Study: Facebook Ads That Tell A Brand Story Beat Traditional Performance Ads

Adaptly Facebook test of Refinery29 funnel ad series vs. standard CTA ads

A new study tested a sequence of Facebook ads (left) that took users through the marketing funnel versus a set of standard  call-to-action ads (right).

What if, instead of focusing on getting the immediate conversion from key prospects, a social media ad campaign served a set of creatives sequentially to tell the brand story and lead viewers through the marketing funnel before going for the hard sell?

A new study shows that a sequential story-telling social media ad campaign can outperform a typical campaign in which each ad is designed to generate an immediate conversion.

The study, conducted by social media advertising platform and services firm, Adaptly, Facebook, and fashion and style publisher, Refinery29, found that showing the sequence of ads to an audience of targeted prospects increased view-throughs by 87 percent and email subscriptions by 56 percent. When consumers saw the entire ad sequence, an advertiser’s ability to lead a consumer down the brand funnel to convert was significantly stronger.

“By telling the Refinery29 story during the acquisition process, and building awareness and consideration before driving to conversion, we were able to increase our return-on-investment and ultimately acquire a more informed and qualified subscriber,”  Melissa Goidel, chief revenue officer at Refinery29 in a statement.

The Test

The team built a lookalike audience of over 2 million high-target prospects from a Facebook Custom Audience of Refinery29′s best email subscribers. The audience was randomly divided into three groups: a control, which saw no ads from Refinery29, a sequenced for CTA group and a sustained CTA group.

Refinery29 designed three ads for the sequenced for CTA group with the first ad designed for a top of funnel brand introduction, the second for mid-funnel brand consideration that linked to a popular article and a third bottom of the funnel ad with a strong email sign-up call to action. For the sustained CTA group, all three ads were distinctly CTA-driven. “There difference is subtle, but there is a smoother continuum down the customer journey in the sequenced for CTA creatives,” said Sean O’Neal, President of Adaptly by phone yesterday.

Each ad in both groups was shown for four days and similar bidding strategies were used across the groups. The ads were shown in the news feed on desktop.

Adaptly focused on two performance metrics: the percentage of people who visited the Refinery29 landing pages and the percentage who subscribed to Refinery29 emails.

The Results

Looking at both key performance indicators, the sequencing creative generated more interest in the landing page and a higher number of email subscriptions than the traditional sustained CTA approach.

Sequenced for CTA vs Sustained CTA

Interestingly, the “Consideration” ad creative — the second, mid-funnel ad that linked to an article in the sequencing by CTA group — as the strongest individual ad. The content marketing approach generated the highest number of view-throughs and, by far, the highest number subscriptions of all the ads in both groups. The first ad in the sustained CTA group had the second-best performance, while the first ad in the sequence of CTA group — the softest, top of funnel ad designed to introduce the brand — not surprisingly, converted weakest of all the ads.

In both groups, when people were exposed to all three ad creatives, they converted at the highest rates. The sequenced for CTA series solidly outperformed the sustained CTA group. “Performance was always best when all three ads were seen,” said O’Neal.

Conversions increased with opportunity to see full ad series

Nikhil Sethi, CEO at Adaptly said in a statement, “some advertisers may find it counterintuitive to elongate a campaign as a way to more gradually bring their audience through the purchase funnel, rather than more immediately delivering a call-to-action. But we have proven that this classic brand-building approach it is both effective and efficient, even for direct response advertising.”

The full white paper with more detail is available for download here.

Related Topics: Channel: Social Media Marketing | Facebook | Facebook: Advertising | Social Media Marketing | Social Media Marketing: Advertising | Top News


About The Author: writes about paid online marketing topics including paid search, paid social, display and retargeting. Beyond Search Engine Land, Ginny provides search marketing and demand generation advice for ecommerce companies. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter

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  • Tom Bush

    I think you need to fix the link, it still has your domain prefixed to it. Thanks for the write-up!

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