Facebook Newsfeed Ads vs. Right Column Ads (CASE STUDY)

Facebook Newsfeed ads vs. Right Column ads - Case Study

Recently I’ve started using Facebook Right Column Ads (RCA) in my portfolio of Facebook campaigns.

I love the fact the RCA are larger and use images that are the same dimensions as the Newsfeed ads.  This way I can use the same images I use in Newsfeed ads for Right Column Ads.

Nevertheless, I decided to get more scientific and compare Newsfeed Ads with Right Column Ads to see which type performed best overall.

Before I get into the Case Study, I’ll briefly cover the main differences between Newsfeed ads and Right Column ads.

Key differences:

1.  CTR:  You should get a much higher CTR with Newsfeed ads.

2.  CPM:  Newsfeed ads will cost much more for each display.

3.  Engagement: Newsfeed ads can get engagement such as likes and shares (as well as clicks to your site) while Right Column Ads only click through to your site.  This is an important distinction if you’re also wanting to attract fans to your Facebook page.  Newsfeed ads get far more fans than Right Column Ads (read how I got 100,000 Facebook fans in under 1 year here and Why Facebook Newsfeed ads can generate more traffic than you think).

4.  Size: Newsfeed ads are much larger and show up in a more prominent section of peoples’ Newsfeeds.

5.  Performance:  Well that’s the point of this case study.  Recently I’ve had some very successful Right Column Ads.  For the most part I use Newsfeed ads so having some success with Right Column Ads is great because it’s another opportunity for low-cost ads.

Background Details of this Case Study:

  • 2 Campaigns.  Campaign 1 created with Qwaya software.  Campaign 2 created using the Facebook ad creator.
  • Start date: December 22, 2014 for both campaigns.
  • Each campaign has 6 ad sets.  3 right column ad sets and 3 Newsfeed ad sets in each campaign.
  • Each ad targets Desktop users only (no mobile ads in the campaigns)
  • Each ad set has 1 ad
  • 1 image (the same image) used for all 6 ad sets in both campaigns.
  • Same interests and custom audiences used (I split up ad sets – each targeting either 1 interest or one custom audience).
  • Same age range, gender and country (USA) for all ad sets in both campaigns.
  • Same daily budgets initially set for all ad sets in both campaigns.  On day 2 I increased budgets for a couple of ad sets (due to really good performance).
  • In other words the ads and ad sets are identical with 1 exception: The only difference is that the right column ads have one section of text and don’t have the “Learn More” button (because it’s not an option).
  • Metric I’m most concerned about:  cost of traffic to my site (i.e. “Cost Per Website Click”).

Why 2 identical campaigns?  

Because I’m also comparing the effectiveness of ads created on Qwaya vs. created using the Facebook ad creator interface.

Why am I increasing the budgets of select ad sets?

I’m running this case study as if these were my real campaigns and ad sets.  My practice is to increase budgets of winners.  I want to see how, in the long run, the two types of ads perform with adjustments in daily budgets.

Results after 24 hours (December 22 to 23/14):

Campaign #1 (Created with Qwaya)

Campaign 1 comparing Facebook Newsfeed ads with Right Column Ads

Campaign #2 (Created with Facebook Ad Creator)

Campaign 2 comparing Facebook Right Column Ads with Newsfeed Ads

Initial Results by Day 2:

FYI, costs for the ads improved on day 2.  The above screenshots show costs from launch. For instance, in campaign 2 on day 2 alone, one ad was generating website clicks at $.17 and another at $.19 (which are very good signs by only day 2).

Campaign 1:

  • Right ad average cost per website click:  $.37
  • Newsfeed ad average cost per website click:  $.47

Campaign 2:

  • Right ad average cost per website click:  $.52
  • Newsfeed ad average cost per website click:  $.28

Comments After 2 Days:

1.  Averages are meaningless: Averages don’t mean much because my practice is to wait 3 to 5 days, pause the high cost ads and keep the low cost ads.  The point is to launch many ad sets and many ads with the intention to get a few ads performing very well.

2.  It’s far too early to come to any conclusion.  I like to wait 3 to 5 days before making any conclusions.  However, as soon as any one ad set is performing well, I increase the budget.

3.  Qwaya vs. Facebook Ad Creator: I find it very strange that there’s such a discrepancy between Qwaya and Facebook created ads.  In fact, I asked my Facebook rep to look into this discrepancy because it appears that Qwaya ads may cost more (I’ll wait and see what’s going on here).

4.  The cost of Facebook ads have been very expensive in December.  They’re still high (although I’ve noticed they’re coming down in recent days).  The best approach when trying to figure out what works best is to always be testing!

5.  Whatever results this case study generates, you should always do your own testing.  There are so many variables with Facebook advertising that it’s always good to run your own campaigns.

6.  What’s your primary goal with your ads?  My main metric is cost per website click.  That’s what this case study focuses on.  However, if you have other metrics, that’s obviously what you’ll want to compare.

7.  Most important tip:  It only takes one ad!  What I mean by this is your goal should not hoping that every ad and every ad set will be a success.  I never worry about having poorly performing ad sets.  What I care about is getting a few well-performing ad sets (and learning what works and what doesn’t).

UPDATE – December 28, 2014 (Ads running 7 days):

Campaign #1 (Created with Qwaya)

Campaign 1 December 28 2014

Campaign #2 (Created with Facebook Ad Creator)

Campaign 2 December 28 - 2014

Campaign 1:

  • Right ad average cost per website click:  $.28
  • Newsfeed ad average cost per website click:  $.43

Campaign 2:

  • Right ad average cost per website click:  $.35
  • Newsfeed ad average cost per website click:  $.29

Concluding remarks:

1.  I will be pausing every ad set except one that’s getting $.13 cost per click in Campaign #2.

2.  In this one case study, there is insufficient data to conclude whether one type of ad is better than the other.  This is further supported by the fact I have many very good (i..e low cost) Newsfeed campaigns and some very good right ad campaigns.

3.  Overall, I focus on Newsfeed ad campaigns because they tend to perform better (in my niche).  However, I do create Right Ads because some do perform very well.

4.  Always do your own testing.  Your niche may work best with Right Ads.

5.  IMPORTANT:  This comparison is a success in that one out of 12 ad sets resulted in a very low cost ad costing only $.13 per click.  Further information about this particular ad set is that it’s based on a 2% look-alike custom audience created from existing Facebook fans.  Also, it’s a Newsfeed ad.  I will be increasing this ad set’s budget and pausing all other ad sets.

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