A Beginner’s Guide to Facebook Ads

15 February 2018 | 19 Comments

I have a confession: I like Facebook ads.

It’s true. When I’m scrolling through my Facebook feed, I like seeing ads and sponsored posts. I don’t like all Facebook ads, nor would I ever want my feed to be only ads, but I like seeing ads targeted to me. They keep me informed, and they give me options.

I’ve noticed over the last week or so that a fellow creator, Casey Hill, has run some interesting Facebook ads. I have very little experience with that subject, so I asked Casey if he would be willing to write a guest post with lots of pictorial examples and data. Thanks for doing this, Casey!

Please note that I heavily edited this post, but Casey’s original intended meaning has been preserved.

***

Hello! For my day job I work as an marketing consultant at a SaaS company called ONTRAPORT, and I also am the founder of Hill Gaming Company, where our first game, Arkon, is currently live on Kickstarter. From my experience, besides BoardGameGeek, Facebook Ads are your best bet in the tabletop gaming space for conversions (Twitter, Reddit had lower conversions for us and we have heard the same from many other established founders).

While I do lots of work with marketing tactics, I am new to marketing in the game world. So I recognize that the following tips have worked fairly well for me but might not apply to all games. I am definitely continuing to learn and adapt even on our own campaign, and I would love to share some tips with you!

Facebook Events (pre-launch)

A good way to gauge support for your launch is a Facebook event. This gives people a centralized location to get behind the campaign and lets you track support in a quantifiable way. If you want to run some ads to drum up support, Go to Ad Manager -> Create Ad -> Engagement -> Event

For our event, the “Attending” Category converted at 85% (125/146) and the “Interested” Category, which was almost completely acquired through marketing ads converted at 15% (49/330). I would advise being careful with your budget here, as you might see that many people are interested, but the conversion rate for those people is much lower than those who select “Attending.”

Facebook Ads (post-launch)

I’ll walk you through the various steps and considerations when setting up and fine-tuning Facebook ads.

  1. On Kickstarter, look on your dashboard to select a Custom Referral Tag. The tag will allow you to differentiate the performance of different ads that Kickstarter would otherwise lump into one category. You may need several of these so Kickstarter can break down the data for you (though, oddly, they don’t give you specific titles for each tag):

2. Create an ad in Facebook. Ad Manager -> Create Ad -> Traffic. It’s here that you will set your demographic target. This will vary by game, and it might require some experimentation. We found that we perform best in the US/UK for 22-40 year olds.

Note from Jamey: I added this screenshot to help you find where the “Create Ads” button is on Facebook.

3. Detailed targeting is the next step. It’s here that you fill in interests, like Tabletop Games or Magic the Gathering and these are all treated as OR conditions.

However, you can also select the “Narrow Further” command shown below. What that will allow you to do is to say, show me people who like Tabletop Games AND Kickstarter. You would never want to put Kickstarter in the regular interests bucket as it is too broad, but targeting people that like both Tabletops AND Kickstarter is one of our most effective groups.

4. Next, choose your placements. Facebook will default to Automatic Placements. Automatic placements will get you the most clicks for the cheapest cost, but this method does not discern between converting clicks. Clicks from Mobile, Tablet, and the Facebook Ad Network typically convert poorly, as do right-column ads.

Instead, I recommend limiting your ads to “Desktop Only” and turning off sidebar ads under “Edit Placements”. When you change these settings your cost per click will go up, but the conversions should increase too (20% for us).

5. Construct the content for your ad. This is part writing, part visual. For the ad description, I recommend short phrases. I used to write 3-4 sentence explanations of why our game was unique for FB ads, but they performed FAR worse than “Arkon is on Kickstarter! Funded in 3 hours! Only $20”. (Thanks to James Hudson of Druid City Games for this fix!)

For the visual element, we found that a polished photo (bottom image below) of the actual game has outperformed digital renders (top image below) in conversions by about 10-15%.

6. Split Test! When building your ad, try this test. Create 3 identical ads under a campaign. Switch only 1 variable at a time. So say, identical picture, identical copy but one targets “Pandemic AND Kickstarter”, one targets “MTG and Kickstarter” and one targets “Tabletop AND Kickstarter”. Compare your results and learn from them.

If you have a tight budget like we did, start with $10/day per ad and then switch over to a winner after you test conversions over the course of 5 days. Because of the low budget, make sure you give a MINIMUM of 5 days for statistical significance. The longer the better here, but we have found ads that we tested for only 1-2 days sometimes normalized and had worse results afterwards, whereas 5+ day winners typically continued to perform.

The first ad–the one with 2,514 clicks–featured the digital render image and launched on Day 1. It won in the first few days and we ran with it. After about 8 days though, we started to notice (a) relevance score was dipping as frequency ticked up and (b) our newly split tested deck image ads (that were desktop only, unlike our first ad) were converting better.

Improving the Ad

Once the ad is live, there are a couple things you may want to monitor:

Reach and Impressions. Reach shows you many people saw your ad at least once, and impressions indicates how many total times the ad has been shown. A reach of 3,000 indicates a good sample size for you to dig deeper into the other data.

Frequency. Frequency indicates how many times each person sees the same ad. A frequency of 3 or less is ideal–if it goes above that, your targeted demographics may be too narrow.

Relevance Score. This indicates how well your audience is responding to your ad (more info here). Positive interactions are opening the ad, clicking on the links, etc; negative responses would be reporting as not relevant, not opening up ad, etc. I recommended aiming for a score of 7 or higher, and if it dips below that, revise the ad or adjust the targeting.

Summary:

  1. Use FB traffic ads with Custom Referral Tags from KS to track conversions and clicks.
  2. Use AND conditions for your “Detailed Targeting”.
  3. Use “Edit Placements” to select Desktop Only and turn off side feed placements.
  4. Use short copy in your ads.
  5. Use high-quality photos of game itself and split test.
  6. Aim for 3,000+ impressions and above before making any decision on ad viability.
  7. Keep your frequency no more than 3 and your relevance score above 7.

***

Thanks, Casey, for writing this detailed post! Good luck with the rest of the Arkon campaign.

What are your thoughts on Facebook ads? As a consumer, do you find them helpful, or do you ignore them? As a creator, have you found them to be effective?

Before I forget, BackerKit mentioned to me yesterday that they’re running a conference in early March for crowdfunders and creators. If you’re in San Francisco on March 9 and 10, feel free to use this discount code to sign up for the Bond conference (and let me know how it is!)

Also read:

19 Comments on “A Beginner’s Guide to Facebook Ads

  1. Thanks Jamey and Casey, this is a great overview on an important topic. I frequently take screenshots of other people’s ads to get new ideas on copy and graphic choice :) so it’s nice to be able to see more about your approach here.

  2. Casey, these insights and clever use of “AND” is a wonderful post! Thank you so much for sharing this Casey, and Jamey as well!

  3. Hey Casey, thanks for this, lots of great ideas here I can’t wait to try! I was curious what kind of ROAS you get with the above setup/optimizations?

    1. Our CPA for customers with FB ads is around $7.00. This still oscillates as we have had some very good days, and days like today that were poor (we have noticed that when modifying ad spend, either up or down, the FB algo typically takes time to adjust and it can temporarily drop CTR). You also have to incorporate in cancellations at around 5%-7%, which affects ROAS. At the end of the campaign, shoot me an email at admin@arkongame.com and I am happy to share our final results.

      1. Hi.
        Just to get it right: You started to advertise your game (which was not available back then but “only” the community / Facebook event) 6 weeks before the KS campaign started?
        Any other thoughts about this? We did this (in a non board game context) a couple of years ago and the budget was almost wasted because it creates one more step for the conversion.

  4. 10 $ / jour par annonce n’est pas un budget serré pour moi. Il faut rappeler tout de même qu’il ne faut pas tout miser sur la publicité direct, cela serait une erreur, bien entendu, cela va aider mais, c’est loin d’être l’essentiel. Alors à tous les porteurs de projets qui n’ont pas le budget. Rassurez vous il y a des tas de moyens entièrement gratuit pour se faire connaitre. Cela demande uniquement du temps à investir et de relever la tête pour voir ce qu’il se passe autour de vous…
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    $ 10 / day per listing is not a tight budget for me. It should be remembered that we should not focus on direct advertising, it would be a mistake, of course, it will help but, it is far from the essential. So to all project promoters who do not have the budget. Do not worry, there are lots of completely free ways to get to know each other. It only takes time to invest and look up to see what’s going on around you…

    1. The core of a successful campaign is not advertising but building community, meeting people face to face at game nights/conventions/LGS’s etc.. You are definitely right!

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