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Q&A: Spruce Media’s COO Lucy Jacobs on Facebook ads and success metrics

Last week, Facebook announced their new Preferred Marketing Developer (PMD) program. This was a merger of the Preferred Developer Consultant (PDC) program and the Marketing API Program (MAP) which have been running for three years. 

These programs connected brands with developers to help them optimize social plugins, build apps on the Facebook Platform, develop strategies, and manage ad campaigns for Facebook Pages.

One of the companies that has been built around the Facebook Ad space is Spruce Media. According to their website, it has a mission. Spruce Media believes Facebook will change the future of advertising so it has created a platform to help advertisers thrive on Facebook ads. 

We had a chance to talk to Lucy Jacobs, COO of Spruce Media, to talk about how the company works with Facebook, Facebook best practices, how Facebook has changed the ad space and benchmarks for success.

How has Spruce Media been involved with Facebook’s ad programs?

Facebook opened up its API 2 years ago. It was really building a space for the user but not really building tech around the ad space as well. With this in mind, Facebook created a platform for its ad space for third party vendors and the API program was opened to 100 companies.

Spruce Media helps advertisers buy cost per action (CPA) ads (amongst other things). At the start, we were mainly selling to businesses like Zynga and University of Phoenix to help drive leads. But we have also helped businesses to use self service as ad buying become more intuitive for them.

This has helped us expand to agencies, trading desks and large brands like Amazon and Walmart. By licensing our software to large agencies and brands, we’ve been able to help businesses navigate Facebook.

How has Facebook changed the ad space?

Facebook started off with standard banners in 2008. They quickly killed that and made all ad units social. I believe this is turning marketing on its head. This means companies can’t just repurpose ads as they do in other spaces. They have to respond to stories and page posts. In order for advertisements to really work on Facebook, they need social context. 

How can brands do well on Facebook?

To truly do well, brands need to completely embrace it. They need to ask how they can mobilize the whole brand around social. 

Brands can’t think of Facebook as just another channel. Rather, they have to think of Facebook as something the organisation rallies around. Look at what 1800 Flowers, Walmart, and Starbucks are doing. They are using Facebook to feed into all parts of their business from customer service to product design.

What are the benchmarks of success?

It’s about getting the right fans and keeping them engaged. Companies are missing the boat if they want sheer numbers. Instead, they need to look at what their engagement rates are compared to their competitors and create a benchmark. It’s about fans x engagement ratio.

How can businesses change their approach to Facebook?

To truly be successful, businesses have to have a holistic view of Facebook. You have to look at integration. Your pages are the hub of Facebook. It’s not just about ads, it’s about stories. The key thing is not to just run paid media. You want your ads to look like PR or earned media and get fans to post your ads to their friends.

But how do you amplify? Owned, earned and paid media should be integrated. To be effective, you basically need to understand who is interacting with you, how you get more of that type of fan and then target your messaging.

Speaking of changes on Facebook, which companies do you think are using Facebook timelines the best? Anyone doing it wrong?

I think New York Times is doing it the best. They’ve tracked the whole history of their company and it is beautiful. Starbucks’ timeline is good as well.

So far, there has been neutral to positive results on timeline. Companies still have to continue to customize what will resonate and the right frequency for their fans, but it’s still early.

No one is doing it wrong, per se, but it’s really tough to integrate apps. You can do it with pinning but for those brands who relied on apps to customize their Facebook pages, they will have to go back to the drawing board.

What are your top three Facebook tips for brands?

  1. Understand your fan base and who’s engaging. Are they the right demographic for your brand?
  2. Integrate pages and paid media. It’s important to integrate page posts into paid media/ ad strategy. They are the most effective ad unit that you can customize to your target audience.
  3. Understand your metrics of success. The metrics of success on Facebook are different. Now that Facebook has introduced “People talking about this” you can see how viral your message has become. It’s not about looking at click through rates or reach, it’s about engagement. Don’t think of it as advertising. Facebook is all about building relationships with your customers.

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