This is a guest post by James Tromans. James holds a PhD in Computational Neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence from the University of Oxford, has been a founder in four different companies and lectured in behavioural psychology for the Oxbridge Academic Programs.
In short, he knows a lot about both statistics and human behaviour - two of the main pieces of the Facebook advertising puzzle.
In the pursuit of the ultimate Facebook campaign, have you considered anthropomorphizing your adverts? To put it another way, have you considered using human faces in your image based advertising?
It's pretty common to see TV adverts and in-store posters displaying a smile or two. This is an attempt to reach a more personal and deep connection with consumers. In fact, I would say it's almost certain that you already know this.
I would also say that you probably endure the desired effects of the campaign, as prescribed by the advertiser, regardless of your prior knowledge of the intended effect. The reason? You just can't help it, and it is for this reason why you should consider running Facebook adverts with faces in them.
Why do we respond to faces so well?
A conservative estimate would suggest that approximately 25 - 30% of your brain is exclusively reserved for processing visual input. Perhaps more interestingly, there are a number of brain regions that are dedicated to processing just faces (e.g. fusiform face area).
We process faces automatically and so rapidly it can be subconscious. We have evolved this way, since recognising facial expression is crucial to our survival; if you mistook a face of aggression for that of love, you might be in for a nasty surprise.
Experiments on memory have shown that we can store and recall faces orders of magnitude faster than we can store and recall words, such as names or brands.
Given that we only have a few seconds to capture the attention of our intended audience on Facebook, it is prudent to use an approach that will make a lasting impression very quickly.
What type of face should you use?
We recognise familiar faces faster than we recognise unfamiliar faces. To take advantage of this when designing your image based advert campaigns, you should try and use a face that is familiar to as many people in your target audience as possible.
Luckily, this is actually easier than it sounds. If you were to somehow take the average of all the faces you've ever seen, and then view that face, chances are you would develop a sense of recognition.
It might also surprise you to learn that the average of all the faces you have ever seen would be rated as attractive by almost everyone that views it. To use the play on words from the original authors who discovered this fact, ”attractive faces are only average”.
It's well reported that average (and therefore symmetrical) faces are rated as attractive. Try this tool from Face Research to understand what could make a good face for your campaign.
Tips for your face Facebook campaign
Deciding whether gender, race or age could play an important part in the performance of your image based advert is probably common sense. However, you should try a standard A/B split test approach and use suitable statistical methods to discern whether one face performs better than another with regards to driving qualified traffic to your website or Facebook page.
Remember; in the case of your website, be sure to follow the click-through all the way down your funnel. Sometimes an advert can drive a lot of traffic, but that traffic may never become a true conversion. Often better quality traffic at lower volumes is best.
Also, if you are driving traffic through to your website, be sure to have a landing page set-up with the same face and/or person as the one you used in your campaign. This will significantly increase on-site conversion and remind the visitor that they have arrived at the correct place.
If you aren't sure how to use faces in your campaign, a recent study has confirmed that any type of face will do. For example, in one experiment, participants who saw the poster with the sad-looking bin said they were more likely to recycle their food waste than those who saw a poster with an ordinary waste bin.
As with any advert campaign, you should try a lot of different alternatives. If you are to fail, fail fast and fail hard. You want to learn what works for your face campaign as quickly as possible, and you want to end up with a definitive answer separating good from bad.
Connect with James on Twitter: @jmtromans