Placement Optimization on Dynamic Ads for Travel

Automatic vs Manual Placements on Facebook Ads

When it comes to Facebook advertising, where you place your ad can be as important as what your ad says. Placement optimization can boost performance when using campaign objectives such as website clicks, mobile app installs, and conversions.

Since dynamic ads for travel (DAT) is still a relatively new solution, some travel advertisers have been hesitant to use placement optimization or leverage placements other than the desktop feed and mobile feed. But what about other the other options such as Right Column, Instagram and Audience Network?

Some of the reasons advertisers don’t leverage placements other than Desktop and Mobile include:

  • Performance – If a placement performance does not reach goals quickly, advertisers are hesitant to let it run
  • Less control – Enabling multiple placements on the ad set level doesn’t allow for as much control
  • Brand Safety – They may not be fully aware of how much control they have over where and what their ads are showing up next to. (More details can be found here)

Placement Options

Let’s take a look at the two categories of placement options that exist at the ad set level on Facebook:

Automatic Placements

The expectation with automatic placements is that your ad will serve on all the available placements. This gives the Facebook delivery system optimal flexibility in getting you the most for your budget. This option can drive better results by allowing Facebook to find the most relevant people at the cheapest available price. It takes into account your budget and getting you the most results for the lowest average cost within the budget, so it is not tied to an ROI goal or whatever your KPI might be. Automatic placements are recommended when optimizing for Facebook metrics.

Edit Placements (aka Manual Placements)

This option allows the advertiser to manually select the placement they want to use. If you are optimizing to Facebook metrics like app installs, link clicks, or conversions, the recommended placements for Product catalog sales are Facebook (Desktop, Mobile, Right Column) and Audience Network. If you are optimizing to an external metric (ROI, LTV, etc.) then it’s recommended that you set up individual ad sets for the placements you want to try so you can evaluate which one works for you. We recommend this option for advertisers that have aggressive goals for ROI or booking volume.

Tests and Results

When setting up your ad campaign, Facebook’s best practices and recommendations are a great place to start and can be very helpful for driving results. At Koddi, we follow these recommendations, but we also know that with any new product or solution, testing is required.

Because testing plays a big part in driving results, the Koddi platform has the ability to set up ad studies or split tests. With this built-in functionality, you can monitor performance and gather learnings all in the same place.

Using automatic placements and managing performance to an external KPI is difficult because attributing performance to placements under automatic placements is close to nonexistent and the Facebook algorithm does not adjust your delivery between the placements based on your third-party conversion data. Using manual placements allows for the most flexibility with optimizing to external KPIs, but only opting into Desktop Feed and/or the Mobile Feed placement limits your reach.

Here are a few key takeaways from our testing efforts:

  • Placements other than Desktop are likely to over-index, especially if enabled as part of the same ad set. While over-indexing is not a problem, the issue is when a placement with lower CVR over-indexes, it can result in lower bookings and less revenue. In our case: running Desktop, Mobile and Right Column, resulted in 31% fewer bookings than running Desktop and Mobile alone. Each placement was its own Ad Set.
  • If you enable individual ad sets for Desktop, Mobile, Right Column, then they will also compete vs each other and in turn lower overall performance.
    Facebook Ads Performance with Right Hand Column
  • In another test where we ran automatic placement optimization, we saw a similar effect– a decline in bookings and while CPMs were the lowest ever, ROI was way below goal.
    Facebook Dynamic Ads Automatic Placement

Conclusion

When it comes to scale, Facebook is much more powerful when you leverage all of its placements. However, when you have aggressive performance goals tied to external metrics, using all the placements for direct response is not an ideal option yet.

We are optimistic that in the near future, advertisers will have more flexibility and control over the weight of each placement and Facebook will fine-tune automatic placement to a point where it can be leveraged for external metrics. If you have any questions about placement options for dynamic ads for travel, leave a comment below or send us an email. We’d love to hear from you!

Automatic vs Manual Placements on Facebook Ads

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