Video Marketing Lab by
Handbook Experiment

Facebook Boost vs. Ads Manager: Which performs better and costs the least?

Boosting your Facebook posts is a quick and easy way to get more reach. But is it more expensive than using the Facebook Ads Manager in terms of performance? In this experiment, we find out.

Our theory

We boosted posts for a long time and thought we were getting the same results as if we’d used Ads Manager. Then Ken joined the team.

Ken came with a lot of Facebook marketing experience for big brands. In his experience, Ads Manager always outperformed boosted posts. What? We needed to know more.

Ken explained his theory: Ads Manager lets you choose your audience, objective, and placement. Boosting lets you choose, well, nothing. Except the duration of your spend. More control always means better results when it comes to Facebook.

Was Ken right? To find out we had to spend some money.

The test: boosting vs Ads Manager

We designed a simple experiment to test Ken’s theory. We created a video and ran it twice. Once as a boosted post and once as an Ads Manager campaign with the objective of video views. We chose video views because it’s the most similar counterpart to boosting in Ads Manager. We put the princely sum of $75 behind each post and let them loose.

The video

This video starred in both the boosted post and the Ads Manager post.

You can edit the template we used to make this video at biteable.com.

What we found

So how’d it go?

The boosted post cost less

Per 1,000 views, the boosted post only cost $2.63 compared to the Ads Manager post, which cost $7.72. So the Ads Manager post cost 193% more, but thankfully for Ken, it’s not a real indicator of success.

Sure, the boosted post may have been significantly cheaper, but how did it deliver in terms of ROI?

Ads Manager got more clicks (for less money)

In terms of results, the Ads Manager post dominated the boosted post. The Ads Manager post got 76 clicks, whereas the boosted post only got 23. That’s 230% more clicks for the Ads Manager post.

This meant the cost per click also came out much lower. Each click cost $1.04 for the ad. The boosted post cost $3.09. That’s $197% more expensive per click, negating the lower cost of the boost.

Ads were watched for longer

The ‘watch’ metrics for the Ads Manager post were better too. It scored almost twice as many 3-second views (9166 vs. 5158), a higher percentage of the video was watched (85% vs. 64%), the average watch time was longer (5 seconds vs. 2 seconds), and, most importantly, almost twice as many people watched the Ads Manager post through to completion (7097 compared to 3647).

Engagement, reactions, and shares

In terms of engagement, the ad stomped the boosted post with almost twice as many interactions – 9242 vs. 5223.

What might surprise you, though, was that the boosted post did far better in terms of reactions – 41 vs. 0. It also got one share, whereas the ad had none.

This is probably due to how boosted posts are treated more like organic content by users, while ad content is treated more like, well, an ad. And who shares ads?

Analysis

Boosts look for a certain kind of person

As these results illustrate, Ads Manager will help you achieve more with the same video content.

Boosted posts appear to default toward finding people who’ll react to and share your content. Unfortunately, these people are less likely to buy.

Recommendations

Use Ads Manager to make sales

When you use Facebook Ads Manager you can choose who sees your ad and, even more importantly, you can choose your objective. This gives you a lot more power to find people who are likely to click, buy, or watch. This will generally be of far more use to you than reactions and shares.

Use Ads Manager for better long-term results

Another big advantage with Ads Manager is that you can constantly A/B test your audiences and videos to learn what works best.

With boosts, you have limited ability to learn and improve, which means you have to rebuild the wheel with every post.

Boost for social proof

The feature that counts most against boosting is also its redeeming feature: the way it finds people likely to react and share.

Use this to your advantage when you want to get social proof on a post. For best results, boost your post first to get lots of reactions and shares, then flip it into Ads Manager and send it out to a new audience. This is a great way to improve the performance of nearly any post. Here’s how to do it.

Takeaways

Boost sparsely. Boosting is seldom useful. Only use it when you’re time poor or need social proof.

Achieve more with Ads Manager. Get control and performance by stepping up to Facebook Ads Manager. You can choose not only who sees your ad, but also what you want it to achieve.