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January 25, 2018

Launched in 2015, Facebook dynamic product ads have taken the advertising world by storm, enabling e-commerce brands to “promote multiple products, or their entire catalogs, across all the devices their customers use: phones, tablets, and desktop computers.”

Since then, the Facebook advertising platform has evolved substantially around the concept of a product feed, which is at the nucleus of several powerful Facebook features for organic promotion, paid advertising, and remarketing

We’ve helped several of our clients build, manage, and leverage product feeds, are sharing our thoughts on setting them up and leveraging them and in this post.

 

Facebook Product Catalog 101
First things first, definitions. A product catalog in Business Manager contains a list of all the products you want to advertise–also known as your product feed. Each line within a product catalog includes a product ID, name, category, availability, product URL, image URL and other product attributes.

There are multiple ways to upload your product feed to Facebook, but one of the most common ways is to create a CSV file containing the list of the products you want to promote and then uploading it to Facebook. One of the selling points for product feeds is that they’re easy to keep up-to-date. We typically do this by publishing Google sheets to the web so we can keep them dynamically updated. You can either upload single data feeds or schedule regular updates within the same interface.
Many e-commerce sites (ShopifyMagento, etc.) have also streamlined this process with built-in integrations for uploading and keeping your product feed up-to-date.

The product feed can provide value on its own, or work hand-in-hand with the Facebook Pixel or mobile SDK for remarketing campaigns.

 

Considerations For Setting Up Your Product Feed
Setting up a product feed is certainly no easy feat, as no product library is alike–your products might come in several different sizes, colors, flavors, materials, etc. You might sell 15 items, or you might have 15,000 listings.

To optimize for all of those variations, Facebook has designed product feeds to be largely customizable. In setting up your feed, here are a few guidelines to keep in mind…

  • Add as many filters and categorizations (organized by column) to your product feed as possible. Is the product it for men or women? Adults or children? Color? Product type? Department? You can then use these categories to build product sets to utilize within your ad sets.
  • Similarly, make sure to add ‘availability’ as a column. There’s nothing worse than spending money to deliver out-of-stock products.
  • If you have a large product feed, consider adding only your top products. The drawback to this is that you have to do so manually. Thus your feed won’t be dynamically up-to-date.
  • If your listings contain user generated content (reviews, images, etc.), be sure to do some manual quality control.
  • If you’re advertising to audiences that speak different languages, you’ll need to create multiple product catalogs for each language. Unless your company has several different product offerings, try to consolidate your products into single catalogs.

Now that your Facebook product feed is uploaded and ready to rock, we’ll review a checklist of tactics to leverage it. Ultimately, if you’ve invested the time and resources to maintain a clean, up-to-date product feed, you want to use it to your advantage, serving more content to more users, scaling conversions, and ultimately improving Facebook and Instagram ROI.

 

#1: Adding Items to Your Facebook ‘Shop’

The Shop Section, a feature that is gradually rolling out across the US, allows you to sell items directly from your Facebook page.

If you have access, adding a ‘Shop’ section should be a no-brainer, as it requires no additional workflows. When browsing products on Facebook ‘Shop,’ users can either check out directly from Facebook or be directed to an external site.

Now that you have your products uploaded to your product feed and ready for sale on Facebook, it’s time to promote them–with both organic and paid posts.

 

#2: Tagging Products in Organic Instagram & Facebook Posts

Tagging your products in images and videos across Facebook and Instagram is a newer feature, and is one of our favorite types of organic posts at the moment. This is a beautiful way to integrate products into your lifestyle images, setting price expectations up-front with user-friendly flows. Once you’ve uploaded a product feed, it’s straightforward to do as well!

There are different steps to tagging products on Page posts and on Instagram…

Tagged images have taken Instagram by storm as they’re incredibly mobile friendly. These differ from collection ads (which we discuss later in this post), and although they can be boosted, Facebook doesn’t recommend it.

 

#3: Automated Product Ads for Prospecting

Although advertisers are more familiar with using dynamic product ads for retargeting (outlined in the next section), they can be used for prospecting too! Whether you’re showing ads to lookalike or broad audiences,  automated ads for prospecting can be both time-saving and highly-engaging.

These ads pull in products and elements from product feeds and serve them with customizable overlay templates. Advertisers can use overlays to display price, shipping details, and discounts by simply pulling in columns from the product feed.

This feature alone is reason enough to play around with a product feed, allowing you to spin up hundreds of ads from a single source easily. Our technology partner, Smartly.io, gives us an additional layer of control with their image template editor.

There are a million ways to slice and dice your automated ads campaigns, but here are a few of our hot takes:

  • Make use of your product sets built from product feed categories. Within each campaign, split out ad sets to target genders, users with specific interests, in specific geographic areas, and more. You can then target those ad sets with product sets of your product catalog.
  • For prospecting, you certainly don’t need your full product feed. Consider providing only your top items to avoid this catastrophic (albeit hilarious) situation…

  • Before spending the time and resources on feeding your products into your multi-product feeds with a substantial budget, we recommend testing pseudo automated ads to find the best template overlay. Your template might contain sale language, item names, price, or even emojis. Roll out your best templates to your automated ads. Using this tactic, we helped one of our clients boost ROI 95% in local markets using automated ads.

 

#4: Fueling Dynamic Product Ads for Retargeting

As we’ve alluded to already, the most talked about application for Facebook product feeds is for Dynamic product ads (DPA). These ads work by matching viewed products on your website (tracked with the Facebook Pixel or SDK) to items within your product feed.

Once you’ve pulled in your product catalog, the next step is to determine how you want to retarget your audience and what kinds of products you want to serve them.

There are millions of ways to optimize your DPA, but here are our tips and ideas as a baseline…

  • If running multi-product carousels, keep in mind that Facebook may show up to 30 images. If you’re dealing with a huge feed, make sure you’re only showing the appropriate product sets, and sorting to show appropriate items.
  • Pulling in images dynamically can be tricky if you’re utilizing overlay templates. To keep that from happening, you may want to consider building a manual feed with resized images.
  • DPA isn’t just for immediate retargeting! Yes, you can retarget ads to people who abandoned the item in their shopping cart or viewed the product, but DPA should be viewed as an engagement tool. Get creative with upselling, cross-selling, and even seasonal product launches by manipulating how you’re segmenting your audiences. Using Dynamic Product Ads for cross-selling related products, we helped one of our e-commerce clients improve CTRs 19%.
  • Keep in mind that although the Facebook algorithm will get smarter about who to serve which products to, you know your business best. Implement what you already know–which demographics like which products, what products are commonly purchased together, etc.–to give your dynamic product ads direction.
  • Keep the user flow in mind. Would they appreciate constant bombardment of ads? Whether you’re targeting cart abandoners or web page bouncers, build in a delay and a cap. We recommend retargeting users between three and seven days.

Although they’ve been misunderstood and construed in many a meme as creepy, this feature has undoubtedly changed the game for advertisers.

 

#5: Collections Ads Powered by Product Feed

In addition to leveraging your product feed to serve images and carousels in highly intelligent campaigns, this feature is also crucial to one of Facebook’s new ad formats. Launched in the spring of 2017, collection ads are a Bamboo favorite. They’re mobile-only (for now) ad formats that leverage product-centric images from your product feed combined with lifestyle images and videos.

Combined with Canvas formats, there are two collection layouts advertisers can use to promote products:

  • Grid Collection: This format is great to showcase one main video, image, or slideshow along with products. These are great for four or more similar products, displayed in a grid of up to 50 products.

Grid Collection: Image courtesy of Facebook

  • Lifestyle Collection: Facebook encourages advertisers to use this template to create digital versions of existing print catalog, or an immersive discover experience. Advertisers can also tag products in the images within this format.
While many advertisers are apprehensive about adding an additional step between clicking an ad and making a purchase, we’re starting to see some early indicators of promise. Collection ads had 193% higher CTRs for one retail client, although acquisition costs were slightly higher.

If the value of implementing your product feed isn’t already apparent, here are a few ‘pros’ of leveraging Facebook product feeds to create product-centric ads for prospecting and retargeting…

  • Product feeds enable you to dynamically run ads–both for retargeting and prospecting at scale without having to individually configure ads.
  • Keeping your product feed up-to-date means keeping your ads up-to-date. When items go out-of-stock (because your retargeting efforts are so good, obviously), you won’t serve ads for them.
  • Dynamic ads are smart. Facebook will learn which products to serve to which audiences, eventually improving ROI and scale.

On the other hand, there are certainly cons…

  • Setting up a feed for huge product feeds can be unruly, especially without e-commerce platform infrastructure. It’s certainly not for the novice advertiser, but arguably, worth the investment.
  • For larger feeds, you probably want to do some manual clean-up, thus getting rid of the ‘always up-to-date’ value.
  • Dynamic product ads aren’t a silver bullet, and we’re still testing to see if they are sustainable means of achieving down-funnel success. You definitely shouldn’t forego good old fashioned creativity in the name of dynamic product ads.

Although they’re certainly not new, product feeds are largely underutilized, and mostly perceived as a way to power Dynamic Product Ads (DPA) for retargeting. Taken holistically, product feeds can have a broader and meaningful impact, changing the Facebook game especially for e-commerce, travel, and automotive, brands.


Interested in building your product feed but don’t have the resources? Learn more about leveraging our Facebook advertising services >

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We design and execute highly scalable paid social programs for world-class brands in a mobile-first world.

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