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Results from Facebook Ads

Facebook_melt_2On October 19th I launched my first Facebook ad campaign. The results reinforce a number of questions and concerns about the effectiveness of advertising in social media. Namely, using passive media tactics in an active media environment.

Results Summary:
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Ok, that’s typical banner response.

Here is the ad I ran. My target keywords were “advertising,” “internet” and “web design.” The targeted group was just over 89,000 Facebook users.

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I used a headline and image that I thought would attract attention and lend itself to a wider click-through by having more than one meaning to the targeted segments.

So what did these “people” do once they landed? My landing page was the homepage of this blog.

From Google Analytics:
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Not one of them spent more than a second on my site? This is very unusual. I know that sometimes Google Analytics doesn’t seem to record properly on certain referral traffic so possibly this is the case here. Typical search keyword traffic spends on average over a minute and a half on my site.

Here are my CPC bids by day and the resulting impression volume:
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Thoughts:
It’s not clear the higher bids improved my impression volume especially if you exclude the 5th & 6th as outliers. What is clear is that impressions are all over the place. Also interesting is that after all three days with better performance there was a sudden drop-off of ad serving (23/24th, 1/2nd, 6/7th). Why for instance was my ad served over 41k times on the 6th with good CTR and then just 1k the next day? My max bid at .50 was likely pretty high, especially for this target audience.

This seems to tell me that the Facebook back-end might not be ready for prime-time.

With all the recent euphoria around Social Media and Facebook I think we may be guilty of taking for granted the technology development needed here. Google has spent a massive amount of engineering resources and intellectual capital to build an auction based ad serving system that optimizes RPM. Maybe we should take pause when we start to think that Facebook will easily be able to create similar auction based pricing models that optimize advertising performance. It’s not as easy as Google makes it look. Just ask Yahoo.

So, as I’ve said before, new ad models need to emerge. Facebook’s Beacon idea looks promising as a way to create intent if it can survive legal hurdles. Surely technology will foster emergent and more creative ways to tap revenue in social but clearly patience is required and I’m not sure patience is something Facebook, the media, advertisers and investors have much of. Of course, how much patience Facebook users have for ads may be the most important question of them all.

"just a little patience, yeah, yeah -- just a little patience, yeah, yeah"

In any case, I'm not done testing. Next step is to do some tests with big brands. I'll let you know how it goes.

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Comments

The click through rate was horrific but I would expect as much from a banner. Do you think the results might have been different if you had used a custom landing page?

Pete-

I'm sure a landing page would have helped the 26 people who clicked. Not really worth the effort. In any case we're building one out for our brand test to measure vs. the homepage. We'll see if it helps.

Jonathan

You're kidding, right?

-26 clicks is not even worth blogging about.

-That banner is awful. You didn't pay attention to the targeting cues of your market, or atmospheric elements. Text heavy banners wont work here. More attention to detail was needed.

-.35 CPC is terrific.

-All things considered, I've seen worse CTR's for better banners, but CTR is too heavily weighted in most cases. At that CPC you can afford to run a .029 and if you can pick up volume, you'll show ROI all day with even a mediocre close %.

-When in doubt follow Google's lead. The reason they use quality scores in Paid Search is to offer a more relevant product to the searcher. As mentioned already, a landing page will garner better results.

good luck on follow up testing. Curious to see more results.

Thanks

This is very interesting. I have been hesitant to start running ads for our blog, www.realestatemarketingblog.org, under the skepticism that there was no way that Facebook's ad system was 100% ready, or even 75% for that matter.

You make a very good point in that Google has spent thousands of hours and millions of dollars on research and development to get AdWords where it is today. Facebook is not anywhere near that size nor do they possess that capability to get their system anywhere close in that short amount of time.

Facebook is definitely on the right track but I think I am going to wait this one out a little bit as I think more people like you will emerge with great information as you have provided here.

Daniel,

You're spot on. 26 clicks isn't worth blogging about -- only that's what makes it worth blogging about! The post is really about Facebook's performance, not about my results. That performance was a $0.09 CPM. So yes, I did pretty well...or did I?

Running a targeted ad for 2 weeks at a .50 CPC and getting only 80k impressions from FB (half of which came on a single day) is what I think is interesting. Doubling my CPC from .25 to .50 and not seeing more volume (except for 1 day) is interesting. Yes, the ad wasn't the greatest. You are severely limited with what you can do -- but the max bid and resulting daily impressions are more to the point.

Frankly I didn't expect much to happen once users got to the blog - admittedly the ad is a bit misleading. I'll be looking more at conversion rates in follow-up tests.

Thanks for your comment.

Jonathan

Time on site is only recorded if the user goes on to see another page. The way it works is the analytics system takes the time stamp from when they entered the site and subtracts it from the time stamp of when they viewed the second page to work out how long they were on the first page and so on. If they never view more than one page there isn't any TOS info captured.

Thanks Mark!

Jonothan,

Great post. I keep hearing about advertisers being able to choose their target audience.

See below reference to "How small businesses are using Facebook" article in WallSreet Journal -

Ms. Puri says she plans to run Social Ads soon and expects they will be what gets "boots through the door." Facebook has identified 60 people in Palo Alto and nearby Menlo Park that have claimed Indian food as an interest. Being able to reach those 60 people, she says, is "more powerful than any [traditional] advertising I could ever do."

Its interesting to me that they can pinpoint these people and target them based on I'm guessing their profiles. So maybe a targeted campaign does show great results? I'd love to know.

As for the inconsistent impressions.. kinda scary

Well, you paid peanuts for those impressions :)

I think you are totally right that Facebook is not ready for prime time with this type of an advertising model. As it matures, I think that more apps will be developed for specific interest groups to organically create meaningful content for the group and to virally draw others in.

However, I'm in agreement that a more visual graphically rich banner would have been more successful in this scenario.

I am just wondering if it's worth the effort. A lot of time could go in to creating landing pages, custom ads, etc. A .026 CTR is not so hot. Thanks for info / content

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