Written by Kris Sugatan
CEO & Founder
July 21, 2022
How to Master Facebook & TikTok Ad Buying in 2022 (Even as a Beginner)
At Sugatan, we have always been focused on ROI Positive Scaling, leveraging social media and ad tech innovations as the primary ways to achieve eCommerce scale.
Our ad buyers play a major role in achieving this.
Sugatan’s ad buyers aren’t just any old ad buyers – they’re innovators on the leading edge of what’s working, and we see them as co-strategists and business partners instead of keyboard monkeys.
They’ve come to master ad buying because they’re not afraid to take chances, try new approaches, or fail in their experiments; always learning from failures to bring new solutions to the table.
We’re fortunate to work on super-exciting accounts where we position ourselves as partners and synergistic collaborators – a real catalyst to push to the next level and deliver high volume at a fast rate.
We’re constantly innovating and when hiring, we make sure to carefully select A-players who are curious and experimental by nature i.e. true innovators.
Only 1 out of 5 hires will make it past our probationary period, which is part of the reason we are limited in the number of accounts we can work on.
If you’re an eCommerce Founder or you’re managing ad buyers, it’s really important that you at least understand and try to gauge how much they’re really innovating and trying new things.
Because that is what it’s going to take to scale in this new landscape.
And if your approach is to just wait for a creative to go viral, that is the wrong approach because it has to be a perfect marriage between your ad buying methodologies and your creative innovation simultaneously.
What sets our ad buyers apart is they look at the bigger picture: adopting innovative strategies to balance quality of traffic and quality of attention, plus the cost of advertising.
This is something nobody is really talking about and that I’ll divulge further in this article.
If you prefer to learn this material by watching/listening to a video, click here.
Innovating Quality of Traffic & Cost of Advertising
I can’t stress the importance of innovation enough, especially in the eCommerce and ad buying realm.
And it’s not really about new “scaling hacks.”
It’s about constant experimentation inside areas of ad buying, data analysis, and acquisition channels that you wouldn’t usually think to look into.
This section will give you a glimpse into what principles guide our pursuit of mastering Facebook and TikTok ad buying inside Sugatan.
Minimize Risk & Maximize Innovation
Above all, we are risk-averse.
One way in which we try to minimize risk is to predict the market’s buying intent.
Because we have access to and have audited hundreds of Shopify stores, we see similarities in monthly revenue fluctuations.
And that led us to pose the question, “Can we predict the general market’s buying intent as we set revenue projections for the upcoming Quarter?”
And if so, could we utilize the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to gauge how the oncoming recession will impact these revenue trends?
It might be a bold thesis, but we have to investigate whether there is a correlation.
Inside the multiple accounts we’re currently scaling, we advertise to both men and women in the United States (the toughest yet most lucrative region to capture market share).
We found that they still have the same correlation in terms of revenue increasing or decreasing month over month, leaving me wondering whether the variable factor is the algorithm or the market’s buying intent.
Ultimately, I think it’s a marriage of both. You can’t really isolate between one or the other, but it’s an important and interesting part of the journey to continue asking these questions.
Another big part of being risk-averse is understanding what it’s going to cost you to advertise on a platform, and then what the predicted return will be.
To do this, we have to measure the quality of traffic versus the cost on the platforms like Facebook and TikTok.
More on that a little later on. But first, let’s talk about the quality of attention.
Before you even assess the cost of advertising on a platform, you should know whether that’s where your audience will be and where exactly they spend most of their time on the platform.
For example, is attention shifting from Instagram Stories to Reels? We dive into this in the next section.
Where’s the Attention At?
Pay close attention to how people shift their attention on different platforms and different placements within those platforms.
But Kris, how will I know when this shift is happening?
Easy, just look at your own habits on social media. And if you’re not an avid social media user, then look at your husband or wife’s behavior.
Another thing I like to do is to be in a crowded place where people are doing nothing, like in the subway or waiting for the metro. Peek at what everyone is scrolling on their devices.
Do you notice the pattern that most people are spending a disproportionate amount of time scrolling through the feed or mostly looking at Stories? Chances are when your own behavior shifts, the rest of the world is right there with you.
Before I give you an example of how we innovated based on where attention is shifting, I want to stress the importance of earning attention on social media.
Just because you post something where all the eyeballs are, this doesn’t guarantee a great conversion rate or ROI.
You need to make it worth the user’s while to consume your content.
This can be with a killer hook that addresses a pain point or tugs at the viewer’s heartstrings within the first second of your video ad; with a really funny story that they simply have to share; or even with a controversial angle that will get negative comments.
Negative attention is good attention too! Take Alexander McQueen as inspiration.
He and his brand became world-renowned after staging highly controversial runway shows that gained a lot of negative press, and the brand is now an infamous fashion house associated with high-end garments and luxurious style.
REELS CASE STUDY
Back in August 2021, Matas and a couple of our other strategists realized they were spending most of their time looking at Reels on Instagram instead of Stories or feed posts.
So, we decided to implement this shift in attention into our ad buying strategy, allocating 80% of our total Facebook spend to Reels.
We had very little competition actively pursuing Reels at that time because everyone was so focused on Facebook that our CPMs were very low.
Usually, our CPMs were around $35 to $40, but with this Reels campaign we were getting $10 to $15 CPMs, and the account level Link CTR was 1% to 1.2%.
In just 3 months, we scaled an Instagram and Facebook Reels campaign into the number 1 campaign (filtered by spend) for one of our accounts with around $20MM+ lifetime spend.
And that’s the beauty of it all. When you find the quality of traffic and the quality of attention, which is based on CPM and high link CTR, you start out-scaling your competitors with simple innovation and a little experimentation.
This also proves why it is crucial that ad buyers, content creators, and social media marketers must be regular USERS of social media.
And if you’re in the camp of hating social media, you need to start embracing it.
Yes, that means downloading and using TikTok often.
Audience Quality on Facebook Vs. TikTok
We are anxiously awaiting the day when TikTok’s ads manager algorithm matures.
Right now, we’re looking at the quality of the audience on Facebook vs TikTok, balanced by CPMs, with the goal of one day finding that sweet spot where the TikTok algorithm will be able to give us the same quality of traffic that Facebook does.
Facebook’s traffic quality has, surprisingly and thankfully, remained the same after the iOS release. It’s only the costs that have increased.
Whereas TikTok’s costs are still low in comparison, it’s a little bit of a “give and take” situation when comparing the two platforms for traffic quality at this point.
Below, you can see what we’ve found when looking at Facebook’s cost of advertising versus the quality of traffic.
And this is what TikTok’s graph looks like.
Quality Vs. Quantity of Traffic
Inside Sugatan, we utilize low-cost, low-quality traffic versus high-cost, high-quality traffic as levers to scale.
We need to figure out which one is the more scalable approach:
Cheap Costs per Clicks (CPCs) over low Conversion Rate (CR) or expensive CPCs over high CR
It’s always either going to be quality over quantity, meaning you’re attracting expensive traffic that also converts on high conversion rates.
Or vice versa; cheap traffic that converts on low conversion rates.
Some people think it’s not important to test both routes, but we believe it’s absolutely worth testing them to see whether you’ll get your target ratio between different metrics that you need to analyze.
Get Your Data-tracking on Point
This is where attribution innovation comes in.
Our team has shifted away from reading number values, to reading ratios and percentage correlations on different levels (i.e ratios between different metrics like CPC vs CR or ratios between Total ROAS & Channel ROAS KPIs).
Matas wrote an article about benchmarking where he explains why ratios are more important than numerical/dollar values.
You can read it here or watch him explain it on YouTube here.
I think it’s common knowledge that accurate attribution is a pretty impossible task, or at least it’s a long black hole.
And so how we’ve innovated in tracking the impact of our initiatives without getting stuck on the actual value of that initiative is by creating a stable data environment where we can see a reliable data stream that we can then use to measure the impact of your initiatives.
The Importance Of Cross-Channel Budget Distribution
I’ve mentioned that we’re always looking to minimize risk inside Sugatan, and this is yet another way in which we manage to do so.
Cross-channel budget distribution and diversification reduce risks and enable further scaling for our ad accounts.
It was the hottest topic in Q4 last year when everyone started realizing that we can’t be so dependent on Facebook anymore.
Many of the small to medium (under $1MM monthly revenue) eComm businesses were stuck in a budget proportion where 95% to 99% of the total marketing spend went towards Facebook and 5 to 10% went to Google.
But now, we’re all aware that that’s a big risk and we need to diversify to reduce that risk.
Inside Sugatan, our target budget allocation between the main acquisition channels is as follows:
- 60% Facebook
- 20-30% TikTok
- 10-20% Google
Why You Haven’t Mastered Facebook And TikTok Ad Buying Yet
Maybe you don’t have the right mindset… yet. Or maybe you’re working on a shitty account.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t become an expert ad buyer.
Given the right guidance and then the autonomy to innovate and self-manage, you will master ad buying on Facebook and TikTok, I guarantee it.
It All Starts With Your Mindset
The most important thing, beyond any hack and beyond the strategy, is that you need to innovate in your own unique account with your unique data and your unique patterns.
Sure, reading our articles and watching our videos to gain insight are great ways to explore new methods and expand your own thinking.
But at the end of the day, if you really want to master Facebook and TikTok ad buying, you need to accept that the biggest hack is your mindset.
If you stay curious, experiment often, and are driven by a real passion for your craft and a hunger to improve, you’ve got the makings of an unstoppable ad buyer.
Why Ad Buyers Leave their Jobs or Don’t Progress
After having sifted through hundreds of applicants and working with many ad buyers, I fully understand the reasons why an ad buyer would want to leave their current agency or current eCommerce brand.
- They’ve reached a ceiling in ad spend because they’re not being mentored/trained properly, or the accounts are all small.
- The accounts that they work on suck.
- They don’t have a lot of autonomy or access to information to be able to make more autonomous, authoritative decisions.
- The culture inside their agency is not good.
- The managers that they’re working with are not good.
If the list above describes your current situation, there might be an opportunity that’s a perfect fit for you inside Sugatan.
The Type of Person You Need to Be to Master Ad Buying at Sugatan
We’re always on the lookout for talented ad buyers to join our team, but I’ll be brutally honest with you; our bar is set very high.
Our ideal ad buyer’s motivation is:
- To be one of the best ad buyers out there.
- To work on interesting and challenging accounts.
- To build clout within Sugatan and to co-strategize with other strategists.
- To build up businesses just to see if you actually can.
- To move up because you’re trying to prove something either to yourself or to the world.
- To be really interested in the formula for scaling.
- To be interested in having a professional career in ad buying.
Non-negotiable skills and attributes our ad buyers must have:
- Intelligence and the ability to learn quickly/grasp the complex concepts of ad buying
- Care about the fact that they’re spending real money
- Moldable & malleable
- You must use Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok every day, multiple times a day
- And eventually, you need to be able to handle innovating when creatives are dying and your job is to maximize the revenue out of every creative produced
What It’s Like To Be An Ad Buyer At Sugatan
As a new ad buyer at Sugatan, you’ll be mentored by someone young, yet driven, and ambitious.
Our current Chief Growth Officer, Matas, is one of the best and has traveled all over the world with me through pursuing his mastery of the craft.
Here is a short clip where you can see some of his adventures.
We want people who are committed to the direction we’re heading in; building and exiting eCommerce businesses and being a part of a growing multi-trillion dollar, globally expanding industry… despite the projected oncoming recession.
There are really exciting career paths that stem from starting as an ad buyer at Sugatan.
These are skills that will stay with you for life and that will propel you into a personal and career growth trajectory with limitless opportunities.
Listen to this podcast episode where I interviewed Matas and Eimantas (a former ad buyer at Sugatan) to find out how their careers first started, what it takes to become a pro ad buyer, and how Sugatan paved the way for them.
Join Our Team to Master Facebook And TikTok Ad Buying
If you join our team, you will become the best ad buyer you can be, and as a bonus, the word “boring” will forever disappear from your work-life vocabulary.
You’ll be part of an inspiring and career/personal-growth-driven culture where you’ll actually love to show up for work every day.
We are hiring junior and senior ad buyers!
If you want to become part of our world-class team of Performance Advertising Engineers, click here to apply.