Last week, I mentioned the traditional wisdom of including faces in your Facebook Ad pictures, but cautioned against an unsophisticated application of that “best practice.” Today I’ll take a look at a sophisticated application:




Why is this ad sophisticated? Three reasons:


  1. The ad understands the real motivations behind weight lifters looking to get “big guns”
  2. It understands the power of gaze
  3. It understands the power of social


I’ll get into each element in detail, but before we go there, let’s just get a gut-level comparison of this ad to another ad aimed at weight-lifting, body-building types:




Not nearly as eye-grabbing a photo, right? Why? Again, the three elements…

1) What The Target Audience REALLY wants


First, if you’re looking to build big biceps, you’re really not into weight lifting for athletics or health, at least not primarily.  If you were, you’d be talking about things like Cross Fit or Squats or Olympic Lifts or Kettlebells or something similar.  And that means you really are trying to look muscular and athletic as much as anything. In short, you’re lifting for your looks. Which in young, single guys, typically means you’re hoping to look better to the ladies.

And so what does this ad feature? It features a rather attractive woman apparently mesmerized by the guys bicep. This goes way beyond the generic “sex sells” to a laser targeted focus on the audience’s primary aspiration.

2) The Power of Gaze

Many people on the Autism Spectrum remain un-tricked by magic tricks. Everyone else looks where the magician is looking, but not those with ASD.  And that’s the power of Gaze: the power to direct attention where you want it.

A more ad-specific example of this was featured rather prominently in eye-tracking and conversion optimization circles a few years ago, when the results of an eye tracking test were released as two sets of heat maps:




As you can see, where the model looks, the viewer looks also. So while having the model stare out at the viewer may seem arresting, it means the product get’s significantly less attention.  And the same goes with our first ad – by featuring the model looking at the man’s bicep, the ad effectively directs our attention right to the promised benefit.

3) The Power of Social


Whenever you’re logged onto Facebook, you are psychologically primed to think in social terms. In terms of how you’re being viewed, how you’re defining yourself, who you’re associating with, interpersonal relationships, etc. Sounds like a no-brainer, right?  Well, these associations that you’re not really conscious of, affect how you see the world. They bias you towards the social for the moment.

And that means that an ad featuring apparent social interaction – and offering a way for you to increase your social status – will generally win out over an ad that doesn’t,  So compare the lady-staring-at-bicepts ad with the lone-lifter-looking-at-his-own-bicep ad. Which feels inherently more social?  Which more fully and successfully appeals to social motivations? Oh, and last but not least, which one actually allows you to see the faces of the model(s)?

And there you have it: a smart, sophisticated use of “faces” in a Facebook advertisement. Hope this provided some food for thought.*


* Unfortunately, the copy for the two ads is reversed – with the crappy picture having better copy, IMHO