. Then we will have a different ad set for our drummer target. We are seeing this work better than anything that we have tested that use terms like “musician” or just mix different instrument categories together.
Beyond the interest targeting, be sure to watch the other options like age, gender, and location. For age, test different age ranges to find who your most engaged customers are. In 2019, we saw a measurable increase in engagement by female musicians. This is an awesome trend, so make sure you are not setting your ads to male-only. Use the Location settings to run your ads in the best areas for your business and product.
Pro Tip: Want to target people near your music store or participating dealer? Start by using the standard default geographic targeting that Facebook offers (city, zip code, etc), but make sure that you select “People Who Live In This Location.” This is in a pull-down option in the “Locations” area within Facebook Business. The default is “everyone in this location,” which means that your ad will be served to tourists or people just passing through. For most businesses, selecting “people living in this location” can improve ad performance for local marketing by as much as 10%.
Stories are Trending Up
Part of our analysis is to look for what is trending up throughout the year to help our clients get ahead of the trends. One of the big waves that we rode over the last few months and expect to benefit from in the first half of the new year is Stories ads. Instagram Stories has been gaining big-time momentum, with more regular viewers and more time spent by users. Facebook Stories are now also gaining traction and Facebook is delivering the Stories experience in other Facebook properties. We hope that you are active in Stories with your regular content posting efforts, but want to also give you a heads up that Stories ads are killing it.
This is a simple supply-and-demand opportunity that we are seeing play out in our ad performance results. The supply of available ad inventory is increasing, as more people spend more time on Stories, but fewer businesses run Stories ads since it is indeed a little more challenging. You can take a standard image ad and run it in Stories, but that is not where we are seeing the best results. The real win is when you can create a 15-second video ad formatted for the vertical format of Stories. Conveying a strong message in this short time is not easy, nor is it ideal that you likely want to create a videos specific to this use-case. However, with the results that we are seeing we want to tell you that it is worth doing.
If you are marketing to guitar players, drummers, bass players, horn players, or any other musician there is no doubt that the reach and tight targeting potential of Facebook and Instagram ads can be one of your most potent tools. In the ads that we ran in 2019, we saw the amazing advantage that these platforms can deliver and we are very optimistic about 2020. We encourage you to leverage as much of our learning as possible and we wish you a happy and successful 2020!!