Facebook Advertising: Ad Manager vs. Boost

If you’re just starting to dabble in digital advertising, you have probably seen the enticing “Boost” button at the bottom of Facebook posts. Or maybe you’ve received notifications from Facebook saying you could reach 90% more people if you boost your post for $25. Let’s talk about what features are available in a post boost.

Katie Hecox
Digital Strategist

Why should you advertise on Facebook?

With over 2 billion monthly active users on Facebook, coupled with more than 700 million users on Instagram (its counterpart), it should come as no surprise that digital advertising on Facebook is a smart move and should be worked into your overall digital strategy. Moreover, HubSpot reports over 50% of those users follow one or more businesses. To sweeten the deal, Zuckerberg announced in mid-2016 that users globally spend an average of 50 minutes a day on Facebook—that’s as much time as people spend eating and drinking every day!

It’s fair to say Facebook properties (Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram) have reach, am I right? That reach not only extends to its monthly active users, but also to its 5 million plus businesses that are advertising on the social network each month. With room to grow in the small business sector, research firm eMarketer expects the social network, along with Google, to make up more than 46 percent of all online ad spending in 2018.

Of the 5 million advertisers on Facebook properties, nearly 50 percent of those advertisers create mobile ads to distribute. This is a smart move considering over 90 percent of Facebook’s users access the social platform through mobile devices. That being said, mobile advertising accounts for a whopping 84 percent of all ad revenue according to Facebook.

What’s the difference between boosting a post and creating an ad?

If you’re just starting to dabble in digital advertising, you have probably seen the enticing “Boost” button at the bottom of Facebook posts. Or maybe you’ve received notifications from Facebook saying you could reach 90% more people if you boost your post for $25.

Let’s talk about what features are available in a post boost.

  • Boosting a post assumes you’ve already created the post. To that effect, the boost action is typically an afterthought.
  • When boosting, you have a few options to control your audience. By selecting People you choose through targeting, you’ll be able to target an audience by location, age, gender, and interests. It should be noted that these options are limited and only provide a high-level targeting filter. The other targeting option is People who like your Page and their friends. This means the only people who will see your boosted post either already follow your Page or are connected to someone who follows your Page.
  • You have the ability to choose a budget in increments of $5, $20, $30, $40, or a custom budget. Based on the selected budget, the boost tool will provide an estimate of how many people your post will reach.
  • The post will automatically boost for one day, but you can select up to 7 days.

All of that sounds great, but it’s only great if it aligns with your overall goals and objectives. If you’re promoting a specific event to your Page followers, a boosted post could be just the right amount of advertising to get the word out. Likewise, if you’re promoting an in-store or online sale, a boost to people who already follow your page might be a good option.

However, if your goal is to drum up new business, reach audiences in multiple locations, or track any kind of conversion, boosting a post isn’t the way to go due to its limited reporting abilities.

Social engagement is good, but likes are not synonymous with leads.

Enter the Facebook Ad Manager…

If a boosted post is an afterthought, consider an ad a pre-meditated form of audience targeting. As Stephen Covey puts it in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, begin with the end in mind—this means having a clear grasp on the marketing objective, the target audience, and well-planned creative assets.

Let’s jump into the numerous features Ad Manager provides.

  • From the get go, you’ll have an option to choose a marketing objective. Whether you’re hoping to gain awareness, generate leads, or increase product sales, you’ll have an opportunity to select an objective. Facebook’s algorithm will help to optimize the campaign based on that objective.
  • Similar to boosting a post, you’ll have the opportunity to target the audience. However, this audience builder is much more robust.In addition to the robust targeting, you’ll have the option to save the audience for future use. This is helpful and speeds up the process for ad campaigns in the future. Targeting features include: multiple locations plus miles radius, exclude locations, age range, gender, languages, and detailed targeting which includes demographics, interests, or behaviors including but not limited to: education level, average income, shopping behaviors, retailer preferences, type of living accommodations, and so much more.
  • Ad placement is an available feature to change, although I tend to let Facebook optimize placement based on where the target audience is most likely to see. That way I don’t have to manually monitor the placement throughout the campaign.
  • Based on how long you want the ad campaign to run, you can select a daily budget or lifetime budget. A daily budget ensures that the ads will be delivered enough times per day to meet your budget, while a lifetime budget automatically optimizes ads to deliver at the best time during the campaign. Along with selecting the campaign duration and budget, you have the ability to select what time of day ads are displayed. This is helpful to ensure your budget isn’t blown on ad displays at 3:00 AM.
  • After the campaign parameters are in place, you’re prompted to set up the ad creative. If you remember back to the boosted post, your creative options are limited to however you set up the original post. The forethought of creating an ad allows you to select a carousel, single image, video, or a slideshow.
  • Dropping in the ad creative and text is fairly straightforward. You’re able to see the ad update in real-time and you have the option to preview the ad in all the various placement settings such as the mobile news feed, desktop news feed, audience network banner, and so on.
  • Once the ad is created and implemented, the reporting tools within the Ad Manager are very comprehensive. You’re able to see high-level information such as click-through-rate, reach, cost-per-click, etc. Beyond that, you’re able to drill down and see analytics based on age, gender, location, platform, etc. The robust reporting tools provide great insight and help you understand how dollars are being spent.

The Bottom Line

After comparing the two programs, Facebook’s Ad Manager is clearly the more robust reporting tool. With extensive audience targeting, long-term budget and scheduling tools, and the creative assets portion of the Ad Manager, it allows for a more enhanced digital advertising experience. The features make it a great tool for tracking conversions, monitoring A/B testing, and understanding website analytics. However, that’s not to say there’s no place for boosted posts in the digital advertising ring. It’s important to assess your marketing objectives and have a clear understanding of the ROI. Remember: social engagement is good, but likes are not synonymous with leads.

If you’re embarking into the world of digital advertising and need a few pointers, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team. We’d love to chat and help get you off on the right foot!