This post was written by Heather Heddens. Heather has been helping advertisers increase their profitability via digital marketing for the past five years and is currently a Growth Manager at Thesis Testing where she helps DTC E-commerce clients scale their growth.
For years, Facebook has been encouraging advertisers to use their Automated Placements targeting feature. While advertisers have the option to manually select exactly where ads display, the selection of Automatic Placements qualifies an ad as eligible to be shown in any of the placements across Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and the Audience Network.
Facebook pushes using Automatic Placements as a best practice because their targeting is standardized across all placements, and using every available placement will widen your audience. A wider audience often equates to a cheaper CPA and a higher return on investment. However, using the Automatic Placements feature gives Facebook free reign to distribute your budget across placements as they please based on your ad’s performance signals.
Unfortunately Apple’s iOS 14 update is forcing Facebook to implement a variety of platform changes, and one of these changes is the removal of placement breakdowns. When this change goes into effect, advertisers will no longer be able to see the distribution of ad spend to each placement when using the Automated Placements feature. With this loss of data looming right around the corner, it’s more important than ever to understand where this feature is distributing your ad spend.
Below I have pulled the percentage of spend allocated to each of Facebook’s available platforms for 15 Direct To Consumer E-commerce brands. The data is pulled from January 1st to the 31st, 2021 and all brands included were using the Automatic Placements feature.
On average, Facebook by far allocates the majority of spend directly to users on Facebook. Of the 15 brands I looked at, only two brands were spending more on Instagram than Facebook. Notably, the two brands spending more on Instagram are from completely different verticals. The one thing every single brand has in common is that that Messenger accounts for nearly 0%!
This platform breakdown is especially interesting when determining how to tackle creative. Clearly, if such a miniscule portion of spend is on the Audience Network and Messenger, it isn’t in your brands best interest to prioritize making creative specifically for those placements. It’s very common for brands to design their ads to be Instagram friendly keeping Instagram’s aesthetic in mind during ad ideation and creation. For a brand like Brand 15, that would prove significantly less valuable than leaning into Facebook and prioritizing creative specifically for that platform.
Even on each platform (Facebook vs. Instagram) there are a series of additional placements with their own creative best practices. So this begs the question, how is ad spend split at a more granular level? I once again pulled a placement breakdown for the same 15 Brands as above, but this time narrow in on the main placements of each platform: the Facebook Feed, Facebook Stories, Facebook Misc, Instagram Feed, Instagram Stories and Instagram Explore. Facebook Misc is composed of Facebook’s less frequently used placements including Facebook’s Video Feed, Instant Articles, Marketplace, the Right Hand Column, Search and Instream Video.
On average when using Facebook’s Automatic Placements about 66% of spend is allocated towards the Facebook Feed. While one brand did have more spend allocated towards the Instagram Feed, not a single brand had most of their spend going to any stories placement with an average of about 8% spent on Instagram Stories and less than 1% spent on Facebook Stories.
If you’re curious about your brand’s own breakdown I highly suggest pulling your data as soon as possible. While Facebook hasn’t confirmed a specific date, they have confirmed the ability to pull placement breakdowns will be removed in the near future for both app and web conversions.