Why media agencies suck at Facebook advertising
I have been fighting the good fight with media buying agencies for over two years now. What is that fight? It is the fight over who is able to access and ultimately control a client’s Facebook advertising units while they are in market.
This is how it worked in the old world.
The creative agency would create digital advertising assets such as banners, then hand them off to the media buying agency who would place them in market and deliver weekly or if you were lucky, daily reports to get a feel for how the ad unit was performing.
In the pre-Facebook world, a digital advertising asset was static. Once it was created, the creative agency could do little to change how it looked once it was in market. The result was often a poorly performing piece of creative that couldn’t be optimised because it was locked into a two-six week media buy. Anyone from the outside looking in would tell you that’s a dumb model, and I would have to agree.
In the post-Facebook world, a social advertising asset is dynamic. Once a Facebook ad unit is created, it is our job to consistently optimise that unit every two-three hours whilst it is in market based on its performance. This is fundamental. This is our duty as diligent social marketers. To optimise any less would represent failure on behalf of our clients and on behalf of ourselves.
But, what happens when you have the ad unit creative, media budget recommendation and overall advertising strategy in place – then the media buying agency comes in and shits all over it stating that only they can access the Facebook advertising back end on behalf of the client – oh, and your media budget recommendation? Yeah, we’re gonna totally fuck with that too.
So what’s the real reason why media buying agencies suck at Facebook advertising? In addition to the above, I believe it comes down to two things, revenue and control.
Revenue. Media buying agencies still make healthy commission in the process of actually booking large chunks of media, as we are all well aware. If we had it our way and ran our own cost per click Facebook campaigns, the buying agency makes no commission, no money – so its pretty apparent why they wouldn’t want to go down that route.
Control. Traditionally, the way the advertising agency ecosystem worked meant buying agencies had full control over allocation, targeting and placement of digital media advertising assets. The introduction of Facebook’s self-service advertising platform blew this model to hell as it allowed other agencies (creative, integrated) to manage the buy themselves, leaving buying agencies out of the loop and in a scramble ever since.
How do we fix this? Media agencies can still manage the Facebook ad account, but they need to be willing to allow access to the strategists who are leading the overall social strategy for the campaign. These strategists have carefully crafted ad unit creative to align with specifically detailed, granular targeting parameters to ensure the right message reaches the right consumers on Facebook.
If they do this, we all win. The buying agency is still able to maintain a level of control, we as strategists get to optimise our ads in real-time and the client gets the best possible ROI for their Facebook ad campaign.
If they don’t do this, we all lose. The buying agency is left to handle a large volume (30-40) pieces of ad creative that they don’t know how to optimise, so won’t. We as strategists see our strategies die a slow death as paid media is the conduit for traffic (life) to our applications and pages – because the buying agency isn’t optimising or making the creative work as hard as it can and lastly, the client suffers as they get a shitty ROI on the overall campaign.
I really do hope we can all learn to play together in the same sandpit as our tools are no longer separate or silo-ed off from one another – in social they are both intrinsically linked.
Traditional digital advertising assets are static. Social advertising assets are dynamic.
When stuff gets dynamic, things can and need to change fast. A Facebook ad that hasn’t been optimised in some way within a 24-hour window of being in market ultimately becomes static, something it was never designed to be. Let’s rid the advertising world of static Facebook ad units, together.