I tried Facebook Video Ads and the Results Sucked

Facebook Video ads

When Facebook video ads were first introduced, every guru and his mom preached that we should be doing Facebook video ads.

The reasoning was that Facebook was aggressively pushing them and giving us brand exposure at a very low cost.

I can agree with the above point. Facebook did push (and continues) to promote video ads. And I can also attest that video ads can produce views at a very low cost. My issue with Facebook video ads is that in my industry, they rarely convert viewers into buyers.

My Facebook Video Ads Experiment from 2020

When I launched a new product last year, I decided to go all-in with my video ads. I was launching a product for construction professionals. If you want to learn more about this experiment, the video below will give you 5 key findings from that experiment.

For my video ads campaign, my strategy was as follows:

  1. Release a general informational video to cold audiences. Collect data on engagement and capture the audiences that watch at least 75% of the video
  2. Bring out two more videos, that go a bit deeper into the funnel. I would only show these ads to the people who had been warmed up in the previous video (and had watched 75%)
  3. Once enough people have watched at least 2 or 3 videos, get them to sign up to an email list or sell them a low priced product ($27).

I should also note that my videos were about 10 minutes in length each. In other words, anyone who watched 75% of my video had already committed 7 and a half minutes of his time.

The Results from the Experiment

I ran the campaigns in many different countries, but I am presenting here for high-income countries where targeting is more expensive. Specifically, I am referring to the United States, UK, and Australia.

My costs per ThruPlay ranged from 1 to 3 cents. Now, I don’t pay much attention to this metric, as it is a vanity metric and includes everyone who watched at least 15 seconds. In the context of a 10-minute video, 15 seconds is basically like not watching it, so this metric was utterly irrelevant to my needs.

However, I did take my total ad spend for each ad group and divided it by the total number of people who watched at least 75% (or 7-8 minutes) of my video. My cost per 75% view ranged from 0.20 to 0.40 USD.

I was initially really pleased with this result. Thirty cents for a devoted viewer felt like a steal!

Bring on the Retargeting

I assumed that someone who stops scrolling on Facebook and spends 7 minutes watching a video would remember you. I, therefore, assumed that a significant portion of these viewers would be interested in getting more stuff from me.

So I spent a bunch of money racking up thousands of warm viewers, as I felt the cost was affordable.

I then set about running new videos to these warmed-up audiences. The results bombed.

The view rate was horrendous. It was slightly better than having advertised to a cold audience.

I wondered if the video was not as appealing. So I tried out a different video. That bombed as well. I then tried retargeting other pieces of content (like various articles) to these people. Not much better.

Anything I did, I felt like I was starting over again. I was surprised by the results because I have had significant success in the past retargeting content on Facebook to warm users (in different industries)

If I had an explanation, then it would be that the Facebook algorithm will tend to optimize for people who like to watch videos on Facebook. These people may not necessarily be the best fit if you want to move them down the funnel to buy a product from you.

So How could we get Facebook Video Ads to work?

In my case, the Facebook video ads were a flop. But while listening recently to the perpetual traffic podcast, I heard an interesting story about a company using Facebook ads to run product demo videos in the make-up space.

By demonstrating the use of their product in a short video, they were able to include a call to action to get people to make a purchase immediately. They made quite a few sales from just one video ad!

If you are in any physical goods type of business, where you need to demonstrate the use of your product, then Facebook video ads may be worth considering.

In my space, I just felt it was not a good fit. I have noticed that people seeking information on how to do something are more likely to go on Youtube and educate themselves. Facebook remains primarily an entertainment platform.

But if you are selling something entertaining, give Facebook video ads a try.

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