How Harvard University Grows With Facebook Video Carousel Ads

AdWeek reported that Facebook was adding video creative to its Carousel Ads, to bring its most effective ad formats together. On it’s Facebook Marketing Partners page, the dominant digital video platform expressed that this union would give “advertisers the creative flexibility to leverage the most engaging and powerful format we have in feed. Carousel format is growing at a rapid pace and adding video as a creative option can bring sight, sound, and motion to help advertisers improve both their Brand and DR objectives.” Advertisers like Harvard University, which decided to run Facebook Video Carousel Ads to promote its e-learning offerings, such as Negotiation Mastery with Chris Voss and Disruptive Strategy with Clayton Christensen.

With thought leaders featured throughout a series of four videos in a Facebook Carousel Ad, Harvard put substantial ad dollars into a global campaign that targeted managers and executives worldwide. Harvard touts that they have just the right program for those who are “ready to move [their] career[s] forward.” Broadly speaking, Harvard’s digital strategy makes sense, giving them global reach to the right audience. And the tactical decision to use Facebook Video Carousel Ads was surely informed by expert insight and a tremendous amount of data supporting the move.

Harvard Chooses Facebook Video Carousel Ads

The data that could have informed Harvard’s decision to choose Facebook Video Carousel Ads includes a wide array of success stories, with great metrics demonstrating solid return on investment.
foodpanda Facebook Carousel Ad
According to Facebook, foodpanda increased click-through rates by 180% and reduced their cost per install by 39%.
Neiman Marcus Facebook Carousel Ad
Meanwhile, Neiman Marcus used the carousel format showcase beautiful imagery from a new seasonal collection to drive 3x more conversions and 85% better click-through rates. Overall, Carousel Ads have performed favorably against single-image advertisements with a website click objective.
Screen Shot 2017-02-02 at 12.34.52 PM
But it goes far beyond a handful of success stories. Facebook reports 30 to 50% lower Cost per Conversion and 20 to 30% lower Cost per Click with Carousel Ads. Meanwhile, Shakr’s data on the performance of Facebook video ads is compelling: 7.9x CTR growth and a 4.5x improvement in Cost per Install. These figures support the broad trends in the rise of Facebook video ad spending, as reported by Nanigans. “Marketers continue to invest more in video ads on Facebook — especially on mobile — to achieve their direct response performance objectives.” Quarterly share of mobile ad spend allocated to video grew by 26% in North America, and a stunning 46% in Asia Pacific.


Room for Improvement

While Harvard’s strategy and broader tactics were sound, better execution could drive substantially better results. For example, the video assets used were in the wrong aspect ratio. Being married to the 16:9 ratio is a remnant of an era in digital video marketing that ignored the realities of mobile. Certainly, the 16:9 ratio assets that Harvard produced for HBX were of good production value — they’d likely serve as excellent standalone video ad campaigns. But used as creative assets in a Facebook Video Carousel Ad, which are designed for square (1:1) assets, substantial letterboxing (the vertical padding above and beneath the video) degrades the overall production quality of the advertisement. This type of production flaw leads to decreased confidence in the brand running the campaign. Perhaps Harvard has the brand capital to spare, but for SMB advertisers this letterboxing faux-pas can lead to substantial lost opportunities. Admittedly, Harvard is far from the only brand to make this mistake – Shakr has done it in the past, and letterboxed advertisements are unfortunately quite common.

Another area for improvement could be the use of regional targeting with customized creative assets mixed into the Carousel slots alongside the global creative assets. The modular nature of the Facebook Video Carousel Ad format allows for substantial flexibility. It’s understandable that Harvard wanted to control creative costs as they relate to total campaign spending, but in the post-TV digital video advertising era, having creative assets that are segmented by region and funnel progression is a part of the basic digital marketer’s toolkit. If Harvard remains concerned about constraining the cost of producing creative assets, Shakr might be a good fit for using its existing high production value footage in Shakr’s industry-leading quantity and quality of video ad templates — including square video ad templates.

1 comments On How Harvard University Grows With Facebook Video Carousel Ads

  • Facebook is once again dominating the market–now with video content. I read somewhere that more video is now being uploaded to Facebook than YouTube. I’ll have to double check that source, but wow! Great stuff!

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