Ecommerce ad trends & observations
[Week 23rd - 29th March]
Written by Will Ashton
31st March, 2020
Most advertisers’ approach to Facebook have changed quickly over the past few weeks.
However, we’re starting to see some early trends continue as ecommerce businesses settle into the ‘new normal’.
Each week we’re pulling together trends, observations, and strategies to help you identify opportunities, as well as some useful links for further reading.
There is an opportunity for brave or less affected advertisers to drive more profitable sales. However, we don’t expect as much movement in Facebook market conditions as we’ve seen over the past few weeks.
Data from IT/CN suggests that as many people will continue to use Facebook, and low costs will continue. There are plenty of opportunities to drive profitable sales, but that varies greatly by sub-vertical.
Meanwhile, word is spreading about low costs on Facebook, because there are more new advertisers entering the auction than we’ve seen in the past few weeks. However, that hasn’t yet driven up costs.
There are plenty of advanced Facebook strategies that advertisers looking to benefit from this situation can use. There are also many strategies outside of Facebook, so advertisers should be open to testing different channels.
- Spend is down roughly 40% vs the period before coronavirus became widespread in the UK & US
- Conversion rate has declined by about 20% over the past week.
- Global CPM has been flat in the 7 days to March 29, but is still 50% lower than at the start of March
- Global CPC has been flat in the 7 days to March 29, and is still 33% lower than start of March.
- Global CPAs are still lower than at any point pre-CV, with CPAs for the UK lower than the US.
- Between March 1 and 8 online sales in Italy grew by around 80% YoY, vs a normal YoY trend of approximately 40%. All of this points to the online opportunity demonstrated by Facebook trends
- However, online sales are undoubtedly a mixed bag, and dependent on sub-vertical essentials, such as home and food delivery, while clothing and luxury continue to struggle
- We don’t really know how supply chains are going to hold up. This will have a significant effect on advertisers’ ability to grow or maintain revenue during this period
- We hear that UK high street retailers are beginning to look to social in order to get rid of store stock
- Other verticals, such as car dealerships, are getting wise to lower costs and high engagement on social, so they are beginning to divert spend there from other channels
- Some large retailers, like Next in the UK, are closing online operations, due to the introduction of social distancing restrictions at their warehouses. TK Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods in the US have done similarly.
- We’re expecting the Facebook advertiser count to grow steadily, however, we don’t think it’s likely to keep pace with inventory. The overall effect would be to keep costs low.
Refresh your creative
If you haven’t already, ensure you refresh your creative and messaging as soon as possible. Ads you were running before this situation developed fully may include imagery or copy that isn’t in keeping with current conditions.
For example, ads showing users in situations or doing things that are now less feasible (working in an office, for instance) will need to be changed to reflect how people are currently spending their time.
Use Facebook’s Power 5
It’s more important than ever to ensure you’re leveraging Facebook’s “Power 5” best practices. By doing so, you will ensure you have a simplified account structure that’s easy to maintain, and that leverages dynamic optimisation as much as possible.
This is really key when market conditions are fluctuating; the algorithm will adapt to these by making budget and bid decisions in real-time. That eases the pressure on those managing campaigns who will inevitably have more to think about given the circumstances.
Try Dynamic Language Optimisation
Worldwide or larger country groups help you benefit from cheaper, broader reach and reduce the volatility single markets may be experiencing at the moment.
Try this out with Dynamic Language Optimisation. All you need to do is create one ad with multiple translations of the same copy, then apply worldwide and language targeting for those that you have translations for.
Facebook will automatically serve your ad to users who view their Facebook in those languages. This helps broaden your reach even further, whilst ensuring your ads are relevant to users.
Leave country targeting to Facebook’s algorithm
As more and more users are active on social media, Facebook’s algorithm will start delivering ads more aggressively in markets that have high engagement. The algorithm will also deliver ads to the countries with the best cost per action.
This is especially important if you have been targeting countries that have historically performed well but you can no longer fulfill orders to.
The algorithm will take time to learn that this country is not delivering the best cost per action – doing this manually can hurt performance in the short term.
If you are not actively excluding markets that you cannot fulfill orders in, you are potentially damaging your ROAS and CPA.
Look at other channels
Given the low costs available on Facebook and the surge in usage of social platforms, there will be significant opportunities elsewhere.
What works on paid social is changing quickly. The Nest team is completely dedicated to growing ecommerce businesses with paid social, so we’ll help your campaigns keep up with the state of play.
- Within Retail Pulse: This is US-focused but provides helpful insights and is updated with new data daily
- Useful one-pager on supply chain management from Gartner
- Webcast series focused on supply chain/freight capacity, broadcasting Mon/Weds/Fri
- Research from WPP into what we can learn from China
- Interesting observations on the correlation between FB CPMs and the financial markets (note CPMs here are mobile app, not ecommerce)