October 8, 2013, 3:06 PM

Facebook’s new advertising tool focuses on marketers’ goals

Its ad-buying process now starts by asking ‘What’s your advertising objective?’

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Facebook Inc.’s latest shift could force online marketers to think more about what they want to achieve on the social network before buying ads there.

Facebook is pivoting from selling ads in various formats to marketers to what it calls “objective-based ad buying” that first determines what an advertiser wants to achieve before suggesting ad types that can help it meet those objectives. 

The shift marks the latest move by Facebook to make it easier for marketers to understand how to best leverage ads on the social network, which has more than 1.15 billion monthly users.

Starting today the social network’s self-service ad-buying process begins with the social network asking, “What’s your advertising objective?” Its tools then recommend specific ad types based on the marketer’s stated goal.

“Businesses told us that when creating an ad, they didn’t want to choose an ad unit—they wanted to meet an objective,” Facebook wrote in a blog post. “We spoke with marketers of all types and sizes to uncover the objectives that matter most to them.”

For instance, some retailers and other marketers want to lead shoppers to click to their web sites, while others want to encourage shoppers to download their mobile apps.

“These objectives have become the new starting point for buying ads on Facebook,” Facebook wrote. “Based on the objective a business chooses, we’ll now recommend an appropriate ad type.”

Facebook’s default setting will let the social network place ads where they might perform best—be it the news feed for desktop users, the news feed for mobile users or the right-hand column display ads. However, advertisers can also select where their ads appear. For example, a marketer looking to drive traffic to its web site can place a desktop ad with a link to the company’s full desktop site and a separate mobile ad that links to its mobile site.

Facebook also revamped its reporting tools to help advertisers determine how their ads performed against their objectives. Its Ads Manager now shows the advertiser’s stated objective, along with the number of times the objective was met and the cost per stated objective. For instance, if a retailer wants its ad campaign to drive web site conversions, the tool will show how many web site conversions resulted from the ad campaign.

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