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Lego Phil Babb

Do Facebook retargeting ads really work?

Lego Phil Babb

Do Facebook retargeting ads really work?

One of the things I really love about Facebook Ads is the retargeting feature using the Facebook Pixel. Before I talk about how effective that is, and how much ROI (return on investment) you can make with that, let’s briefly explain what it is.

Using the Facebook Pixel, which you can set up in your Business Manager account, you’re able to track anyone who visits your website, or any pages online you’re in control of (such as micro sites, funnel pages etc.) and store them in a Facebook audience. The Facebook Pixel works in much the same way as Google Analytics. It’s a small piece of code you copy and paste into the code on your website. As people visit your website, whether or not they actually came from Facebook, they are tracked by Facebook so long as they are currently logged in to their profile.

It also works cross-device, so if someone looks at your website on their smartphone (and so long as they are logged into Facebook on their phone) they will be tracked by Facebook. They are then in your ‘audience’ regardless of the device they subsequently use, so long as they are logged in to Facebook.

It all sounds a bit ‘Big Brother’, but there’s no need to panic as the person cannot be identified. You are not given details of who they are. You don’t know their name, their email address, their phone number or anything that can identify them. They’re just in your audience.

Then, using ads, you’re able to retarget that person based on their actions on your website. For example, you could show an ad for a particular product to anyone who has looked at that product’s page but hasn’t purchased it.

You’ve probably seen ads like this yourself after looking at websites such as Amazon, eBay or high street retailers, but how effective is this? Does it really work? Also, if someone does end up buying a product when they’ve seen a Facebook ad, should Facebook really be credited with the sale when the customer has already seen your website, and looked at that particular product?

Let’s look at two examples.

First off, Lego. I’m an avid collector of Lego. I’ve shopped on the Lego website many times, and I even have a Lego VIP card which allows me to get early access to Lego sets before they go on general sale. It’s safe to say I’m a Lego customer, and I’m a decent value to them as a customer.

So why would they target me with Facebook Ads? Why spend the money on ads if I’m already a customer?

They do it because it works, and it has influenced buying decisions. I received a Lego email some weeks ago about a new Star Wars Lego set coming out, the ship from the Disney+ series The Mandalorian. I clicked on the email and looked at the Lego set, but I didn’t buy. I wasn’t sure if I wanted it.


By looking at it, the Facebook Pixel tracked me and added me to the retargeting audience for that product. Lego knew I was interested, but I hadn’t made the decision to buy. They wanted my sale.

For the next week or so I saw ads from Lego for this set. Then, one evening, after seeing an ad, I clicked through and decided I was having it. I purchased. Facebook recorded the sale for Lego and the advert registered a £120 conversion.

Still, I had already seen the set. I was already a Lego customer, so should Facebook get the credit?

Without the Facebook ad I may have remembered about the set and bought it, I may not. I probably wouldn’t have, to be honest, since I am running out of room for Lego and I have to be selective. Therefore, an ad one night as I was browsing Facebook, reminding me I was interested, led to the sale. It was Facebook’s sale for sure.

So, that’s a relatively small purchase value. Does Facebook work for larger sales? Oh, yes!

A few years ago, Liverpool FC redeveloped their Main Stand at Anfield, and began preselling hospitality season tickets through the website. As a lifelong fan, and someone who was nowhere near the front of the decades-long standard season ticket waiting list, this was realistically my only chance to get tickets.

As an existing fan, and someone on the club’s newsletter, I received the email about securing season tickets. I clicked through to the website and requested a brochure, which came through instantly with the prices for the Carlsberg Dugout Lounge.


Prices started in the £3,000+ mark, plus VAT, per seat per season. That’s a lot of money. What’s worse, they were a minimum of two seats, for a minimum of three years.

No way was I spending that on something that wasn’t tangible. I closed down the PDF and put it out of my mind, after publicly announcing to the whole office how expensive it was.

However, I was now in their Facebook Audience. I had clicked on the link and I had requested a brochure. I was an interested person. I was retargeted for the next few weeks with ads for the hospitality season tickets. The ads showed the concept art for the lounges, the views from the seats, listed everything that was included and even mentioned the scarcity of the tickets. That was the key… they were selling fast.

Then, one day, after a particularly exciting European match, I saw the ad again. I clicked on it and filled in a contact form for a call. This is where I was given a preliminary seat, which I had to confirm and pay within 24hrs in order to secure.

That Facebook ad was responsible for Liverpool FC selling two hospitality season tickets for the next seven years – and countless upsells of merchandise in the lounge over the seasons.

Liverpool Football Club Hospitality 011

Despite me being a fan already, and despite me having already registered my interest, without Facebook Ads I would not have been converted into a season ticket holder.

Facebook Retargeting is a hugely powerful advertising tactic that works tirelessly to secure the sales you’ve kindled, but haven’t fully converted. If you’d like to know more about Facebook Advertising, how it works, how we can set it up for you and how you can increase your sales with it, then send us a message today. The sooner it’s set up, the sooner you’ll start benefiting.

Darren Jamieson

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