Exploring Facebook's Ad Options

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Since last Friday, more than 1.5 million people who logged into their Facebook accounts have seen an ad promoting independent booksellers and IndieBound. The ad, placed by the American Booksellers Association, utilizes Facebook's simple and inexpensive ad platform to target users who are likely fans of independent bookstores.

For bookstores, the targeting options may be one of the most appealing aspects of advertising on Facebook. Ads can be targeted to users in a specified geographic area, but they can also be targeted to users' areas of interest—so a specialty bookstore with an e-commerce site could reach out to a niche audience beyond its location. Stores that list their events on Facebook also have the option of creating ads linked to Facebook Event pages, where users can indicate whether or not they plan to attend the event.

Of course, stores with Facebook pages are already able to send messages to “fans” through the site's News Feed, so any store exploring advertising options should test different methods of targeting customers to determine the most cost-effective one.

The Facebook ad platform is a simple one:

  • The ads include a maximum of 160 characters (up to 25 characters for the headline, and up to 135 for the body text), an optional image (up to 110 x 80 pixels), and a destination link, which can be a page within Facebook or an external website.

  • Advertisers can be charged per click (CPC) or per thousand impressions (CPM). In Facebook's system, the advertiser sets the maximum per-click or per-thousand payment, and Facebook uses an algorithm that determines the ad's placement based on the payment and other factors. Advertisers also set a maximum per-day cost, and will not be charged more than that amount.

  • Ads can be targeted to Facebook users based on geography, interests and other factors. The ad creation tool allows the advertiser to see approximately how many users meet the target criteria.

Facebook provides an overview of its advertising options at facebook.com/advertising/, along with a FAQ section.

Bookselling This Week would love to hear from stores that have experimented with Facebook ads, or with other forms of online advertising.