Facebook Blueprint: Everything You Need (And Don’t Need) To Know
We’ve talked a lot about Facebook lately - the Cambridge Analytica scandal, up-and-coming digital ad platforms that serve as an alternative to FB ads...Facebook Advertising is on our minds at Bonsai Media Group, and thanks to recent news, it’s on the mind of lots of people who may have never considered the effectiveness of Facebook’s advertising platform. Now, it’s no secret that Facebook is just about the most effective means of digital advertising available. In fact, just about a year ago, it was reported that Facebook's Ad Revenue for q2 2017 amounted to 9.16 billion. Clearly, lots of people are using it, and that can be attributed to two things:
Not only does it work, it works incredibly well. In 2017 it was reported that average CPC’s for Facebook, across all industries, was $1.72 and the average CPA was $18.68 - low compared to AdWords with an average CPA of $59.18.
2) The Self-Serve Style of the Platform is Appealing to those with low budgets
The self-serve nature of Facebook’s advertising platform was already recognized as a differentiator when they launched ads back in 2009. Yes, AdWords was the first to prove the viability of self-serve platforms, but it’s Facebook’s ‘easy to use’ interface that really kicked open the door for self-serve advertising.
The only problem
Yes, Facebook Advertising works and is quite cost-effective, and yes, just about anyone can create an account and start serving ads today. The problem is that, because of the accessibility, it’s WAY TOO EASY to waste a lot of ad spend if you don’t know what you’re doing. You don’t necessarily need to hire a hire a marketing agency (though it will save you a lot of time and headaches ;] ) to ensure your ads are running properly, but you will need to study.
Enter Facebook Blueprint
Here’s Everything You Need to Know
If you’ve gone down the rabbit hole of considering Facebook Advertising, you’ve probably looked for a way to learn more yourself, or for a way to verify the skills of your marketing squad, with which you’re entrusting your precious ad budget. Here’s where the Facebook Blueprint Certification comes in.
Facebook’s Blueprint Certification is an online curriculum and certification program through which one can gain the advanced skills needed to be a successful Facebook Advertiser. It provides a rundown of Facebook’s entire advertising tool-kit, covering everything from managing pages, to running ads, to effectively utilizing Facebook’s extensive ad network, to measuring and optimizing campaigns, and maintianing data security for both you and your clients.
Bonsai’s Own Facebook Certified Buying Professional Weighs In
Is the Facebook Blueprint Certification worth it? Having just completed the Facebook Buying Professional certification program, all I can tell you is that....it depends. Without a doubt, there is a ton of incredible information, pertaining to Social Media marketing in general, available in the course material, which is free! The catch is that you need to pass two exams to achieve the certification, each of which cost $150, The Core Competencies Exam and either the Planning or Buying Professional certification. Here’s the kicker - if you fail, you have to to pay for another exam.
Facebook takes the test pretty seriously, offering it only at certified testing centers, or via a remote portal application. If you choose to test remotely, you need a microphone and webcam-enabled computer as proctors will monitor you throughout the test.
First, Start with Core Competencies Exam
The Core Competencies Exam tests one’s general knowledge of the Facebook platform, both Pages and Ad Accounts. Yes, it’s the first exam, but it’s no walk in the park; truth be told I didn’t pass it the first time I took it ($150 down the drain!) It’s much more technical in nature than the 2nd test, so lots of memorization is required. You’ve got to study - there’s just no getting around it.
The Core Competencies exam is important because it covers a lot of the crucial technical info that you should know if you're working with clients. Data-security on Facebook is a hot topic in general at the moment, and while I was studying numerous courses were updated to include details as to how exactly Facebook organizes and protects data. If you're interested in the subject, look up Facebook's data hashing procedures.
On top of that, there are two secondary exams, each of which are geared towards different specialties.
Buying Vs Planning….and why I chose Buying
The simplest difference between the two can be distilled to small vs large scale campaigns. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. First, let’s be clear: there’s a lot of overlap between the buying and planning certifications. Take a look at the study course material for both, and you’ll notice that many of the same courses are featured in both learning paths. The one you choose really depends on what you need out of the platform. If you search online, a lot of people will claim that the planning certification is harder. While I can’t claim to know first hand, I can tell you that the buying certification was plenty difficult, and from what I’ve read and studied in during my test prep, I imagine planning to be right at the same level. The difference in perceived difficulty, though, really comes down to experience. See what I mean below:
The Planning Professional
According to Facebook, the Planning Professional certification is “awarded to digital advertising professionals who are proficient in planning successful Facebook advertising campaigns. You'll need to demonstrate advanced-level competency in the following areas:
- Managing Facebook Pages
- Selecting and using Facebook advertising objectives
- Targeting audiences for maximum impact
- Utilizing Audience Insights
- Optimizing reach and frequency
- Implementing planning strategy and best practices
- Understanding Facebook’s measurement solutions
- Thoroughly understanding how Facebook products can be used in advertising and communication strategies.”
This certification tests many of the same skills and concepts as the buying certification but on a much larger scale. If you’re more interested in generating brand awareness, utilizing Facebook Ads in conjunction or in sequence with other forms of advertising (like TV), or you manage many different campaigns with different start and end dates, this is the certification you should pursue
The Buying Professional
The Buying Professional Certification “is awarded to digital advertising professionals who are proficient in creating and buying Facebook advertising for maximum campaign impact. You'll need to demonstrate advanced-level competency in the following areas:
- Managing Facebook Pages
- Selecting and using Facebook advertising objectives
- Managing, creating and purchasing Facebook ads
- Targeting audiences for maximum impact
- Improving performance and delivery via the ad auction
- Meeting and reporting ad KPIs
- Understanding and testing the Facebook Pixel and SDK
- Leveraging consumer insights and the product catalog
- Troubleshooting ad issues”
This certification is more aimed at testing the skills and knowledge that self-serve users or those of us in the digital agency world might need to successfully run, manage, and optimize campaigns. If you or your clients have VERY SPECIFIC goals with your Facebook Ads and you, or your clients, have less than 10k/month spend, this is the certification for you.
This certification tests many of the same skills and concepts as the buying certification but on a much larger scale. If you’re more interested in generating brand awareness, utilizing Facebook Ads in conjunction or in sequence with other forms of advertising (like TV), or you manage tons of campaigns with different start and end dates, this is the certification you should pursue.
Why Experience Matters
The reason that a lot of people think the Buying exam is easier is that the majority of experience that we digital advertisers have with Facebook Ads falls into this arena - Buying and managing ads at a particular level with a variety of goals. Then again, if you’re a national brand, and you’re used to TRP media buying across a variety of channels, the Planning Exam is likely to be in your wheelhouse.
Facebook Blueprint recommends that you study for six months with a recommended minimum of six months experience using Ads Manager. I’ve now been managing Facebook ads for two years, and I studied for four months and failed my first exam. Take it from me - you need experience in Ads Manager AND you need to study to pass this exam without shelling out a lot of cash.
Study Study Study
*image from Facebook Blueprint
Think you’re a Facebook Ad Guru? The ultimate test taker that never needs to study? I got sour news for ya, Jack. Unless you’re the ZUCK himself, there’s no way you’re going to pass without studying. The good news is that the course curriculum for the Facebook Blueprint certification is truly next-level impressive.
First, make a profile, at https://www.facebook.com/blueprint/
You can immediately start courses, each of which is broken down into an important category, so you can focus your learning.
*image taken from Facebook Blueprint
PLUS, they have dedicated learning paths for all three exams, the Core Competencies, the Buying, and Planning certifications.
Here’s What You Don’t Need
1): You don’t need to go through 100% of the E-learning courses to pass the exam.
I attempted to 100% all of the course material before taking my first test. Not only did I not get through all of it, I failed the first exam. Do yourself a favor and just follow the learning paths for each exam, focus your studies on just those e-learning courses and their respective resource materials, take the test, and move on to the next exam. Furthermore, a lot of the information contained within the Blueprint materials pertains to data-security o
2) Not all of the Skills or Concepts on the test are crucial to your Success
Is it really important for your day to day activities if you know exactly where to find a specific metric, or you memorize the ideal image dimensions for a specific ad format? The likely answer is NO. That’s not to say that you won’t need that knowledge to PASS the exam, because you will. But, if I’m being honest, a good 30-35% of the questions on each exam were typical multiple choice information memorization specifically designed to make the test more difficult and in the reality of day to day work, any of this information is a google search away, or easily found in Facebook’s resources, which brings me to my final point.
3) You Don’t Need to Get Certified to Kill it on Facebook
This pains me to write this but, depending on your goals and your job, you really don’t need the Certification to run successful Facebook ads. You do need experience and you do need to study or learn about the platform, but the Certification itself is fit for people like myself who are in the business of digital advertising, not for those that are looking to run their own campaigns. Plus, all of Facebook’s course material is built around typical digital advertising verbiage and goals, which makes it incredibly simple to connect the dots between Facebook’s capabilities and your business goals.
Like I mentioned earlier, all of Facebook’s E-learning Curriculum for the Blueprint exam is totally free - so, anytime you need to find out anything, just go there.
What if you want Pro-Level Facebook Ad Management without the Certification?
That’s where Bonsai comes in. If you’re looking for professional level Facebook Ad Management, involving everything from targeting, creative, measurement, and optimization, Bonsai is uniquely qualified to take the reigns. If you’re interested in stress-free Social Media marketing that works, contact us today!