Facebook is one of the OG social media platforms. Roughly 36.8% of all the people on this planet use Facebook today. Yep, that’s 2.91 billion people. These figures make Facebook the most used social platform worldwide. Love it or hate it, the social giant is a must-have social media channel for marketers.
With the ability to reach an audience of over 2 billion people every day, it should come as no surprise that Facebook ads are an essential tool for every digital marketer – including me. Read on to find out how Facebook ads have developed over the years and how I am getting on learning them from 2022 through to 2023.
From their introduction way back in 2004, Facebook advertisements have continued evolving and changing over time – just when you think you have them figured out, Facebook will surprise you with a new feature for you to get your head around. Let’s take a look at a few of the most important and interesting milestones in Facebook ads’ evolution.
2004: Facebook ‘Flyers’
In 2004, just 2 months after Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin set up Facebook they decided they needed a way to cover server costs. Flyers allowed local businesses to place ads promoting things like moving services, t-shirts and job listings at students using the platform.
2005: Facebook ad space gets noticed
Big companies such as Apple began buying ad space on Facebook, adding to the legitimacy of Facebook.
2007: The Facebook ads platform is officially launched
The newly launched Facebook Ads platform had 3 parts:
- Facebook pages: giving businesses the space to create individual profiles (just like standard users) to post content, share photos and engage with Facebook users.
- Facebook Social Ads: ads that combine social actions from a user’s friends, like a recent purchase or a review of a business, with an advertiser’s message. Allowing advertisers to deliver more specific, targeted ads to users that included information from their friends. These ads appeared either within a user’s news feed or in the site’s designated ad space.
- The third part was a user interface to gather insights about behaviour.
Facebook Social Advertising Event, Nov. 6, 2007 — Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg today introduced Facebook Ads, an ad system for businesses to connect with users and target advertising to the exact audiences they want. Through Facebook Ads, these users can now learn about new businesses, brands and products through the trusted referrals of their friends.
2010: Facebook app
In 2010 the Facebook mobile app was launched, which added new opportunities for advertisers and increased the audience size.
2011: Sponsored stories
The “Sponsored Stories” project was introduced – a programme that placed paid advertisements directly on users’ news feeds. Advertisers were happy – they saw it as a big win. Users were not happy and felt misled as the ads blended too seamlessly with other content from friends and pages they had already liked. It was discontinued in 2014.
2012: Facebook app…with ads
It’s hard to remember, but initially the Facebook App didn’t have any ads at all. Did that make money? No. Was Facebook ok with that? No. Say hello to ads on your mobile. Again users weren’t thrilled at the idea but Facebook subtly eased advertisements onto our mobile screens. The company’s mobile advertising strategy aimed to make ads as discreet as possible – seamlessly blending in paid promotional content and having it look like standard statuses or other user-generated content.
2014: Campaigns > ad sets > ads
Facebook released its three-level advertising campaign structure that still remains today. This new structure would “make it easier for advertisers of every size to organize, optimize and measure their ads.”
Adverts on desktop. Adverts on mobile. What’s next? Adverts in messenger. In 2016, Facebook started offering businesses two paths for bot incorporation within its Messenger platform — “Sponsored Messages” and “Click-to-Messenger” ads.
“Sponsored Messages” are ads that appear directly in a user’s Messenger inbox — ones that allow users to automatically communicate with a chatbot by clicking them.
“Click-to-Messenger” is when a business will draw users in with some sort of incentive — like a discount or piece of content — on the original Facebook platform and automatically send them a message via chatbot once they click on the offer.
2018-2020: Expanding ad formats
The number of ad formats was increased to 8, giving advertisers more tools. The ad formats include images, videos, carousels, and collections.
2021-2022: Just a few more updates
In recent years there have been changes to Facebook Ad Manager objectives. There are now six objectives to choose from six campaign objectives: awareness, traffic, engagement, leads, app promotion, and sales.
A new “Optimize Text Per Person” feature allows Facebook to automatically rotate your ads’ captions, headlines, and descriptions. Facebook machine learning predicts what users will respond to best and shows them different combinations.
They started out as just a test phase, but now Instagram reels ads are available to everyone. Just like Reels, the ads can be up to 30 seconds long. Users are able to like, comment, watch, save and share them.
Now, at the latter half of 2022 – that’s where I come in!
How I learned Facebook ads in 2022-2023
I started learning Facebook ads in 2022, trained by the Digital 24 team. As you can see above, there was a lot of ground to cover in the area (almost a decade of history and development, to be exact!) But, don’t let this deter you. The best way to learn is by doing – I am a firm believer of this. And so, with that, Meghan talked me through Facebook ads, showed me the platform using a few clients as examples and talked me through the different metrics. I watched a few YouTube videos on Facebook ads and off I went, looking into the analytics at first, noting what was performing and what wasn’t.
Once I got to grips with the platform, I was given the task of designing a small ad within a campaign – which actually made quite a few sales as a result of people seeing it.
With my ad being a success I then moved on to creating a full campaign for a client, with the support of my experienced colleagues. Again, this campaign resulted in a host of sales. What I learned from doing is that Facebook ads is all about monitoring your ads and campaigns and seeing what improvements can be made. I will continue to check in on them, making updates and changes if their performance lessens.
At the time of writing this blog, I have been with D24 for less than 2 months. And in those 2 short months I have learned a lot about Facebook ads, but I know there is still so much more to learn. I will continue to investigate what I don’t know, watch YouTube videos on what I don’t know and ask questions on what I don’t know in the hope that someday I will know. If you’re looking to enter the advertising space and learn how to use Facebook ads, working in an agency surrounded by industry professionals with a wealth of experience is the best way to do it!