Data-Driven Tips for Facebook E-Com Advertising (9 Verticals)
Posted on April 10, 2020 (Last Updated: April 21, 2021)
Have you ever wondered what design theme works best for your ads? Whether to use product shots, model shots, or lifestyle shots? What about graphics vs. photos? Discounts, testimonials, or rhetorical copy?
Marpipe tests thousands of ads a week giving us unique insight into what creative elements
work and which don’t. Through a process of automated multivariate testing, we can isolate any
visual or literary variable you can think of, from color to emotion, layout to word.
In this article, you’ll get data-driven answers to your most agonizing questions across 9 verticals
straight from our aggregated anonymized database (i.e. all of our customers ever). If none of
these are your vertical, or your questions, these kernels of truth can suggest tests for you to try
for your own creative in your own industry.
You can also skip to the final section where I’ve analyzed data across all e-comm sectors to
distill a few seemingly universal points.
Without further ado, the basic insights (+ means increased ROI, - means decreased ROI):
- Cosmetics: +Model & Product Shots, +Discounts, +Brand-Focus
- Fashion: +Unique, Sustainable Copy, +Image <55, Video for >55, -Recycled Materials, -Company Values
- Eyewear: +Female Audience, +Customizability Copy, +Models wearing products
- Bath & Shower: Video > Image, +Liquid Design Themes, +Product Kits
- Health & Wellness: +Uncertainty Copy, +Story Copy
- Sleep: +New & Innovative Copy, +Pain Relief Copy, +Eco-Friendly Copy
- Electronics: Graphics > Product Shots > Lifestyle Shots, +Discount Copy, -Pricing Copy
- Packaged Food: +Inside Package Shot, +Benefits Copy, Image > Video
- Beverage: +Pouring Shot, +Sustainable Straws, +‘What’s in it for Me’ Copy
- Cross-Industry: Older audiences: +Health-Related Copy, +Lifestyle Shots; Problem Copy: +Clicks, Product/Benefit Copy: +Purchases, Videos: +Engagement, Images: +Purchases
That’s the thousand foot aerial view. Now we’ll dive a little bit deeper into each industry.
1. Cosmetics Industry
The Cosmetics Industry is one of the largest revenue generators in the world representing over $500 billion in market value. In the US alone, there are over 2500 individual brands spending over $10,000/mo in advertising expenses. We’ve run thousands of ads for cosmetics brands and here are a few recurring findings:
- Model & Product Shots perform prettier than product or model shots alone, as well as
- Copy emphasizing discounts maximizes purchases, even small discounts
- Branding is crucial to conversion rates; sticking to on-brand color palettes makes the
most beautiful difference
Cosmetics are a powerhouse of the attractiveness economy, well accompanied by the next
2. Fashion Industry
Apparel makes up 1.3 to 1.5 trillion dollars in annual market value. Fashion is an identity-driven industry, and as such, advertising is more than an accessory to differentiating brand value and driving conversions. That in mind, the average Fashion SMB spends between $800k and $1.67mm a month on ad spend. Another industry we’ve run a few thousand ads in, we’ve found:
- Image ads outperform video ads for audiences under 55, but over 55, videos work best
- Copy emphasizing Uniqueness or Sustainable Sourcing wears well
- Copy emphasizing Recycled Materials or Company Values actually uglifies results
While fashion ads are no accessory, glasses are an essential accessory to most people today.
3. Eyewear Industry
Eyewear is a $150 billion dollar market. It’s easy to see why; people need glasses to design their best ads, to read, to protect their eyes from UV, computer screens, and dangerous environments. With over 88,000 brands in the US, we’ve got plenty of glasses to choose from.
From a few hundred tests, we’ve learned:
- Female audiences are significantly more likely to see what they like online than are men
- Copy emphasizing customizability turns the most heads
- Models wearing products outperforms products on their own
You can see clearly now the data noise is gone; for clear skin, check out the bath & shower
4. Bath & Shower Industry
Soap sells. Because generally, people like to be clean. Over 3,500 brands make up the $41.5 billion dollars of value in the bath & shower category. Soaps, shampoos, shower gels, massage oils, all the most calming, cleanly products on the market are in this category. Here’s what works:
- Video ads
- Fluid, liquidy design themes
- Product kits, bundles, and package flatlay shots
Short and simple. Keeping clean keeps us healthy. As do products in the next industry.
5. Health & Wellness Industry
Health and wellness is a rapidly growing industry. Though it’s ironically hard to find fresh data, the Global Wellness Institute cites $4.2 trillion in market value as well as growth twice the average economy’s in the same period. This relatively new industry is made up in large part by nutritional supplements. From our hundreds of nutritional ad tests, we know that:
- Copy emphasizing how to deal with uncertainty in health provides high conversion
- Copy that tells a story about you and your health or about an anonymous product user
provides a healthy return on ad spend
Telling bedtime stories will help you if you’re in the next industry too.
6. Sleep Industry
Sleep. Every teenager’s favorite part of the day. The mattress market alone is worth $111 billion. The sleep industry is a notorious in-store salesperson type, but the past decade has found online retailers stealing market share while their larger competitors snooze. Don’t lose sleep, use:
- Copy emphasizing newness and innovation in an otherwise sheepish, traditional market
- Copy emphasizing pain relief from the sheer comfort of your products
- Copy emphasizing eco-friendly materials that form your core products
Sleep is a copy heavy category, but images are just as important as the words on the screen in
the next category.
7. Consumer Electronics Industry
Consumer electronics has likely seen more innovation than any other industry. The range of their ads well reflects that. From over 60,000 brands, $426 billion are generated. Some of our favorite findings come from this vertical, including, but not limited to:
- Graphics outperforming IRL product shots outperforming user lifestyle shots
- Copy emphasizing pricing short circuits success, conducting low conversion rates
- Copy emphasizing discounts energizes ROAS to keep going and going and going up
- And my personal favorite insight: ads with remotes in them turn on and turn up sales,
especially for men.
While kicking back with your remote controlled electronics, there’s nothing better than a few
8. Packaged Food Industry
We’ve made it to the most delicious industry in our e-commerce consortium: packaged foods! The packaged foods market makes up over $3 trillion in value. That includes frozen foods, baked goods, snacks, sauces, and ready to eat meals. That also includes the nearly $1 trillion dollars from ready to drink beverage sales, our next category. We’ll keep it to scrump-diddly-umptious packaged foods here. While six conglomerates famously own 95% of the global distribution, we’ve learned from the 2,500+ smaller brands too. For example:
- Product shots that show the actual edible food outperform package and
- Videos of people eating the food improve chances of having your cake and
eating it too
- Image ads eat more market share than video ads
- Copy emphasizing food features (e.g. Organic, Keto, Vegan, Low Sugar, etc.)
make your audience more likely to choose your chewable goods
Like a good snack associates with a good show, you need a smooth drink to wash it down.
9. Beverage Industry
My personal favorite market, the Beverage Industry provides over $900 billion in value to consumers. To be fair, like some brands in the previous category, they’re not all exclusively online, but that goes with the territory. Winnowing down to RTD beverages brings that massive value down to a more conservative $23 billion. Purely e-commerce brands can beat their in-store competitors with data-driven advertising. Here are some tips to suppress those other 2,275 virtual non-alcoholic bartenders:
- Images of your product smoothly pouring into a classic glass will satisfy your thirsty
- Images of your product in a sustainable glass with a sustainable straw sustain your sales
- Copy emphasizing your audience’s answers to ‘what’s in it for me’ e.g. health claims
And that’s the last straw for industry-specific data. Now it’s onto the final act.
10. Cross-Industry Insights
Those 9 industries constitute a large part of the global e-commerce market. In fact, in total,
those 9 industries make up about $9.9 trillion of market value. Across this vast e-commerce
universe, there are some data that we find over and over again. Below are a few of these fun,
- Copy emphasizing health is more effective on older audiences
- Lifestyle shots are more effective on older audiences
- Copy emphasizing a problem your audience has maximizes clicks and engagement
- Copy emphasizing how your product solves a problem or how your audience benefits
from your product maximizes purchases
- As has been increasingly found by others, videos tend to get more engagement than
images, while images often get more purchases
Now, these aren’t hard rules. In fact, nothing in this article should be taken as an absolute. They
are all findings from aggregate data across our clients component-analyzed ads. There are
thousands, if not millions of brands not included in this analysis.
You should however take this article as a list of evidence-based, data-driven recommendations
to try out yourself in your own creative tests. Should you find your data matches what’s here,
you’re in good company.
Should you find results contrary to our findings, you might have a
special product, appealing to a unique audience on your hands. Use your data wisely.
Brett G. Friedman is Director, Marketing & Sales at Marpipe, home of world’s first automated
creative testing platform. He’s run thousands of tests, analyzed millions of data points, and sat
in just one chair the whole time. You can best ask him questions about testing, tea, or books on