At CES 2020, Facebook announced that four million of the social network’s seven million advertisers are using the Story ads format across Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. This marks significant growth from the three million advertisers reported by the company in April 2019.
With such a steep increase in spending for Stories, it’s fair to wonder how marketers should adjust their approach to social ads to get the most bang for their bucks. Rapid improvements to ad tech put a greater emphasis on performance in recent years at the expense of creativity, but that’s about to change.
Ads that are designed specifically to the Stories format are performing better – simply running your news feed ads, or cuts from your TVC assets, in Stories won’t bring you the best results. Visually engaging ads enable brands to tell their story in a more expressive manner, capturing and holding the attention of today’s easily distracted consumer.
Stories are convincing CMOs of the importance of being visually striking in a world where everyone’s feeds are chock full of professional-grade visuals. It’s not enough to be “good enough” anymore – to stand out from the crowd your ads must be both beautifully crafted and communicate your message in seconds.
The bottom line is that content that ‘looks like an ad’ will be ignored, but content that blends in seamlessly alongside the content that consumers are already consuming on social will have a much greater shot at capturing attention.
Here at Smartly.io, it’s our belief that the creative capabilities of story-style content will ultimately overtake news feed consumption. And, consumers tend to agree. We surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers over the holidays and found that compelling or engaging video (35 percent) is a top factor influencing consumers’ decision to buy a product through a social media ad, followed by customer testimonials (32 percent) and influencer participation (26 percent).
However, as many companies leverage these powerful and creative advertising formats, the competition to capture consumers’ attention is at an all-time high. Brands that can create and deliver visually engaging Story ads – single or a Carousel, in a vertical format, with short videos – will see increased campaign conversions and deliver the greatest return on ad spend.
When developing Stories, advertisers need to keep consumer ad fatigue in mind. Campaigns that aren’t carefully crafted and delivered can cause a negative reaction from your target audience
There are three main elements that creative and performance teams should focus on to create powerful Story ads.
TUI, one of the world’s largest travel groups, launched Facebook Story Ads to kick-off one of its biggest campaigns: the Big Smile Weeks. Using video templates, TUI was able to produce creative that pulled dynamic content from their destination catalog, ensuring consistency throughout the campaign – even when running at 100x volume of variations.
Each ad had a clear value proposition, such as destinations and prices, with plenty of blank space not to distract from the messaging. As a result, Click-Through-Rates increased by 14 percent, and Facebook Stories creatives cut the Cost-per-Acquisition by 12 percent.
Overall, consumers are spending more time immersed in stories than scrolling through news feeds. Luckily for advertisers, the story ad format offers more display options than other social formats.
How your Stories look and function will determine whether consumers engage with it, especially in a saturated marketplace. When crafted intentionally – using great copy and creative with a clear call to action – you’ll be sure to get the most out of your investment.
Robert Rothschild is the VP and Global Head of Marketing at Smartly.io, the leading social media advertising automation platform. With more than 25 years’ experience in the B2B tech, digital marketing and customer experience industries, Robert has led and developed global marketing initiatives for high-profile enterprise software and technology companies.
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