Facebook Ads for Indie Filmmakers: Lookalike Audiences

I’m going to do a series of posts about using Facebook ads as a part-time, indie filmmaker. I don’t have a lot of money for advertising. Is it possible to use small ad buys to generate actual sales? I’m going to try to find out.

So, I ran a couple of Facebook ads for my documentary film. The results were OK. I didn’t spend a lot of money, but reached a good number of people. I specifically targeted these people based on ages and interests that I thought would be good.

But I wanted to learn how to use the Facebook Pixel that I put on my website. I wanted to run ads directed at conversions, directed at sales. I didn’t know how to make that happen. I was tired of throwing money away on brand awareness ads that didn’t lead to sales.

A day or so later I got an email from Facebook saying they want to teach me how to do better advertising. So I click. The end result was a couple of 45 minus calls with a real live facebook ad trainer. Facebook does this because they make money from advertising, and hey want people like me to use facebook ads. So teaching me how to reach my goals through spending money on Facebook is in their best interests.

So the first call was the real eye opener. We chatted a bit and I told the guy what I was hoping to see. Then he laid out their funnel for generating “warm leads” over cold calls and converting them to customers who buy. Prior to this I thought I understood how to place advertising on Facebook. But I was so very wrong.

Enter the Lookalike Audience.

Facebooks uses data that people give them voluntarily, to track behaviors and group people together. Then they allow me to access those audiences who look like my current audience.

For example, I have an instagram page. It has a few followers. When I create a lookalike audience for that group, Facebook looks at my current followers and catalogs various demographics. They look at person 1 and see that this person is a member of these groups, friends with these people, lives in this area, is married, visits these website with Fb pixels attached, and more. Then they go out and find people that match those criteria. So, while my Instagram account doesn’t have a lot of followers, they find hundreds of thousands of potential fans, who have behaviors that look like my current audience.

Then I can introduce my film to them. I built 3 lookalike audiences. One for my Facebook page, Instagram account and the Facebook Pixel I have installed on my website. The lookalike audiences look for people who look like those who have interacted with my FB and Insta pages in the last year, and with my Pixel in the 6 months.

The genius of the lookalike audience is that it removes the cold calling aspect of FB marketing. I don’t have to try to guess what interests my audience likes, Facebook knows already. And can advertise to people who are like my existing audience.

I did a very small lookalike audience ad campaign. Just $10.

For that $10 I got 6,300 impressions, with a reach of 5,200, and a frequency of 1.22. Facebook estimated that 220 of those people would remember my ad, remember the movie. Remember, these are not cold calls but are people who look like my current audience.

Next step was to retarget these people, and my audience, with a video interaction ad. For this I initially spent $30. But after a few days, seeing who the ad was reaching, I cut it back to $20 and shortened the run time. At one point my frequency was at a 5, and my per video view rate was almost $0.30 per view. People were seeing the ad too often (it would become annoying.) and the cost was climbing.

I think it was because my audience is still very small. I was not using the lookalike audience, but people who interacted with my pages (which includes those 220 potential audience members.) It’s still a very small potential audience.

The final step in the funnel is conversions. I just launched an ad campaign that tracks the use of my pixel, specifically an event that shows people who click to buy the film. (It took me a while to figure out how to do this, but it pretty simple- once you figure it out. Future blog post to come.) In order to get the potential results I wanted I had to use both my existing audiences and a lookalike audience from my instagram account. I’m hoping this will work better than just targeting my existing audience.

FB estimates that 10-40ish people will convert to buy the film. If I get 10 actual sales, that will more than cover all of the money I’ve spent so far on this experiment. And if that result is scalable… Then I could be on the way to recouping what I spent to make the film.


Placing a Facebook Ad

A lot of ministries are starting to use Facebook to engage in conversation with people. It’s a great way for members of your congregation to engage. I was recently at a conference in a roundtable discussion, and of the people at the table, every single ministry had a social media presence, and was using Facebook.

I was the only person from a represented organization that had ever purchased a Facebook advertisement.

I believe that right now social media ads, in particular Facebook ads, are some of the best exposure for the dollar available. While this varies from market to market, the ratio should be very similar. In Orlando, using traditional media, it would cost us $5000-6000 to hit a million impressions. And that number is an educated guess. One ad we ran last year hit a million impressions for $300. Now, just like any advertising, you need to formulate it to fit your audience and medium.

I am going to walk you through how we placed an ad to promote a special TV broadcast. The process is simple. The costs will vary based on a lot of factors, but with just a couple hundred dollars you can see some amazing results. The ad that we placed is basically a billboard type of ad. We are specifically advertising a Facebook event, that drives people to watch a local broadcast. We do not want or need a lot of people to say they are attending. The advertisement gives all the information, so we do not need people to click through. When setting up the event, we hid the number of people attending from the public. (If we are not pushing to RSVP, we don’t want the impression that not very many are planning to watch, so we hid that number.)

Bearing that in mind, we don’t want to pay per impression, we want to pay per click. That means that the cost of each person clicking will be higher, but we will get a much higher number of impressions. Since an impression alone can convey all the information, this is a better way to stretch the budget on Facebook. Not every ad can do this.

First, you need whatever you want the ad to direct people toward posted on Facebook. It can simply be your Facebook page or an event you want to advertise. In our case this was an event. Then just click one of those links to the Facebook ad creation page that pop up all over. there’s normally always one on the right hand side, by an ad from someone else. It simply says “Create an Ad”.

The page looks like this (As of March 2011. Things could change, but the basic process should be similar.):
Ad 1

There several field to fill out. The top drop down menu lists everything you can advertise. This one has the broadcast event we created selected. Also on that list was every page I am an admin for, and any other events we might have coming up.

Below that, you can have the ad send people to various sections of your page, like the wall. Unless you have a specific need, I’d stay with the default landing site.

Next, title the ad campaign something you will remember. Every add you place will have a specific title, so you can identify it when you go to review the results. Then fill in the text portion of the ad. You can see the preview window below. The space isn’t quite as short as twitter, but you don’t have a paragraph. Finally, upload an image. We chose the heart logo from the Love Orlando. We are building that brand, and wanted to associate the broadcast with this image. Click the button at the bottom, and you are on to the next section.

ad 2

This is where You decide who is going to see the ad. Hopefully, you know what you want before you ever create the ad. Because of the wealth of information people have freely given Facebook, you can be extremely selective abut who can see your advertisement.

First up is geographic location. This is a local ad, so we selected Orlando, and cities within 25 miles. That allows us to hit most of the viewing area of the broadcast.

Next is age range. For this ad we wanted every adult to see it, so that’s huge. But you can dial it back to just one year if you want. (Got an event for seniors in High School?) You can also type in keywords for interests. If you are advertising a concert, you can type music or concerts, and narrow your audience by that demographic.

Finally is a section about connection on Facebook. You can advertise to any group you are a part of, or exclude any group you are a part of. For example, when running our Singing Christmas Trees ads w knew that people who are attached to our church Facebook site would already be exposed to marketing for the event, so we did not want to spend our money on them. We excluded them. For this ad, we excluded people who already liked Love Orlando or the church, because we can put information in their news feed for free when we post about the broadcast.

As you can see that leaves a target audience of over 987,000. The more you define your audience, the smaller that number gets.

ad 3

Next comes pricing. Set your currency and time zone. The name is the same as what you put in before. Next set your budget. You can set a daily budget, or a lifetime budget. For us, we wanted to spend about $300. Then set your schedule. You can select an allotted time, or set your ad to run continuously. We scheduled the ad to stop right at the start of the broadcast event.

Now you are ready to “bid’ for your ad. You can pay for impressions or pay for clicks. Impressions are cheaper, but i ave found that we can get a lot more impressions if we pay per click. I have not yet found a situation where paying for impressions makes more sense that paying for clicks. Then you put in your max bid.

There is a range of suggested bid amounts to the right. I’d suggest putting your bid in the middle to upper end of that range. This range fluctuates. I came back into this ad, saw that the range had shifted and adjusted our bid up to $3.00. Remember that you are bidding on clicks, not impressions. And this is your max bid. When you ad comes up, the higher bid wins. My cost per click on this ad so far has been a little over a dollar, even though my max bid is $3.00. At the time I am writing this I have spent $95 for over 400,000 impressions.

Click review ad, and you’re almost done.

ad 4

It isn’t always right. As you can see, I didn’t bid $0.00 per click. If things look right, place your order. As you place the order you will enter your payment information. That will take you to your campaign report page.

ad 5

At this point your ad is scheduled, but it isn’t running, even if you wanted an immediate start. Every ad is reviewed. Once it passes muster, it’s running. This page can give you up to date stats on your campaign.

To get back to this page, simply click the Ads and Pages link on your main profile page, below your groups. Facebook will charge you periodically throughout the lifetime of the ad.

Placing an ad on Facebook is pretty easy. It allows for an insane amount of targeting, and results in a very cost effective marketing campaign. When added to a traditional media buy, your campaigns be very effective.