Advertising on Facebook is almost ubiquitous now. The 500-pound drum-playing gorilla in the room is the channel of choice for mobile app and game marketers, which make up the lion’s share of its revenue
But for small-to-medium businesses (SMBs), Facebook can be a scary place to do business. Not only do you have to understand how to put ads into Facebook’s interface correctly, you also have to figure out how to make those ads attractive and keep them fresh, and you have know what is likely to work in the first place.
Enter ReFUEL Spark, a new artificial intelligence-guided advertising product, designed for the SMB market, that combines A.I. for creative decision-making with ReFUEL4’s existing design network — a talent pool of 10,000 multi-media designers across the globe.
Here’s how it works.
Advertisers select or create a campaign and set the targeting criteria, including gender, age, countries, behaviors, and interests. They can also include notes for the designers to help them better understand the target market. They then choose from a number of ad treatments, and the pool of designers get to work. Each ad mockup allows for direct feedback from the advertiser.
Advertisers set the budget, explain the goal of that particular ad set, provide graphical assets that can be used in the ads, and indicate whether the brief is strict or the designers can have carte blanche.
Then, the system gets to work. It analyzes your current clickthrough rate (CTR), and lets you set a threshold CTR. When the ad stops hitting the threshold CTR, it will be replaced by a new one, ensuring that the Facebook ad stays new, fresh, and exciting. ReFUEL Spark’s A.I. engine — SHAKA — removes uncertainty in the creative process by automatically analyzing the performance of previous ad creative and adjusting it on the fly to maximize results.
And the ad designs themselves are impressive. ReFUEL Spark is built on ReFUEL4’s corporate service, a product that has created ads for the likes of Spotify, Glu Mobile, and PayPal. It was also a recent a winner of Facebook’s Innovation Spotlight Award for creativity.
Automatically changing ads based on performance data and employing an A.I. engine that understands how to keep things fresh is a smart idea, but it could also mean SMBs end up spending money quickly on Facebook ads. What controls do SMBs have over ad budgets within this solution?
“SMBs will have full control over their Facebook ad budgets,” Vernon Vasu, cofounder and CMO at ReFUEL4 told me. “Only they can set the campaign budgets. ReFUEL4 will monitor campaign performance and swap out ad creatives only.”
And how does A.I. come into play with ReFUEL Spark?
“ReFUEL4 will not create the campaigns,” Vasu said. “Rather, it maintains campaign health through creative management. SHAKA will examine the ad account’s campaign history and determine which ad creatives have worked best. It will ask the advertiser if they would like to ‘refuel’ those creatives — in other words, would they like more ads along that creative direction. When our designers submit the new designs, SHAKA conducts a visual composition analysis of each design (using millions of parameters) and recommends which of the new designs will perform well.”
So SHAKA is there to help you pick the designs that are likely to work well based on prior performance.
“By building the briefs to designers, and then recommending the subsequent designs to the advertiser, SHAKA is both strategic planner and creative director, in a traditional creative agency sense,” Vasu said. “So SHAKA performs non-human decision-making, geared toward maximizing the chance of campaign success.”
While advertisers are responsible for their Facebook ad budgets, the service itself — which includes the design pool and the A.I. decision-making engine — is priced based on how many ads you opt to use.
There are three pricing tiers — $99 (for 5 ads), $299 (for 15 ads), and $999 (for 45 ads). How do those ad breaks work? The number of ads in the tier refers to the number of different ad designs a user receives. Advertisers can ask designers for tweaks to the designs, just as with most design solutions. And advertisers can use those ads for as long as they wish.
The lifespan of these ads depends on how aggressively the user campaigns, of course. Larger media budgets mean a higher impression rate, which leads to a faster rate of ad fatigue. This means that bigger companies may run through the course of ads they select quickly, but they can repurchase anytime to get a new set of designs.
ReFUEL Spark offers an impressive combination of professional ad design, Facebook ad placement, and A.I.-supported creative assistance. And while the cost of the third tier is relatively high for many SMBs, it is still cheaper than hiring a creative director.