Facebook is the most popular social media platform for advertising thanks to Facebook Ads. As shown by the figures in Facebook’s financial report, companies spent more than $9 million on Facebook ads during the second quarter of 2017 – an increase of 47% from the same period in 2016. With its 2 billion monthly active users, Facebook has a global, large and diverse audience. It also offers a range of ad formats with different advantages, numerous targeting options and lots of opportunities for creativity.
Businesses can easily be tempted to use a single ad format that seems efficient for them and keep it for each one of their ad campaign. However, leveraging different ad formats could also be a good solution. Indeed, each ad format has special features helping to focus on the right audience for your business based on defined objectives. That’s the reason why it is important to build a strong media strategy and plan beforehand.
First, adopt a full funnel strategy using different objectives to reach differentiated profiles…
Facebook is a useful tool to drive personalized marketing. It enables to target the ad on the right audience in other words people who are most likely to buy your products or services. Targeting can be done using demographics, location, interest but also behaviors, lookalikes, etc. By reaching several sub-audiences, the impact on global audience will be stronger.
Before defining a target audience, you should identify you campaign goals depending on the sales funnel stages (e.g. brand awareness, consideration or conversion) and based on the best metrics for the ad to maximize ROI. (see the chart below)
For example, is your objective to raise awareness on your next event and increase video views? Or do you need to drive traffic to your website?
Facebook Ads : marketing objectives
After selecting your campaign objective suggested by Facebook, it is time to choose the ad format based on the defined goal and the target audience.
… Then, choose the right creative formats based on your adapted objectives
Facebook offers a wide range of ad formats. (click here to learn more). Let’s have a quick look at the main formats, their specifics and how they could align with business objectives:
Photo ads are a simple format featuring a photo and text description. They are a great way for building brand awareness as they usually get high engagement (likes, comments and shares).
Photo ad example
Video ads allow to convey a large amount of information in a quick and engaging way. Besides, as Facebook pushes video content to the detriment of images, video ads can be helpful to build brand awareness, reach the right audience and make video views. For example, choosing a video designed to appeal to customers as part of the discovery stage could be a good way to grab attention and increase brand awareness. Video ads must greatly be considerate as they get very high engagement for low cost.
Video ad example
Carousel ads allow to broadcast up to 10 images and videos with different links in a single ad. They can be useful at all stages of the sales funnel, just as in the discovery stage as the conversion one. Indeed, they are ideal to showcase different products or features for brand awareness or retargeting. Moreover, they have significantly high CTRs.
Carousel ad example
Canvas ads offer a full-screen format composed of engaging photos, videos and text. They allow to tell a story for an immersive and rich experience. As this format is optimized for mobile, it loads instantly to better catch the audience’s attention. Canvas ads enable interaction between users and the images and videos leading to more link clicks, view rate and time spent on the ad.
Canvas ad example
Collection ads combine an image or a video with four recommended products below it. This mobile format allows to showcase multiple products making it easier for discovery. This ad format aims at driving traffic to e-shop and sales.
Collection ad example
Lead ads are ideal to drive visitors into the consideration stage. When they click on the ad, a form will pop up allowing businesses to gain lead’s contact information. This type of ad format is most effective when it is part of a retargeting campaign for an audience such as past visitors or people who already watched a video. They are a good way to get high CTR.
Lead ad example
Benefit Cosmetics’ case example
In 2016, for the launch of its new brow collection, Benefit Cosmetics built a Facebook ad campaign to raise brand awareness on the new products.
As part of the campaign’s kick off, Benefit launched video ads expressing the brand’s fun and bold personality. Later, to encourage purchase consideration, the brand used ‘Custom Audiences’, one of Facebook’s targeting options, to retarget people who viewed the video ad. Once this target audience was segmented by age, each group could have carousel ads displayed in their news feed with personalized images and product recommendations.
This campaign was a real success as it enabled to increase brand lift and recall by 14 points.
Below, an illustration I made for you to visualize the Benefit Cosmetics’ Facebook ad campaign strategy for the launch of new product collection:
Finally, one thing to remember is that there is no best ad format on Facebook. Each ad format owns specific features and offers different benefits. Businesses should then leverage Facebook Ads and build a full funnel strategy using different objectives and formats to reach differentiated profiles.
Please note that each business aims at different objectives and audiences; ads formats do not have the same results for everyone. It is then highly recommended to test the formats to review the target audience’s reaction and their results.
Overall, you should consider advertising on Facebook as a strong digital marketing lever. And among all ad formats, video and mobile are the fastest growing ones.
As the fastest-growing online customer-acquisition marketing channel, influencer marketing was tremendously popular in 2017 and the trend continues in 2018. According to a survey on The State of Influencer Marketing 2018 from Linqia, 39% of marketers are planning to increase their influencer marketing budget in 2018 and up to 66% for luxury brands. A new type of influencer has emerged in the social influencer sphere: the virtual influencer.
Lil Miquela, fashion’s first virtual Instagram influencer
The recent phenomenon in the influencer marketing sphere is Miquela Sousa, better known as Lil Miquela – a 20-year-old, Los Angeles-based, half Brazilian and half Spanish avatar. Miquela is a virtual influencer, in other words, a digital version of a social media influencer. Indeed, she is a persona that can influence our opinions, behaviours and attitudes like any “real” influencer except that she is a 3D computer-generated personality.
Since April 2016, when her Instagram account was activated, @lilmiquela’s follower base has kept growing and counts today more than half a million followers. The reasons of her success? Not only is she a beautiful model but also a music artist, a brand ambassador and even an advocate for social changes including Black Lives Matter and transgender rights.
Like most influencers, she enjoys sharing looks featuring branded clothes that she loves like Supreme, Chanel and Prada, posting selfies with her friends, providing makeup tips…content on her everyday life meticulously curated by an unknown person that she refuses to reveal.
Click here to listen her single “Not Mine” that hit the charts, number 8, on Spotify in August 2017
Check out @lilmiquela and @blawko22’s Instagram pages
Lil Miquela with her friend @blawko22
The era of immediacy
Social media has transformed the consumer relation towards information as well as the purchasing journey. With its ever-increasing number of users worldwide, 2.46 billion users in 2017, social media delivers wide reach and immediacy. More and more fashion brands decide to leverage it and broadcast live their fashion shows making them available not only to an exclusive audience but to everyone.
In a context of consumerism and growing demand for immediacy, brands need to adapt to consumer expectations. Some of them started to adopt a new fashion show format, allowing a seamless way to purchase without waiting time, called “See Now Buy Now”.
See Now Buy Now
A direct-to-consumer model
The “See Now Buy Now” experiment is underway. Introduced in 2015 by Burberry at the London Fashion Week, a handful of designers including Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors started their first shoppable fashion shows, enabling customers to buy the collections immediately after appearing on the runway. By giving up on the traditional calendar consisting in showing a collection six months ahead of the time it is available on shelves, these brands totally disrupted the fashion seasonal calendar and supply chain model.
By embracing this strategy along with the growing use of social media, brands focus their fashion shows on a consumer-oriented approach. Indeed, by cutting waiting time, they offer a direct and immediate connection to demanding consumers and deliver instant gratification with the aim to translate the interest and excitement generated by fashion shows into sales.
Furthermore, middlemen such as editors and stylists are reduced even removed from the retail process. As long as wholesalers don’t improve their operational agility, brands should handle the whole retail process to be able to deliver products on time in their offline and online shops. This is a reason why this model is likely to stick to a brand like Mulberry, that rolled it out in May 2017, as the majority of its sales are made in its own stores and on its site; just 10% of the label’s revenue came from its wholesale accounts.
Four seasons after a few major brands have adopted it, we can wonder if the “See Now Buy Now” model meets all expectations. Is it proving success? Is it driving sales?
A sales driver and a high social media exposure
For most brands and retailers, the shift to the “See Now Buy Now” format shows satisfying results notably in sales. Contemporary label Rebecca Minkoff recorded a large sales rise after its shoppable fashion show in September 2016. In a weekend, online and in-store sales increased by 168% compared to the weekend after its runway show the previous year. (Most of the uplift was driven by sales in physical stores, some of which hosted livestreaming events during the show, but online sales also saw a double-digit increase.). They even beat their best day ever by about 25 percent in only two days.
Similarly, for the e-tailer MyTheresa.com, the Burberry collection showed in September 2016 triggered an instant uplift in sales and three items (a cashmere sweater, a cashmere top and a bowling shirt) from womenswear collection were sold out since the show.
“The immediacy of being able to buy immediately after the show, combined with the impact of seeing the whole collection on the floor at once, gave our customers a sense of urgency to buy now.”
This rise in sales can be explained by the sense of urgency created. Like Joshua Schulman, president of Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus Group International explains typically, these sales would be spread over many weeks as the deliveries arrive piecemeal. The immediacy of being able to buy immediately after the show, combined with the impact of seeing the whole collection on the floor at once, gave our customers a sense of urgency to buy now.
Another benefit brought by the “See Now Buy Now” format is a high social media exposure. Womenswear Buying Manager Heather Gramston at Selfridges confirms that Jeremy Scott -Moschino 2014 AW collection was a success with high impact fashion week spectacle with high demand from an engaged customer looking for immediacy. In addition to a high visibility, there is a strong effect on traffic and search. Indeed, Tommy Hilfiger observed an increase of 900 percent in the first 48 hours after the show as well as a 35 percent increase in search on Lyst e-commerce platform.
An evolving show and sales format not yet for every business
While the “See Now Buy Now” model seems to work well for young designers and premium brands, not all high-end brands have embraced it as fully as Ralph Lauren or Burberry. The main reason would be the creation process of luxury products that is not compatible with this format. Indeed, so far most sales generated by shoppable shows concern accessible product categories such as accessories, eyewear and cosmetics. For Moschino, if “See Now Buy Now” sales make up 10 percent of the business, the brand would never consider moving its entire business over this new and experimental strategy. As brand representative Massimo Ferretti affirms quality ready-to-wear needs time for true creativity and quality to flourish. It is just not conceivable to create and scale collections three months in advance.
Burberry makeup collection inspired from September 2017 fashion show available immediately online on the brand’s website
When many fashion brands are still not ready to opt for this strategy, other brands like Tom Ford preferred to return to the traditional calendar due to the incompatibility with current fashion retail structure. Tom Ford who was among the first brands to adopt it, decided in March 2017 to give up on this model explaining that the store shipping schedule doesn’t align with the fashion show schedule. We lost a month of selling. We had merchandise sitting in stockrooms.
To conclude, even if the immediacy of social media is challenging the exclusive show format, the “See Now Buy Now” model is not going to replace the traditional fashion buying calendar yet. Instead, it is a new alternative for brands and retailers to reduce even more the gap and reinforce engagement between consumers and the brand. Digital and especially social media continue to change fashion brands’ business model revolutionizing the pace of retail. It remains to be seen whether new business models lead to high sales for the full retail season and in the long term.