The time has come to pop the champagne! 2018 is swiftly approaching, and we have all survived yet another year of social media–consumed lifestyles. That’s right, another year of wasting hours upon hours on Facebook has passed before our very eyes.

year in facebook ads

As always, Facebook has been a part of some rather large controversies. From debates around politics and “fake news,” to discussions around privacy policies, to making some major updates for advertisers, a lot has happened with Facebook in 2017!

Perhaps your New Year’s resolution is to spend less time on social media. Regardless, as a marketer it is your duty to keep up with the trends on social, and utilize them to your advantage. In this post I’ll take a deeper dive into seven of the major Facebook updates that affect you, the advertiser (or agency!). You may just discover some new Facebook ad features or improvements that will help you advertise more effectively as we move into 2018.

#1: Power Editor and Ads Manager Merged!

From time to time Facebook would introduce some small improvements to either Ads Manager or Power Editor, whether it be a new design to Ads Manager or updated reports in Power Editor.

Well, in September of 2017, Facebook got tired of updating both and decided that it was more logical to merge the two into one platform called Ads Manager (RIP Power Editor).

facebook year in review

Luckily for Power Editor users there were no major life-altering changes aside from the name change. Ads Manager users weren’t ill effected by this change either since they actually received some shiny new features, including:

  • Options for workflows for ad creation: Advertisers now have the option to use the updated workflows from Power Editor that allow you to draft a campaign, and hop around to different ad sets and ads to work on out of order; this is typically used by more experienced advertisers. The older ad creation workflow is also still available for original Ads Manager users who prefer the guided step-by-step process.
  • The ability to review drafts outside the side panel before publishing: This is a minor feature originally part of Power Editor brought over during the merge. Advertisers still need to navigate with caution and make sure to never hit “Publish” unless absolutely ready to publish. Rather if you’re making changes outside of the side panel like importing ads, duplicating ads, or deleting ads, you’ll need to review draft items first, and then hit “confirm changes” to publish.

The merge isn’t too scary, right? In fact the majority of features have not changed and no features have been removed from either platform, so you can now enjoy a more streamlined system, and worry no more about making a choice between the two ad management options.

#2: New Ecommerce and Retail Focused Ad Formats Added

This year Facebook decided to expand the ad format options to allow for more creativity and flexibility for retailers, ecommerce businesses, and anyone selling physical items looking to take advantage of these visually intriguing ads.

These product-focused “collection” ads were announced in March of 2017, and allow marketers to tell a more visual story with their ads using an immersive video experience (with an emphasis on mobile).

Why video? According to Facebook, three in four consumers report that watching a video heavily influences their purchase decision on social media. Big brand names like Adidas have seen these new formats making a huge impact on sales, with a 5.3X return on ad spend.

facebook collection ads

So what’s the deal with these ads? How exactly do they work? I’ll let the experts from Facebook explain it in their own words: “Clicking on the ad leads a person to an immersive, fast-loading shopping experience on Facebook that can showcase up to 50 products at a time,” says Facebook. “Tapping on a product will take the most interested people to a product detail page on a business’ website or app to purchase.”

These sound complicated to configure… Well, good news: They’re not! “Collections are designed to be easy for merchants to set up, with Facebook doing the heavy lifting of choosing the right products to showcase from the merchants’ broader catalog,” says Anthony Ha from TechCrunch.

To learn more about Facebook collection ads check out this page.

#3: Facebook Adds Ability to Exclude Content Categories

Have you ever been so excited to see your ad out in the wild, until you noticed it was the ad before a controversial or inappropriate video? If you’re selling children’s toys, you might not want your ad appearing alongside a violent video game.

Facebook saw the need to allow advertisers to exclude certain content from being associated with their brand, so they addressed this issue by adding “Exclude Categories” under “Edit Placements” > “Advanced Options” in Ads Manager.

facebook ad exclusions

There are five categories you can choose from, including dating, gambling, tragedy & conflict, mature content, and debatable social issues. You no longer need to lay awake worrying about what controversial content your ad is going to appear alongside next. Facebook will do this for you.

However, they do have some cautionary text reading: “Note that Facebook will try to ensure your ad is not shown against the categories of content you choose to block, but cannot guarantee success in blocking your ad 100% of the time.” While this language may just be there to protect themselves legally, it’s good to be aware of.

#4: Updated Policies to Make Advertising More Transparent

As I mentioned at the start of this post, Facebook has dealt with a lot of controversy over the last couple years due to two little words often echoed by our president: “fake news.” Don’t worry, I am not about to get political on you, but I, like many others, do believe the proliferation of false news can be extremely detrimental to our political environment. This is why I was quite pleased to see that Facebook is taking action to protect against so called “foreign interference” or in layman’s terms “fake news.”

facebook fake news

So let’s get to the down and dirty of what Facebook is doing to improve transparency and battle spam:

  • Hiring 10,000 people to improve security: Facebook isn’t just relying on their powerful platform technology to fight spam, they’re actually hiring real live people including ad reviewers, engineers, and security experts to identify and remove content violations and fake accounts.
  • Blocking ads from pages repeatedly marked as false: Why haven’t they done this already? Well, who cares, they’re doing it now! If third-party fact checkers are continuously marking a page false, then that page won’t have much luck advertising on Facebook from now on.
  • Facebook is sharing 3,000 ads with Congress! This one might stir up some controversy, but Facebook is now partnering with the government to identify and block any common threats.
  • Fighting fake news: Facebook has (finally) announced that they’re making an active effort to shut down fake news.
  • Reducing clickbait: Who likes clickbait? Certainly not Facebook; they’re making active efforts to prevent clickbait stories in your news feed.

These are all critical updates that it’s reassuring to see taking place. “We take this issue seriously and are committed to doing our part to help prevent foreign interference in the future,” says Facebook.

#5: New Tools to Grow Facebook Communities

For many marketers, Facebook communities are their bread and butter, and Facebook is no longer putting them on the backburner. Communities allow a group of people to join together around a common topic, and many businesses have leveraged communities to fuel their business.

In fact, in June of 2017 Facebook hosted their very first Communities Summit where they announced a plethora of new tools to community admins including:

  • Groups insights: This allows admins and moderators see real-time metrics around engagement and growth.
  • Membership request filters and improved clean-up: This new feature takes the pain out of sorting through new member requests, and allows admins to set some standards around who they do and do not accept. They’ve also added features to make it easer to remove members from a group, helping ensure safety from “bad actors.”
  • The ability to schedule posts: Group admins and moderators are busy people! Now they can plan ahead and schedule posts to better manage their time
  • Group to group linking: This allows admins to recommend similar groups to their members.

facebook 2017

In October 2017, Facebook announced even more new features for communities including welcome posts, badges, member profiles, new management controls, etc.! Read more about these updates here.

#6: New Features for International Advertising

Did you know that while 88% of Facebook’s audience is outside the US and Canada, half of their ad revenue (48%) comes from ads targeted to people in the US and Canada? Crazy, right?! Facebook thinks so too, which is why they recently announced new tools to helps businesses expand their ads to international audiences.

Check out the four features Facebook added to improve the international advertising barrier:

  • Dynamic langue optimization: This will allow businesses to include multiple languages in one campaign, and Facebook will do the heavy lifting matching the correct language to the right person.
  • International lookalike audiences: If you’ve used lookalike audiences before you are aware of how powerful they can be. Well, good news, now they can be even more powerful! Businesses can now use multi-country looking audiences to find their target customers in any combination of regions.

international lookalike audiences in facebook

  • Multi-city targeting: Yay! It is now possible for advertisers to target all cities above a certain population size without needing to research and add cities one by one.
  • IQ Cross-Border Insights Finder: Want to expand internationally, but not sure where? This new Facebook tool will help you find untapped markets with high potential for your business based on past campaign performance on Facebook, Instagram, and Audience Network. Pretty cool stuff.

#7: Instant Videos Are in the Works

While this feature hasn’t been released into the wild just yet, it is in the works, and likely to be a thing in the nearby future. Instant Videos will allow you to download and cache Facebook videos to your phone while connected to WiFi for later viewing without wasting cellular data.

“Instant Videos could be a game-changer for advertisers in the developing countries with a slow mobile Internet connection,” says Adstage. “For places where mobile data is pricey, and the network is weak, the new feature can level the playing field — at the very least when it comes to ads.”

Instant Videos will improve the cost and accessibility of videos to users, which in turn helps advertisers. While this feature isn’t available quite yet, Facebook told TechCrunch that a few Android users are currently testing it.

Wow! A lot happened in 2017! Enjoy the new features, and stay tuned for 2018 updates.