Facebook's New Lead Ads: Is It Time to Cheer Yet?

Over the past couple of weeks, we've been testing Facebook's new Lead Ads for a few clients and for altREVOLUTION itself. It's early days; but here's our take so far:

First, what's the rationale for Facebook Lead Ads?

If you follow news about the marketing industry or Facebook, you most likely read about the truly amazing shift in Facebook usage from desktops to mobile devices. It's been great in many ways and it's opened up significant opportunities. But if you advertise on Facebook, you're painfully aware that response to mobile ads has been problematic to say the least.

Why has mobile been such an issue?

Ask a room full of marketers or ad buyers about mobile advertising and you'll get a near-unanimous response. Mobile ads are cost-effect to reach large numbers of people and they're great for ad engagement (post likes, page likes, comments, etc.) However, many have found really poor results for the completion of a transaction (lead capture, subscription to a newsletter, purchase, etc.). The one exception has been ads for mobile apps, which of course, makes sense. 

Anyone with a mobile phone shouldn't be surprised by this. We're more impulsive with items we see on our phone (thus the higher engagement levels). But when it comes to taking the next step, it's extraordinarily tedious to complete a form or a transaction through a mobile device.

This hasn't been lost on Facebook.

We think Facebook has two goals with Lead Ads. First with so many of their users accessing Facebook through mobile, they had to crack the conversion problem for mobile ads. Advertisers and agencies have been very vocal about the issue; and better ad performance equals more revenue for Facebook.

Lead Ads serve a second, important function for them in that users can respond to the ad without ever leaving Facebook—no need to click over to an advertiser's site to complete a transaction. So win-win for Facebook.

So what's in it for advertisers?

Mobile Lead Capture That Works

With Lead Ads, Facebook has succeeded in making lead capture a seamless experience on mobile devices. Facebook pre-populates basic user info once the user clicks on the call-to-action. Advertisers have the ability to add additional questions. We asked just for name and email address, so it was literally one click of a submit button—no typing required.

Easy Ad creation

It's also easy to create Lead Ads. Go to Power Editor and choose "Lead Generation" as your campaign goal, select from the same targeting options as other Facebook ads, then enter your creative. As of right now, Facebook only offers Lead Ads on mobile campaigns (desktop is apparently in the works). And you have the call-to-action options of download, subscribe, learn more, apply now, get quote, and sign up.

a lead form within facebook

Next, you'll be asked to create a lead form, which you'll name and save for later use. You get name and email by default, but you have several other data points you can receive from a user's Facebook profile, including date of birth, gender, zip code, relationship status, and more.

You can also choose custom questions that Facebook created for certain industries and up to three questions of your own creation.

A note on privacy

As an advertiser using Lead Ads, you are required to have a privacy statement on your website. You'll need to provide a link to it to complete the lead form creation. You also agree not to sell or share lead information from Lead Ads nor violate any of Facebook's Terms of Service (no spam, for example).

Easy access to your leads

Finally, you can also easily access your leads through your Facebook page in the Publishing Tools dropdown, where you can manually download a .csv file. Additionally, Facebook offers integration with a few CRM tools (Salesforce, Oracle, Marketo, with more on the way). So it's easy to integrate leads generated through Lead Ads into your regular marketing & conversion communications.

What's the verdict on Lead Ads?

For our experiments, it's still too early to tell. We have to see how these leads perform over time—how active or engaged are they? at what rate do they convert? and so on. That said, we think Facebook has done a tremendous job with the introduction of Lead Ads. They made huge strides in improving the lead capture/opt-in experience on mobile devices; and we think there'll be more tweaks and improvements ahead. So if you use Facebook to advertise already, we definitely recommend that you conduct a small test to determine if Lead Ads are a good fit for your business. And if you need help, don't hesitate to contact us

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