Facebook has released a new research report which looks at the evolving role of social media in the product discovery process, which, in summary, suggests that using Facebook ads in combination with your SEO process can drive significantly better results.
But Facebook would say that, right? You’d have to say that there’s a fairly significant conflict of interest in the determination of such results.
But however you want to view it, here’s a quick summary of how Facebook went about its research, what they found, and what that could mean for your approach.
First off, Facebook notes that previous third-party research has pointed to the evolving role of social media in the discovery process.
A recent report from Forrester found that social media platforms have seen a significant rise in discovery use in the last five years, while search engine use has declined in the same period.
Another report from Curalate found that 76% of US consumers have purchased a product they saw in a brand’s social media post, with 11% buying online immediately and 44% buying online at a later time.
That, according to Facebook, poses a challenge for marketers because the path to purchase is generally not direct. This is also the rising concern with last-click attribution – traditionally, marketers have relied on metrics which measure the last place a user clicked to their website from as the source of their product discovery, but these stats show that, increasingly, that’s not correct. If the above stats are indicative, social can be attributed with some 3x more influence over purchase behaviour than it currently is.
To test this, Facebook conducted an analysis of more than 200 ad campaigns across various sectors - auto, CPG, entertainment, technology and retail. Facebook researchers broke down the results to divide users into two groups – those who came to a website via search who also saw a Facebook ad, and those who came from search without seeing Facebook ads.
“On average, Facebook ads were responsible for 19% more organic Google Search-referred site visits and 10% more for paid Google Search-referred visits vs. when people didn't see Facebook ads. Combining this data with Conversion Lift results, we found that incremental search-and-clickers driven by Facebook ads were likely to take actions on the site during their visit (including purchases, adding items to cart, and viewing specific content). On average, 1 of every 2 incremental Google Search-referred site visits driven by Facebook ads led to an incremental action on the site.”
In other words, by using Facebook ads in combination with SEO, you can increase the performance of your campaigns by some 19%, in terms of site visits, with subsequent gains in actual purchase behaviour.
As noted, you would expect Facebook to say that, but the methodology here make sense, as does the result. If you, as a user, are seeing Facebook ads that align with your search behaviors (potentially through retargeting), that would probably make you more likely to act.
The bottom line suggestion here is that brands should look to use their audience analytics from their website to fuel their Facebook ad targeting, augmenting SEO with social, and better catering to evolving discovery processes.
You can read the full Facebook ‘How Facebook Ads Drive online Search’ report here.