Bob Regnerus: The Love-Hate Relationship of Facebook Advertising

Learning From Others

Jul 26 2021 • 30 mins

Today's guest is a digital marketing expert, and author of five books, including the 4th Edition of the Ultimate Guide to Facebook Advertising.

Since 1998, he has been helping his clients achieve their goals through digital media and storytelling, and he is eager to share his experience with you of not only the ups of Facebook advertising, but also what to watch out for.

Please welcome Bob Regnerus.

  • 00.00.53 Facebook Ads
  • 00.14.32 Ads Click-through Rate
  • 00.25.57 Published a Book

Contact Info

Bob Regnerus Facebook wizard. Thanks for jumping on learning from others. How are you? Hey, Damon. Good to be on man. Good. Look at you and your fancy background while the listeners can't see the fancy background, but you got a fancy background. I do I do it's yeah. It's a green screen with a nice blue background.

So it leaves at least some of the cluttered office, uh, out of people's of you. So these backgrounds are getting fancy. I was actually on a call just a little bit before you and I jumping on and the person says, how do I get rid of the background? And I said, are you talking about you can't get rid of your background?

He goes, no, no, no. That's not where I'm at. That was like, oh, that looks super real. Well, I love the ones where they're like on a beach or something. Yeah. Sit back in their chair and disappear into the ocean. That's always fun. Yeah. The stuff we never knew, we would learn in 2020, right? Yeah. All right, Bob.

Well, why we listening to you today? What are we going? Hey, I want to talk about Facebook ads, but doing it for seven plus years, been in direct marketing for 22 years. So, um, let's, let's learn a little bit about how to make Facebook, Facebook ads work. Right. But not until I ask you a question number two, which is what do you suck at Bob?

Um, well, I, I I'll give you two answers. Um, number one, I suck at it. So maybe that's just laziness, but like, thanks to this. My wife knows how to do it. Um, the other character I would say is, uh, I hate to lose, like, I'm a basketball coach, so like I'm just wired to win. So I'm a really poor loser, whether it's cards or I don't care if I like, if I lose a game or Rumi cube on my phone or something like I'm a sore loser.

So I'll give you two floods. Do you legitimately suck at ironing? Like you burned stuff or you just don't like it. I can't do the process. Like I can't iron a collared shirt and make it look good. Like I can get a little bit of the creases out, but I actually create more creases when I do it. So like, thank goodness I got a spouse that like enjoys it.

And, and also, you know what, I don't wear that many shirts that need to be ironed. So that's also, yeah. What, what, what type of age? Uh, basketball coach are we talking? High school, high school boys. So 15, 16 year old boy. Okay. All right. I'll let that one slide. I was going to say, are you like the aggressive seven-year-old coach?

Oh no, I did. I've been coaching for 33 years. I started when I was 16 years old and I've done it every year since, um, I've coached anywhere up from five-year-olds up to 18 year olds. So boys, girls. Yeah, I am not a screaming idiot. Right? Well, let's talk, let's talk Facebook ads. So, um, why don't we, why don't we start with Facebook ads?

1 0 1. What is it? What's so amazing about it. Let's start with super basics. Yeah. I mean, Facebook obviously is, is where everybody is. Um, it, it's a media that people spend hours per day on. And so. One of our responsibilities as a, as a, as a business is to be in front of the people where they're at. And Facebook makes it really easy to do that.

Obviously it's got its issues and we could dive into some of those, but Facebook remains one of the best places to reach your target audience in advertising today. Why is it such a good place to reach? Uh, what I like about it is you target people based on who they are. So you target at the kind of the user level versus keywords.

Like if you doing Google ad words, right? Um, Google ad words, you're figuring out what people might type in to solve a problem into the search engine. With Facebook. What you're doing is you're interrupted. You're, you're basically interrupting them, looking at pictures of family, friends, and food, and you interrupt them with an ad.

Um, but it's based on who they are and you figure out who your best prospect is, develop that list and target them. It's a really good way to advertise, I think, and you bring up a good point because I'm on the other side of the spectrum in the space of SEO. And, and I often talk about that same topic where it's not, you know, there's no one magic solution there's different, there's different, uh, advertising methods that are better or worse for different platforms, different platforms for different types of products and services.

And you brought up one of the main things I talk about is. Um, you know, on search engines, it's based on buyer intent, like you said, what's the question, that's the problem they want to solve, and that can be good or bad for certain products or services. And then likewise on Facebook, it's, you're targeting a demographic you're targeting habits, your targeting patterns.

And so that's better or worse for other types of products. Yeah. And similar to, you know, Google with Facebook, with, with their technology, with the other Facebook pixel, is they track behavior. Um, not only do they know what you put on your profile, the things you like, the things you read, they also know how you behave.

So they know your buying behaviors. So they know the types of stuff you buy, the type of stuff you're in market for. Um, so, you know, Facebook's use of, what's called a lookalike audience where you, you give them a list of customers and create a model. Um, Really it's powerful from the standpoint of finding more people that are likely to buy from you.

So like if you sell golf, like golf clubs and golf shoes, whatever, um, Facebook knows who's in market for that stuff. Uh, just the other day, I, um, I, I bought a driver, a new driver and. Was researching drivers. And guess what I saw in my Facebook feed for like the next two weeks, all kinds of golf stuff and not just golf clubs.

Yeah. I got re-targeted for the golf club, but I got targeted by, uh, golf courses, offering packages for the holidays. Um, I got targeted for training videos. So like Facebook knows you're in market for stuff and, and yeah, but like, if I'm going to buy a driver, maybe I do want to buy new shoes and maybe I do want to get a lesson or something like that.

So it's a really powerful mechanism if you want to, if you want to get in front of people and how does Facebook know all that stuff? Well, again, there's, there's a piece of code that's on basically every website it's called the pixel. And so what that's doing is it's not just tracking what's happening with your Facebook ads, it's tracking behavior of, of the user.

So Facebook knows that let's say they, and you do a good job for your client. And, you know, they're getting a lot of organic traffic based on these keywords to a blog or an article or whatever. If there's a Facebook pixel on there. And, and I happened to land on one of those, those pages, it knows that I'm interested in that topic, right.

So it's not just that. Oh, I clicked on a Facebook ad it's that Facebook knows that I visited that page. And maybe if I go visit another page that has a similar topic or similar, similar angle. Now I've created a pattern of behavior that the algorithm can pick up on. So it knows, oh, um, I might be interested in this particular health condition or something like that.

So that's what makes it powerful is the technology behind the tracking that's on there. You know, Facebook is probably in Google for that matter too, is going to be up against privacy laws and things like that. And that technology will probably change, but essentially, I don't think it goes away in terms of being able to track behavior and for, for advertisers to be able to target those people directly based on the things that they're interested in right now in the moment.

So I want to, you brought up privacy laws and technology. There's a couple things I want to ask you about your opinion on that here in a minute, but I kinda want. Go a little bit deeper on some of the basics for some listeners that might not understand. So it sounds like Facebook is a good tool for not only, um, you know, with, with SEO, the main driver, right.

Is to, to bring awareness to theoretically a new audience. And so, but, but with Facebook you can do new audience and retargeting, so you can play on both sides of the coin, right? Yeah. So, um, I recently wrote a book, the ultimate guide to Facebook advertising, and I purposely put retargeting in, in chapter three because it's a quick win for anybody.

So retargeting uses that pixel that I've been talking about basically to say, Hey, you know, I visited this particular site to research drivers and then other advertisers, you know, hooked onto that and showed me ads related to that. But also. Um, individual, like, uh, you know, I went to Dick's sporting goods website, you know, just for example, not PR, not endorsing them, of course, but I went to their site specifically to look at a, at a couple of different drivers.

Well, what happened is within, you know, within a couple hours of going into Facebook, I saw ads from Dick's sporting goods. Showing me the same driver that I was looking at, right. Reminding me that I did that. So retargeting is just simply the technology of, of calling people back. You know, one of the, one of the things that's kind of alarming for people is that, um, you know, 99% of the traffic that visits your site, Doesn't buy or doesn't leave their email address or doesn't do anything.

Uh, retargeting is the technology allows you to call them back. Um, you know, it hasn't really been around that long, but it really has transformed campaigns. So. W what are the things that we used to see before we really had retargeting in place was negative return on ad spend. So, you know, spend a dollar to make 25 cents for instance.

But if you run a retargeting campaign, you know, we routinely see, spend a dollar, make nine, make 15, make 30, um, retargeting allows, uh, especially if you're a new, especially in the e-commerce space to basically pull people back in based on the products they looked at. You know, give them an offer, invite them to come back and they buy, um, one of the most powerful things we teach is like, if you have a simple add to cart retargeting mechanism, uh, as a Facebook ad.

So somebody goes to your store, puts a product in their shopping cart and goes away. Um, according to, um, Banyard 69% of the people last year, um, put something into their cart and abandoned. So like that's huge, right? But just a simple retargeting ad to remind them that they had something in their cart and to call them back, um, is really powerful.

And that's where you can get those 30, 40, 50 to one return on ad spend, uh, types of types of numbers. So it's a powerful, powerful technology. So it sounds like. The goal is to be profitable on the initial ad, but it sounds like that sometimes it makes sense to be willing to take a loss on the initial ad and then convert it on the follow-up very, very big.

And, um, so it, it kinda depends on market Damon, but, um, let's just take like the supplement market, for instance. It's it's pretty routine that you're going to go negative a acquiring customer. So let's say, you know, you do a lot of these companies do free trials, well, or, you know, buy your first bottle of these supplement for a buck.

What they're willing to do is go negative, uh, on the front end because they know that they're going to get, make, you know, make that money up on continuity. But it, it is a challenge, uh, to. I'll I'll say this, Damon, the most expensive traffic you're ever going to generate is cold traffic. Uh, they don't know who you are.

They don't know about your brand. They don't know what services you provide or the products you have. So you really, you really have to have. What I call a good retargeting platform in place before you run any cold traffic, because retargeting traffic typically converts at a profit and it's usually a very healthy profit.

And so you need that in place. So when you do your cold traffic and you, you maybe are negative on the front end of that cold traffic, the retargeting. Uh, campaigns actually make you profitable, like early on. So you might be losing money, let's say in the first seven days. And if they buy within that seven day period, then you go back into the black.

Does that make sense? Yeah. Yeah. So how does, how does the bidding system work? Because I imagine it's not identical, but comparable in the concept. Facebook doesn't want to just give the ad space away to whoever throws the largest budget at it, because there could be some irrelevant ads. Is that true? Yeah, it's actually a big deal.

So, you know, one of the things that happened a few years ago is Facebook quote unquote, ran out of space, meaning they couldn't have any more. Onto their platform. So they started doing some other things like the, the, they created Facebook stories. Um, they created, what's called the audience network where you can see ads shown on apps and games you play and things like that.

But if we talk just about the newsfeed for a minute, that's where we traditionally see the ads roll by. So Facebook is not going to fill their newsfeed with all ads because that's a very poor user experience. Um, they, they have a very. Simple formula for each person and how many ads that they, that they want to see.

So Damon, you may say, I never click on ads. Your Facebook newsfeed may have one ad for every 20 posts that you see. And maybe I'm a little bit more like, like maybe I click on ads to more. So they may be show me two ads, every 10 posts or something like that. Okay. Facebook knows. Your behavior, but what's happening is at any millisecond.

There are there's, there's billions of auctions that happen every day. And there's, there's, there's hundreds of thousands that happen every millisecond. And so. There are a number of, of advertisers competing for my attention, competing for your attention. Um, all based on the targeting of the, those ads. So there's essentially a competition, every millisecond for my attention.

And so there's really three components that go into whether or not you're going to win the auction. The first is very obvious, which is your budget. So if you have a larger budget, you have a greater chance of winning the auction and getting your ad shown. Um, so if you have a limited budget, you're not going to win as many auctions.

Okay. But there's two components that really allow any advertiser to compete with somebody who's a big. First is the click-through rate of the ad. So Facebook does one thing. Um, when they, when, when they look to put your ad in front of somebody, they actually have, what's called an expected click through rate and they know your behavior.

They know my behavior, they know the listers behaviors. They, they generally know before they even show the ad the first time about what that ads click-through rate is going to be. And so obviously the ad with the higher click through rate gets priority. And then there's a third component, which is the expected value of the ad, meaning it's what happens after the person clicks and goes to your website.

So this is where the Facebook pixel comes into play. Damon it's it knows like what's the conversion rate of your page. It might know that your e-commerce store converse at 3%. And so it's going to actually calculate the value of, of that click. And so those three factors will contribute to whether or not your ads get shown and it contributes to whether or not you're going to get a discount for having a really good performing ad and a really good performing.

Website also going to factor in a quote unquote penalty, if you have a poor performing ad in a poor performing website. So I'd like to say that the level that, that the playing field is leveled for an advertiser that can write really good ads and has a really highly converting landing page. And you can compete with Coca Cola and low.

And target and Amazon and people that are spending, you know, millions of dollars a day, uh, on ads, we can compete with them and have a good cost for action, because we're really good at writing ads. And we're really good at converting people on our way. On the value that gets calculated based on a conversion happening does, is it based more on the conversion rate or the value of the conversion?

The reason why I ask is does that, does it give priority to a higher ticket item? Um, it's overall value. And when, when it's considering value, it's not, it's not considering dollar value. I know that's probably one component of it, but what, what they're actually measuring is that the, that the user or at the individual users.

Satisfied with the process from beginning end Facebook's number one goal is if they have three goals, the first goal is to have a really great user experience. Like if, if Facebook became a really crappy place to be like, they couldn't make any money. So they're always gonna, they're always gonna prioritize their users first.

The second people they prioritize are their investors, right? They're a publicly traded company and they are, they are responsible to make a profit for their shareholders. So that's the second party that they, that they put in the priority list. Um, advertisers are a distant third. Okay. The, the advertiser, they need the advertisers for the revenue, but they're always going to put the priority of their shareholders and their users before us.

Okay. But I'm saying that because when, when a user sees an ad. They enjoy the ad or an interest them and they click to the website and they take a desired action. So whether that's like, just grab an email address, um, or it's complete a purchase, if the users are doing that consistent consistently Facebook sees that as a positive user experience.

Um, it's very similar to maybe what you experienced with Google with SEO is the bounce rate of a page. So if Google is the Texas, right. For their algorithm, if somebody searches for a patient, they land on it and it doesn't give them what they want. And they quickly jump back. That's going to lower the quality score of that page in the algorithm.

Right. So similarly Facebook sees that and goes, wait a minute, people are clicking on the ad and they're not completing the action, which you know, is eventually going to be a purchase or an opt-in or something like that. And what it's going to do is go, it's like, this is not working. So it's going to start to do, it's going to start to charge us more for that ad.

And then eventually it's going to stop actually giving impressions. If people aren't completing the action, it's not going to start. It's not going to give us priority on that ad anymore. And eventually it's going to stop showing. So I got, I want to shift gears a little bit and talk about technology and evolution and you talking about privacy laws.

And so part of what I think comes to that territory is Google recently announced in Chrome, they're going to be getting rid of, um, cookies. So. Impact the potential on Facebook ads or has, has Facebook come out with an alternative to maintain the advertising platform? Yeah, I think 20, 21. And, and going into 2022, it's going to be a big shift for advertisers, uh, Facebook and Google.

Uh, I, I can't talk to Google specifically, but Facebook has, what's called a conversion API, and that is going to be replaced. Excellent.

Um, pixel's not going to go away, but it's gonna, it's going to be there as a fail safe. So people are going to have much more control over their information. I believe. Um, kind of going into 20, 21 and 2022. And so there's going to be old technology where the pixel and cookies will still work. But as people, like you said, if on newer versions of safari and Chrome, There's going to be default settings, which kind of block those things.

So advertisers are going to have to shift and start to use the technology called conversion API to actually plug in directly from their website into Facebook. So. That's just starting to happen now, you know, we're recording this at the end of 2020, but I, I see probably the second quarter of 2021 that becoming a very prominent thing.

And I would think by the time holiday shopping comes around in 2021, we're going to see most advertisers shifting to the API versus the cookies as being the most reliable way to track conversions and, uh, use that for retargeting purposes. Do you have a love, hate relationship with Facebook? Like I do with Google.

Yeah, I do. Um, I, it's interesting. Isn't it like Facebook is what I teach. It's what I write about. It's how my clients make money, but I don't particularly enjoy spending a lot of time there. Um, personally, um, I'll, I'll check it maybe once a day, but I am definitely not one of their top users. But I also, you know, the love hate also comes in terms of some of the funky things that happen.

Uh, this year has been a challenging year. Not because of COVID it's because Facebook's gotten really restrictive. Um, they've had a lot of instances this year where they've shut down ad accounts, rejected ads, um, and it's kind of arbitrary. It's, it's hard to put, put my finger on. So it's, it's created a challenge for me and my clients.

A lot of times where. We're we're we're we're basically trying to prove that we're innocent. Um, it's, it's, it's, it's very opposite of her justice system here in the U S where it's innocent until proven guilty. Working with platform like Facebook and I'm sure Google's the same way, Damon, where you're, you're guilty until proven innocent.

That's very frustrating and it's frustrating a lot of advertisers and quite frankly, it's, it's, it's that up in people's minds. Like if there's something that comes along, that's less restrictive, you're going to start to see money, move away from Google and Facebook to that new media. I'm not sure what it is.

I don't think Tik TOK. I think Tik TOK will be. Uh, a good medium, but I don't see tick-tock in the long-term. Um, So like being so open that it's not going to be restrictive, like the other big ones. Yeah. Yeah. I'd agree. It's and I don't even get into Facebook advertising, but I, I have a lot of, you know, partners and friends in the space and, and you saying arbitrary is totally how I see it, even from my limited exposure, I hear a lot of, a lot of what my friends talk about how their ad accounts get shut down, left and right.

And then I'll immediately see it followed up by an ad. Of like an implied graphic ad of a man holding an eggplant with whipped cream on top of it, talking about his Manliness. And it's like, come on, you know exactly what the ad is talking and that one passes, but then the one that's talking about selling grandma's cookies doesn't well, I had it if I had an interesting conversation with a Facebook engineer, um, a while ago, it's been a couple of years now.

And one of the things he revealed is like, there's, there's, you know, we talk about artificial intelligence now. It's not like the matrix yet, but there, there are algorithms that are running that are, that are monitoring ad content and add images and all those things. And I think part of it is that. I don't think the engineers necessarily know what the program is doing quite frankly, like it's gotten away from them.

So one of the things that they're, they're very sensitive about, and this, this probably comes down from Zurich, which is they're going to be overly aggressive at trying to protect people. All right. And we could have a whole political discussion, like, you know, there, you know, about censorship and things like that.

But Facebook has become very sensitive because they've got the government looking at them and, and they're going to be much more sensitive and way conservative in terms of letting things slip through. So, um, they, they are, they are. Being very protective of their users. And in some cases, overly protective, um, you know, they feel like, you know, there's markets that are just really difficult.

Um, the marketing space, number one, you know, with claims and things like that, very difficult, lot of, a lot of account shut down. Um, finance and, and money is a big deal. Uh, alternative health is a big deal. I know it's a huge deal in Google, um, but there's just certain market segments that, that are.

Impossible to go and get through or to have any sustainable, um, success on. So it becomes a challenge, um, as an advertiser to like, if you're in some of these markets where there's more scrutiny, how to really get yourself seen, because not only does Facebook restrict and Google does. So it was Mo uh, most ad moderation, AI based Marcel than manual review.

Nowadays it is, it is 100%, um, AI ma monitored, and then it's human review on the backend. So when you get an ad that is rejected or an account that has rejected, um, that is a machine doing that first and foremost. And then the re the review process puts you in a queue where you're getting reviewed by. So that's only, if you say, Hey, wait a second.

I want somebody to review this. Yes. Yeah. Machine does the machine, does the shutting down 100% of the time. Um, and that's, that's a function too, of, of Facebook's workers working from home. So, you know, they've got workers all over the globe that are not in offices or in their homes, so they they're relying on the machine to do the monitoring.

It used to be the other way around was the humans would review it before it would go on. But now it's, it's, it's all AI and you'll get shutdowns at any particular time. And then the only way to get your ad reviewed is to click the button request for review for a human to actually get in, get in queue for a human to review it.

Well, you clearly know a lot about Facebook advertising and you had mentioned briefly about you had written a book. How long ago did you write this book? Yeah, it was just published in October of 2020, it's called the ultimate guide to Facebook advertising. It's in its fourth edition. Um, the last edition came out three years ago.

Um, I'm a new author in this series. Uh, the, the previous kind of primary author wrote to two additions before that, but it's, it's really a complete rewrite. Uh, 2017 was the last publication of the, of the manual. So, um, there's about 90% new material. Book because so much has changed. Um, but what, what I really proud of is the, the book is not about the dials and switches as much as it's about strategy.

Um, so, uh, even the previous versions contained a lot of strategies, so the books are still applicable. Um, you know, if you write up, if you write a book about a particular media. Immediately when you give it to the publisher, it's not a date. Um, so we had some of that too, where we, we actually submitted to the publisher six months prior to that.

And we had to go in and make changes because Facebook changed their ad interface. So we wanted to make sure the screenshots were fresh, but yeah. But what we're really proud of is the, you know, the book itself is filled with strategies which are going to be good for 10, 20 years. Um, so I, I, I enjoy talking about Facebook.

Uh, I work on Facebook accounts. I coach people. I have courses, I do training. Um, like I said, um, I'm a coach, so my basketball court is a place, but also the business court is a place I like to help people. Yeah. Well, cool. Congrats on writing the book. I published a book earlier this year as well, so I know what a task it is to come through and do that.

So, um, well, why don't, I'll give you the floor for the last few moments. I appreciate you jumping on Bob. Um, tell our listeners how they can find out more about you. Yeah. Yeah, I have a website set up. I think it's pretty interesting. It's called ultimate So not only does that have a link to it, Amazon where you get the book, but, um, I was fortunate to have some, uh, people that contributed to the book as well.

Uh, people that you would know, like Ryan dice, Jeff Walker, Brian Kurtz Perry. Marshall, of course. Um, so I did some interviews with them. So when you go to ultimate, I've got 10 interviews in there. Um, so a really interesting conversation. Um, and not just kind of the basic stuff that you might hear.

Um, I've known Ryan dice for number of years, Jeff Walker, a number of years. So we talked about things that maybe they normally don't talk about. Um, so, uh, I'd love for people to go there. And, uh, obviously, uh, I'm going to ask for an email address, but I'm not going to abuse the privilege, but, uh, yeah, I've got 10 interviews there plus a link to the book.

Um, I'd really love for people to get the book. Um, as you know, When you write a book, Damon, he kind of put your heart and soul in that thing. And you just want people to read it early reviews are great. We actually sold out the first day had to reorder it at Amazon. So I'm pretty happy with it. And, uh, look forward to getting in people's hands.

Yeah. Good for you. And that was ultimate Yeah. All right. Cool, Bob thanks so much for jumping on learning from others. Awesome. Damon, good to be on.