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What do Facebook Story Ads mean for Brands?

Facebook Story Ads
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Since Facebook opened Stories to users first and brands later, the response has been less than enthusiastic.

Brands were quick to join the new feature but lack of general adoption by users and weak reporting capabilities made Stories for Facebook pages a tool that has not been viewed as pivotal in brands’ marketing efforts.

Fast forward to mid-2018 and brands would still be questioning the value of Facebook Stories, had Facebook not revealed that they now receive 150M daily viewers and –more importantly- that ads are becoming available.

It took Facebook more than a year to reach 150M users whereas it took Instagram less than six months to reach the same number of people

The comparison is crucial because when it comes to advertising, Instagram Stories ads illuminate what marketers can expect from their Facebook counterpart.  

Ads in Instagram Stories quickly became integral to brands advertising endeavours

Instagram in return provided numerous capabilities to make it even easier for advertisers to include Stories in their ad placements. Features such as the ability to select organic Stories to advertise and full screen support with creatives which normally do not conform to the Stories’ image ratio were welcomed and immediately adopted by advertisers. Most advertisers are confident that support of these features will continue on ads in Facebook stories as the placement is gradually becoming available.

The lack of organic Facebook Stories to place ads between is an issue which Facebook apparently took into consideration

To solve the lack of available inventory and ensure that the budget that advertisers choose to dedicate to test their ads are actually being used, selecting “Facebook Stories” as the sole placement to run an ad on is not an option at the moment. Advertisers who wish to advertise on Facebook Stories must also choose either Instagram Stories or Facebook feeds as placements. This is hardly an impediment as Facebook and Instagram Stories ads are only natural to be seen as complementary and to be used in tandem.

Advertisers usually don’t need much persuasion to test a new ad type by Facebook. But for those who do, Instagram Story Ads have significant advantages that advertisers hope Facebook will inherit

The most important of them being CPM. CPM is the metric which measures cost/1,000 impressions and in comparison with Feed ads, a significant number of advertisers has seen Stories ads being served with a much lower CPM. That is particularly important when we take into consideration the struggle for many brands to expand their Reach. Facebook itself has embraced this line of thinking and has introduced campaigns which aim at increasing Reach and buying methods which control Frequency and predict Reach.

Facebook Story Ads could be ideal for Branding

Provided that Facebook Stories ads will also have lower CPMs than Newsfeed ads (and early tests confirm that they do) the new ad format will be ideal for branding purposes and for advertisers who wish to inexpensively increase the frequency and expand the reach of their messages.

Moreover, Stories ads show very respectable CTR figures on Instagram

If this continues to be the case on Facebook, advertisers can find an alternative to the standard Newsfeed single image/single video/carousel link ads they have been running for years and explore new creative paths with Facebook Stories ads when links and call to actions are supported.  

With the advent of Stories ads on Facebook, many page managers hoped to see Facebook up their game in terms of the overall reporting for Facebook Stories

The truth is that reporting on Facebook Pages’ organic Stories had been rudimentary at best. Facebook had launched a “Stories” section in its Insights tab for pages but the level of reporting page managers got was not comparable to the reporting levels that Facebook supports and provides for other of its products. Fortunately, Facebook announced that enhanced reporting features are expected for Stories. These will be available for 14 days from the “Insights” tab and will include unique story opens, forward taps, backward taps, forward swipes and exits.

In conclusion, brands should embrace the new advertising placement by Facebook. If Instagram Stories ads are any indication, brands will see excellent CPM levels, solid CTRs and new creative opportunities to explore. They should compare the results both to other on-Facebook placements (like the Newsfeed) as well as off-Facebook placements (like ads in Instagram Stories) to leverage opportunities that work best for them.

Chris Palamidis

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