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224: How to Prepare for the Future of Facebook Advertising

Posted by Austin Brawner on November 5, 2019


Due to Facebook’s influence, your website is less and less often the first place potential customers learn about your brand.

We don’t see this changing anytime soon. In fact, Facebook’s already moving to on-site checkout, removing the need to visit your website altogether.

Today we’re talking about the future of Facebook advertising and how we see it evolving. We discuss what Facebook’s plans are for the platform, as well as for Instagram, and how you can be prepared for what’s to come. 


Episode Highlights

  • 5:13 Why we’re talking about Facebook’s future and what you’ll learn today.
  • 6:53 What Facebook has planned for future interactive elements.
  • 9:04 How to use Instagram polls to increase engagement.
  • 11:17 The future of augmented reality on Facebook and how it could impact your CPM.
  • 14:22 Interactive games as ads: worth the hype or overrated?
  • 16:05 Andrew’s biggest takeaways about the future of Facebook advertising.

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Austin Brawner: What's up everybody? Welcome to another episode of the Ecommerce Influence Podcast. My name's Austin Brawner.

Andrew Foxwell: And I'm Andrew Foxwell. And let me tell you right out of the gates today, interesting little tidbit. There is a thunderstorm currently happening outside my window and it's quite loud, so if you hear the thunderstorm, I'm okay. Unless I suddenly go silent in this episode, then you know that I've been struck by lightning, but otherwise, I'm okay. That's what you hear outside.

Austin Brawner: The show must go on.

Andrew Foxwell: The show must go on.

Austin Brawner: If he gets struck and it goes silent, we're still going to release it.

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, exactly. I mean, the bad news is that building the podcasting studio outdoors in Wisconsin, just a bad idea in my part. I shouldn't have done that. Not thinking.

Austin Brawner: One of the things I want to talk about, Andrew, is how fired up I've been recently just talking to business owners about what they are doing and how they're building interesting businesses around their lifestyle.

I just got back from my Profit Summit in Boston, and it was interesting talking to three of the attendees and they all had very different ideas about what was exciting to them about running a business and why they were doing it, and they were just leaning into it. And it's been really inspiring. And every time I talked to a business owner who's got a business that supports their lifestyle and is growing, I'm just so fired up.

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah. I think that's really true. Maybe we've gone through a shift here in the last few years where people are starting to do that more, where it's not that the business is your entire life and it's more around how do I design this to work for me. And I think you're seeing that shift too in clothing.

People are buying less clothing, they want more quality, and even just I guess, clothing and stuff too. It makes me feel comfortable because that's where my head is at certainly. Right? It's like the money is fine for a business as long as we can support what we're wanting to do, which is basically just to travel and do other things, and everybody has their own independent goals.

And even those that are really growing, I think about that episode we had with Josh Meyer talking about they are the fastest-growing company in Maine and he sounded like they're working really hard, but you can tell that he's still living his life, he's still supporting his lifestyle, which is really cool and really inspiring to hear. And I think that's really, really neat.

Austin Brawner: I think it is interesting. I hope that's the way that the future is going and I think that the more options that we have, the more you start looking at different channels as kind of like tools for growth rather than just the inevitable channel you have to go in to continue to grow your business. It's more like tools to help you get to where you want to be.

In today's episode, really we wanted to dive into a tool and think about the future of this tool, a tool that most people use, and that is the future of Facebook advertising and what we see this tool evolving into.

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, absolutely. I think there's a lot of discussion obviously this year about what is happening with Facebook advertising and the competition that's arising. And I think that it will continue to settle in a lot like Google advertising, right, where it's something that people do that's a part of the mix.

I don't know if it's going to continue to be the lead that it has, and I think more people are going to continue to use more channels to diversify the sources that they had. I mean, for a long time you could just do Facebook and have a website and that was it, right? And I think that that time is going away, but it's still going to be part of it, and especially with Instagram, it's going to be part of it too.

So there's some big things that we saw in a report that Austin and I read from Facebook about the future of Facebook advertising and what it looks like. And on the episode around this podcast generally, we talk about tactics a lot but not as much around what we know will be happening or what Facebook has said on the roadmap, so that's basically why we wanted to bring this to you today to help us all be better prepared for the next year and years looking forward on Facebook advertising.

Austin Brawner: So today you can expect that you're going to learn what Facebook's plan for their platform, and not just Facebook, but also Instagram. We're kind of using that synonymously. So let's kick it off Andrew, and dive into let's talk a little bit about interactive elements, what that is, what that means and what Facebook has planned for interactive elements.

Andrew Foxwell: Absolutely. So "interactive elements" is this phrase that Facebook is using more often and they have come out and said that 60% of businesses on Instagram use an interactive element, like a mention, a hashtag or a poll sticker in stories every month, and this is data from 2019.

So that's interesting that there's some sort of mention, you're tagging someone, you're using a hashtag that's categorizing it a certain way, or a poll sticker in the Instagram story. They make the platform stickier, right? So they're looking to introduce more of them.

I mean, I think if you think about the platform generally about animated gifs, you think about Facebook Lives or Instagram Lives, reactions, people using face filters and stickers, we're only seeing more of those elements, not less, become part of the experience of being on Instagram and Facebook.

So one general direction they're heading for advertisers is to bring those elements into advertising units. And an example of this is what we talked about earlier this year on the podcast is polls on Instagram story ads on paid Instagram story ads, right? Where you can put a poll on there and you can say, "Vote one way or another," and they've been actually a good performer from a direct response standpoint and they get feedback from potential customers.

So think about the value of something like that. Someone clicks on the poll, then they're added to an engager custom audience within your Facebook ads, and then you're able to turn up the engager custom audiences because of their vote on a poll.

So that's one thing that I think is important to think about these interactive elements becoming more of that experience and how we as advertisers are going to have to bring those things into the creative that we're putting out there.

Austin Brawner: And why don't you dive in, just to give people a rundown, you mentioned that polls on paid Instagram story ads are really been top performers. What are people typically doing there? What are the types of questions that they're asking on a poll that leads to a response that then they reengage?

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah. So I mean, it's a yes or no. It's a 50/50. You only have the opportunity to choose two options now. Obviously, potentially by the time that this podcast even comes out, that'll be changed. But what people have been using it essentially, and I have been using it successfully by saying, "here's what this product is. Do you like this? Yes or no?"

And sometimes I won't even put a no, I'll just say yes, and then in the other option I'll put use code FD15 for 15% off at checkout or something in the poll.

A way that a Buffy uses it, a big advertiser in the United States that we talked to Shoaib on this podcast, the co-founder of Buffy, they actually put out there Instagram stories that say, "Are you hot at night" or "do you run hot as a sleeper? Yes or no?" And so they're asking questions that are centering on their product experience and then you're obviously able to re-market to those custom audiences. So that's pretty cool.

I mean, Facebook has now said they're announcing video poll ads to the Facebook mobile feed. So you're going to be able to have a live video and then have a poll that's attached to that particular video as well. So it's like Instagram stories but kind of in its own Facebook format. So that's something that's globally available now for everybody as well.

Austin Brawner: That's very interesting.

Andrew Foxwell: So I think we'll start to test that and see how that works. But the point of what I'm trying to say here is think about interactive elements and thinking about when you're developing creative and strategies, just like you're asking more questions and developing relationships with your customers or potential customers on your email list, transferring that to your Facebook and Instagram creative is a big one as well.

Austin Brawner: So not only is Facebook talking about interactive questions, but also they're diving in and considering like AR, augmented reality. What are they thinking about? What have they publicly talked about in this space of augmented reality that they're going to be focusing on?

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah. I mean, I think if you look at something like Snapchat first and you look at the lenses that Snapchat has that allow you to augment reality right in front of you using your camera on your phone, okay, which is nuts. I mean, if you don't want to use Snapchat, I don't care. It's fine. But if you've not downloaded it and just played around with what you can do on Snapchat with lenses, it's nuts.

And Facebook is becoming, through Instagram too, more sophisticated in this regard. There's a billion stories shared per day on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp now, which is wild.

And the example that you may have seen in this is you can try on sunglasses. So you actually see an ad, maybe you've seen this in Alpha, this was available in some parts of the world in 2019, where you see an ad for sunglasses, you click on it, it loads an experience, it pulls up your camera, and then you actually swipe through the different sunglasses and you try them on on the camera and you can take a photo of it and send it to your friends via Messenger, etc.

There's also been an Alpha you may have seen that is trying on different shades of lipstick, if you're somebody that buys makeup a lot.

So that's kind of where we're headed, I think. One is augmenting reality outwardly, having that camera facing outward, and then the other one is facing inward, looking at you and allowing you to actually try on products.

So I saw an example from Shopify as well where they were talking early testing about taking products from an ad, selecting it from your Shopify store, putting it in AR and allowing you to set that on your shelf and see what it looks like. So this is kind of what we mean in terms of the interactive elements considering AR.

Facebook came out and said on some of these interactive elements, the sunglasses example or lipstick example, that the average person spent 38 seconds on the ad, which is, I mean, that's wild. 38 seconds, right? Obviously it's going to be in higher CPMs, but think about your conversion rate on something like that. It could be really, really impactful.

Austin Brawner: It's exciting. It's interesting.

Andrew Foxwell: So that's something to think about is where it's headed.

Austin Brawner: And especially if you have a product that involves ... I mean, the products that typically struggle are the ones that you want to see in person, right? And like just taking that out of it because they're going to be so good at being able to have you try it on at home, it's really, really quite compelling.

So there's also talk about interactive games as ads. What does that look like? What are your thoughts on it? Is it exciting, not exciting? Where do you see interactive games going?

Andrew Foxwell: I mean, that's another big one that they're talking a lot about now and I wanted to mention here because it's not as exciting to me. It's less of a vehicle for direct response, but I do know that we have listeners to this podcast from really big companies that we've heard from recently and some of you that are branded advertisers might be interested in it, where you work with a developer and of course, eventually you'll be able to probably build these on your own to some degree.

But the example that Facebook uses is a skateboarding game that Vans built with their agency of record that allows you to basically skateboard through an ad, and depending on what happens in the game, it ties to a discount code or a product that they serve you.

So, I mean, obviously that's not going to be for everybody, but here's where it becomes interesting is if they do this and they started seeing interactive games as ads and they start to activate even some small fraction of gamification as it relates to Shopify and they allow us to easily, as merchants, have a game built that maybe there's five default games you could set up and you could try to get people more engaged with your store. The doors open automatically, right? And it would be logical for Shopify to want to do that.

So that's kind of an interesting thing. So I think right away it's not as much of an opportunity, but interactive games are definitely going to be part of it as well.

So the big takeaways, I guess, as it relates to this, and Austin then I'm curious of your take, my big ones are that the website or your website is going to continue to be shifted away from in some sense as the first place prospective customers to go to learn about your products.

Facebook is doing things like the in-app checkout, on Instagram, they have Instagram checkout, eliminating the friction of the site, and I think that that is an interesting piece. I mean, clearly your website's still going to be a really important one, but allowing customers to check out quickly is going to be huge.

The other one that I think is a big takeaway from this is every single one of these options would allow for more audiences to be created on Facebook elements, and Facebook's really taken a beating for their pixel usage on website cookies and tracking. And so you know what doesn't have any of those restrictions is the Facebook interactive content, and the more users that can be kept on their properties, the better and long-lasting those advertising audiences will be.

So it won't be just engagement custom audiences in the future, it will be voted on a poll, it will be added a sticker to their story with yours on it or something, right? So it'll be more interactive and it will allow you as an advertiser to take advantage of those.

Austin Brawner: It's super interesting. Bezos famously said, "Your margin is my opportunity," and I see this kind of fight lining up with Facebook, Shopify, Amazon, in the sense that Facebook has made so much of their money from advertising and owning data and Shopify makes their money from transactions that are done on the site.

Ultimately, they both end up with incredible amounts of data and Shopify has got all your customer data. So, where's the margin? Right? The margin for Facebook is looking and targeting at the checkout that they could potentially provide on their own site, right, which is shifting it away from your website upstream to where people are actually learning about the products, because there's anywhere between 2 and 3% on every single transaction that they could be taking, which is interesting, and you can see why they want to move that there.

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah. I mean, I think that's one thing. I think you could clearly see an opportunity too where it's something like checkout powered by Shopify, right? Where you can't use the Facebook checkout function unless your catalog is brought in from, mostly through Shopify, right? You're going to use Shopify to make sure your product catalog is tied in. I think that's potentially another one.

Another big takeaway is the importance of your product catalog in this and having ads that are served that are really product specific and not as much broad, here's our best sellers.

So anyway, it's kind of interesting. But when I read this I thought, you know what, the podcast audience needs to talk about and we need to get into this, and hopefully you found this interesting because I think it will make us all better if we think forward in terms of what are the things we need to be ready for as we plan. And if you're thinking about, "I've been on the line about hiring a designer" or something like that, right, this may be a part where you're saying that it's going to be only more important as time goes on, especially somebody that can do video, manipulate things in video, I think is going to be a huge shakeup on the competition.

Austin Brawner: Sure. Well, love to hear your guys' thoughts. Hit us up on Twitter. That would be the best place to air out your thoughts, grievances about Facebook or ideas about the future of Facebook ads. We'd love to hear it. Thanks so much for joining. Hope this is helpful. And we will talk to you guys on the next episode.

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Austin Brawner: What's up everybody? Welcome to another episode of the Ecommerce Influence Podcast. My name's Austin Brawner.

Andrew Foxwell: And I'm Andrew Foxwell. And let me tell you right out of the gates today, interesting little tidbit. There is a thunderstorm currently happening outside my window ...

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