What Are Lead Ads? Do They Work?

by Kendall Beyeler | February 16

In the fall of last year, Facebook rolled out a new ad format, and it’s a big deal. Early results indicate that the newest members of the facebook ad family, lead ads, are game changing. Unlike previous ‘new’ ad types rolled out by facebook, lead ads are not just a different shape, they have a completely new function.

Until now, the typical facebook ad flow has looked something like this: A facebook user sees your ad, clicks on it, then waits for your site to load – or in many cases clicks the “back” button because it’s taking too long (we’ve sometimes seen as low as a 50-60% click-to-land rate).

You don’t like the bounce, and Facebook doesn’t like their users’ newsfeed scrolling interrupted. This is where the new ads come in. The main advantage of a lead ad is that it eliminates the awkward and conversion hobbling disconnect between Facebook and other websites.

The easiest way to think about lead ads is to think of them as ads which direct to on-facebook landers, not as fundamentally different ad units. A lead ad itself looks just like any other ad on Facebook. What happens after the click is where the magic happens.

Facebook Lead Ad Form
Rather than being directed to a new website, a pop-up form with customizable fields appears. The information that Facebook already knows comes pre-populated. After information is submitted, the lead has the option to visit an external URL. So far, lead ads have been converting ~300% better than onsite landers.

Lander V Lead Ad Conversion
Their largest improvements we have seen are with B2B lead generation campaigns, which typically require more fields for lead grading. For these types of campaigns, the pre-populated fields have the largest impact on user input and thus the largest conversion improvements. In previous tests, we have seen the addition of just one field harm conversion by 40%. The results speak for themselves: with lead ads we have seen a ~350% improvement in B2B conversion and ~250% improvements for B2C. We’ve run lead ads over a few handfuls of clients and spent in the high tens of thousands of dollars on Facebook media to serve them.

Lander V Lead Ad Conversion by Customer Type
Lead ads also have a vast range of experimental possibilities. We are beginning to experiment with backend account creation via lead ads. We are also running them to supplement campaigns which are not strictly lead gen or email capture. The very cheap emails which they garner can be used as a resource for effective lookalike creation and also creative testing faster than standard funnel conversion steps. Also if your brand is particularly good at converting off email, then this might end up being a double-dip opportunity for conversion.

Need more proof that lead ads are really are the new thing? Here is the effect on cost per lead of a client who transitioned to lead ads over the course of two weeks:

Cost Per Lead
We don’t want to seem totally biased. Even though we are really excited about lead ads, there are some challenges to watch out for. Although conversion rate is higher, we also sometimes observe a lower initial lead quality. In those cases we’ve had to experiment with ways to (1) further qualify leads after submission, and (2) scrub poor leads out of our dataset before they go to the sales team. Even if the numbers work, there can be a human (i.e. “motivational”) cost to a string of bad leads sent to your salesforce. At a certain point a frustrated sales person might decide to just stop calling the FB leads. In those scenarios we’ve been able to successfully build in additional qualifiers or use an intermediate verification step to prevent a deluge of low-quality leads.

Overall the positives have outweighed the negatives when you look at the numbers in terms of raw cost-per-lead and downfunnel cost-per-sale. However we advise running significant testing to find if leads will work for you, and if so, what the best-performing ad/form/funnel combination will be.

We highly recommend giving lead ads a try. Particularly if you are running a B2B lead gen campaign. Feel free to shoot us a line if you have any questions!

Kendall Beyeler
About the author

Kendall Beyeler

Kendall runs our creative department’s ad generation and development. Her days are spent designing for a variety of social platforms. She Earned a B.S. at Emerson College where she found a passion for design. Kendall’s a product (tech AND beauty) junkie who loves podcasts, red wine and retail therapy.