When Facebook introduced carousel ads for the first time last year, the social media marketing community was abuzz with the possibilities. Now, 15 months after its introduction, it’s time to take stock: how have carousel ads changed the way marketers use Facebook, and how can you use them to ensure maximum ROI? You’ll get all of these answers and more in this in-depth guide to using Facebook’s carousel ads.
What are Carousel Ads?
If you’re an experienced Facebook marketer, much in this section will sound familiar. But if you’re just starting to use the network or have only used its rudimentary features for your advertising, here’s a quick introduction into just what exactly Facebook’s carousel ads actually are.
From a marketers perspective, they are an opportunity to showcase between 3 and 5 separate products (or pages) within a single ad. Each will get its own separate tab, which includes a unique picture and URL. From a user’s perspective, it’s a more dynamic ad as it allows you to flip between multiple possibilities from a single advertiser.
Who Should Use Carousel Ads?
Not surprisingly, the most common use of carousel ads so far has occurred within the e-commerce industry. Even Facebook’s own description of this ad type features an online merchant, showcasing three separate products within a single ad. But, as you might imagine, the possibilities don’t end there.
For starters, check out these creative uses of carousel ads, which include a hotel showcasing nearby attractions, a restaurant assuring patrons about the quality of its food, and more. And you can even keep it basic; if you engage in content marketing, consider using a carousel ad to promote three related types of content (such as a webinar, a blog post, and a white paper) in a single ad.
At this point, you’ve probably realized: the headline of this section is a trick question. Used correctly, Facebook’s carousel ads can benefit businesses of any size and in every industry.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Carousel Ads
Since the new format’s first introduction 15 months ago, carousel ads are quickly becoming a powerful and widely-used tool in Facebook’s portfolio. Not surprisingly, spending on these types of ads went up by over 400% between Q4 of 2014 and Q1 of 2015 alone. We can only guess how much that spending will continue to rise, considering the increasing evidence of lower CPC and significantly higher CTR when using these types of ads vs. traditional “link” ads.
How do you achieve those results? By keeping these tips in mind:
- Stay true to your audience. Remember that even as you showcase 3-5 products or other types of content, they will be shown in a single ad. Because of that, you can only select one target audience, which means that all of your products should be relevant for that target audience. It wouldn’t make sense, for example, to showcase men’s and women’s fashion to an audience only consisting of 18-25 year old males, even if you sell a wide range of apparel.
- Keep your carousel items closely related. Similarly to the first point, the fact that you’re only using a single ad for multiple products means that these individual products should be closely related to each other. Members of your target audience who see the ads do not expect to be taken through a wide range of your products, even if all of these products would adhere to point 1 and be generally relevant to that audience. They’re looking for alternatives that fit within the same mindset, so your products should make sense together.
- Don’t be afraid to get creative. You’ll notice that in most of our examples in this section, we stuck to relatively traditional examples of e-commerce businesses using carousel ads. But as we mentioned earlier in this post, that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative! The dynamic scrolling means you can have plenty of fun with an ad to make it stand out, as you can see in these examples.
- Be mindful of the specs. As is the case with any digital ads, be sure to design your creative around the ad specifications. The general ad text should be no longer than 90 characters to avoid an arbitrary cutoff, the individual pictures should be square and ideally 600×600 pixels, the headline for each tab should stay at or below 25 characters and the link description should be no more than 30 characters. Staying within these guidelines helps ensure that your carousel ads will be just as beautiful as you imagine.
- Carry over your strategy. Finally, it’s important to stay consistent within your digital marketing strategy. While carousel ads are a great way to use a relatively new and unique feature to your advantage, they probably won’t be the only social media or even Facebook advertising of yours floating around the web. To avoid message incongruity and ensure positive feedback from your audience, be sure that all of your digital ads combine to present the same core value proposition and visual identity.
The Low Cost of Carousel Ads
That leaves one aspect of carousel ads to discuss: cost. And you’ll be happy to know that they work just like every other type of Facebook ads, allowing the advertiser to choose between cost per impression, cost per click, or cost per conversion. When this new type of ad was first released, marketers understandably worried that the popular CPC would break budgets everywhere; would each click on a different tab of the ad mean an extra charge for the advertiser?
Fortunately, the answer to that question is no. Facebook only counts 1 click for the first 30 seconds of exposure to the ad, meaning that multiple clicks within those first 30 seconds are free. You do get charged for additional clicks after that fact, but because these clicks come from users who are showing significant interest in your products, that only makes sense. And considering the lower CPC and higher CTR of these ads when compared to their more traditional alternatives, the ROI for you will still be significant.