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We stopped advertising on Facebook (vpj.svbtle.com)
164 points by vpj on Jan 10, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 108 comments

I think Facebook is making mistakes.

Adwords grew explosively, but relative to the expectations of Facebook, Google looks patient. Adwords didn't start off with ten million customers with endless budgets. They started off letting people buy $20 worth of ads at 5¢-50¢ per click. Some people figured out ways of selling ebooks or whatnot at a profit and figured out things like split testing, conversion tracking and such. They were then qualified to be consultants and go door to door to electricians or removalists who got a good ROI and eventually allowed the consultants to spend an extra $350 per month. Then they hired an in house 'PPC Specialist' who spend their week figuring out new ways to profitably send Google more money. A lot of the campaigns set up 5 years ago are still active. I worked as a consultant back in 2007 and most of the campaigns I set up are still running.

It took some time to figure out that Adwords works for dentists but not for burgers or detergents. That wasn't immediately obvious. Burgers and detergents were the big spenders of the advertising world and a platform that didn't work for them was a toy.

There were a lot of ultimately stupid campaigns started. Half the initial customers tried to get a better CPM (cost per 1000 impressions) by optimizing for a low click through rate, benefiting no one. Google killed this off by creating adrank. The other stupid advertisers were eventually outcompeted by those who could turn their click into revenue more efficiently.

My point here is that Google put a tool out there. It took time before users (advertisers) were good enough at using it to put pressure on the bids and bring up prices. Someone figured out how to sell car insurance. Comparison sites were created. They signed deals with insurance companies. Ecosystems developed.

Facebook ads aren't useless. They just work for some stuff. The advertisers just need time to figure out what works. If you are having a town fete and want parents with small children to know you have a petting zoo, Facebook ads will get you customers physically driving to you for cents. Incredible value.

Facebook is just impatient. They keep moving the posts in an attempt to find a formula rather than making good tools, leaving them out there and letting advertisers find the formulas.

The mistakes that FB are making have more to do with them going back on their word and constantly moving the goalposts.

First, you could easily get likes and share with them. Then, you had to essentially buy likes to speak to everyone. Now, you have to buy likes and then buy the right to speak to everyone.

It's not right, and it's a horrible experience, both as a user and an advertiser. When I like a page, it means I want to see everything they send me unless I click to hide it or content like it.

As an advertiser, the double taxation is brutally distasteful. Stock might be up, but I'm with the OP.

I think the problem is that by encouraging likes they changed the meaning of likes, and both the user and the advertiser ended up getting stiffed. The number of likes a page has is meaningless. They are just crappy and FB needs to move to something else.

But I agree with you. They encouraged advertisers to get likes by advertising and let them believe that is valuable. Then they devalued the likes (this happened almost naturally, people like too many things). So, they did screw their customers around.

"The keep moving the posts in an attempt to find a formula rather than making good tools."

I disagree. They have been rapidly improving their tools (which in the past were absolutely useless). The improvements are the main thing driving the change, and they are using what they hear from advertisers to inform their changes. The difference between Facebook and Google is that the intent piece of Google made building an ads product that is essentially native and noninvasive to the users much simpler than Facebook. The WSJ piece from recently spelled it out, but the leadership of Facebook only recently started thinking about putting its best people on the ads product.

Overall, it's a sinking ship. People don't go checking out someone's profile looking to buy car insurance, people don't check the news status looking to read more about plumbing in the local hood. Hardly on Google's level imho. Facebook is used like a yearbook you check everyday but only a couple of pages in your interest. Unless they start watermarking profiles with ads it's hardly going to even get most people's attention even if it was plastered all over the page.

It's only a matter of time before they realize they can't beat google and the sad reality hits, they can't monetize. There's no way to monetize hundred millions of people around the world who don't have wallet or credit card. Likes is a good example of this. Even if people who use facebook have a credit card they are probably not in the buying mood. Friend tells me a product is good, one still uses Google to verify, unless he's a real bro and I trust his tastes. Likes is a good example of people 'paying' their useless attention which has no price. It's free anyone can give out 'likes' as many or as senselessly as they want. Instead of credit card, you get people's clicking action that supposedly builds you street cred but like this article highlights, it's mostly comprised of no significant value to the advertiser.

First there is a business model to be had trying to sell car insurance to people while they're checking out someone's profile. Rather, there is a business model to be had trying to slowly change people's association with the brand trying to sell them insurance. It's not high CPC/CPM but Facebook have a lot of inventory and potentially good "demographic" data.

Second, a big part of being native is letting the right advertisers find you. This is what I mean about being patient. It may be hard to picture now, 10 years later but Google initially had the same problem. The real advertising budgets were looking to replace/augment their TV & poster campaigns. Advertisers were FMCGs (detergents, coca cola), cars, movies, etc. Local pilates instructors & 2 man shop insurance resellers didn't have advertising budgets. No one was searching for "what is the most refreshing drink?" so any ad for coca cola would be "non-ative" (BTW I really like this description here - thanks the_watcher).

BTW, buying is not a huge part of adwords. In fact, it's pretty hard to get a positive ROI on a "product" purchase campaign.

To give you an example, if you want to run a one off event that's good for parents with kids, Facebook is awesome. It would probably also work well for showing film trailers, showing stand up or theatre "trailers." etc.

>> BTW, buying is not a huge part of adwords. In fact, it's pretty hard to get a positive ROI on a "product" purchase campaign.

Great point.

If I understand you correctly you are talking about how adwords link to marketing landing pages that _give away_ something valuable to the user like an ebook in exchange for your email address. In this way they convert you by slowly giving away more value, building trust, and upselling premium offerings, etc.

People don't watch television to watch commercials.

People don't drive on the freeway to see billboards.

This argument that advertising must be like google "advertise people looking for things" is not the value Facebook is offering advertisers. It's offering something significantly different and in many ways bigger. "Advertise people when not looking for things"

I've discussed this a few times with people and I think I disagree, sort of. People don't watch television to watch commercials but strange as it seems that ad for fairy dishwashing liquid is very natural to what TV does. TV makes culture, especially low brow culture. It decides what is popular, trend, famous, etc.

The laundry detergent on TV is the famous laundry detergent, just like the actor on TV is the famous one. Branding is really trying to turn the thing you're selling into a cultural icon.

The examples to counter this are beyond just television.. people don't goto airports to get advertised with IBM or barracuda advertising.

People don't goto football games to watch the Goodyear blimp.

People never ask to be advertised to but..,

Where people go in mass, advertisers want to reach them.

There is no place people go consistently more than Facebook and they have the best mechanism for targeting so many niche sets of users.

And to argue facebook isn't culturally relevant vs TV. I'm a little bit lost with that one. Memes and videos everyone must watch are a cultural phenomenon heavily driven by Facebook.

The fact that Facebook advertising targets you so well (or not) is something that is a common conversation just like talking about the annoying (or not) commercials that exist on TV.

"People don't watch television to watch commercials."

The Super Bowl is a notable exception.

>It's offering something significantly different and in many ways bigger.

I think that is debatable. Sure, BMW could target young Asian kids with rich parents on facebook, but there's already a rather big demographic targetting with the likes of Youtube and Google's data on a user. Google's reach of your demographic and browsing history paints a far more clearer picture for a potential advertiser, as you are more likely to notice an ad campaign when it's displayed before a youtube video or a blog you read. Facebook would be great for someone showing off their purchase not necessarily for buying products through poorly placed ads that your brain is trained to ignore.

They can't monetize? They already are. I think your sentiment might apply, though. Due to the context of facebook, they probably won't be able to monetize at a Google-like scale.

The Facebook data is worth a lot, though. Google knows what you're looking for, and Facebook knows what you're already into. For best results, an advertising network would have both pieces of data.

I agree with a lot of this, and sure no one goes out looking for a plumber on Facebook but Faceboook advertising really does work. Tons of case studies show that it is extremely effective especially with CPCs < $.10 and such.

I've spend quite a bit of money on facebook ads for various of my own businesses & clients & I've basically stopped everything for a few reasons.

I can't rationalize playing FB's game anymore. With the recent decrease in page reach, you're basically paying double time for FB. Once to "get" the fans and then again to "reach" them.

Sure, we saw an increase in site activity, but it was debatable whether or not that actually increased revenue. I'd rather put my money towards users who are searching for our products explicitly or building up our own email list that we can "reach" anytime we want.

The best results we got for FB were through adroll or perfect audience that were utilizing facebook retargeting.

[1] http://www.adroll.com/ [2] https://www.perfectaudience.com/

How can it be debatable? Either your sales increased, or they did not increase.

If your page views went up but your conversion rate dropped by the same amount, that would be worthless traffic.

This is an honest question as why should we believe anything you say if you're not even doing the basic maths? Did you measure anything?

The original link is quite embarrassing as well, "By the way, this may not be the case with advertising for Clicks to Website, Website Conversions, etc. - I don’t have experience with those."

I would assume these individuals know very little about advertising. This is unfortunate because it masks valid criticism about Facebook's platform.

The Facebook "game" is to purchase likes, and then use that as a base to target advertising. At minimum it acts as a filter so that your advertising is reaching people who are active Facebook users (they click like), if done correctly they are both active and have some passion for the topic they are "liking."

One of my friends is a consultant who has done extensive work with Facebook advertising and has to clean up accounts that are basically fucked because a previous employee/vendor/consultant purchased a bunch of un-targeted foreign likes. Once those off topic likes are purchased (someone in Pakistan "liking" Las Vegas) the subsequent ad campaign is ruined.

If you bother to measure your ROI you can make a logical choice as to whether Facebook makes any sense at all to advertise on. Perhaps the ROI is negative, but close to breaking even. You can then take a very tactical approach not just your Facebook campaign, but your site or app, to tailor to those Facebook visits, and get a positive ROI.

Some markets are so competitive, or peculiar, you just will not get a positive ROI. That is not a Facebook unique issue. It applies to all channels.

The discussion so far is one of, this makes me angry, and this doesn't make sense, completely devoid of a analytical approach to the issue. Whether or not I want to personally use Facebook is another matter.

I should clarify:

It was debatable whether or not it increased revenue enough to justify the costs (both time & monetary) involved. What it came down to was that it wasn't profitable enough to justify the opportunity costs of executing FB instead of other avenues.

Good answer, you obviously do measure well, fair enough!

I now just challenge anything without numbers, it's frustrating to read wooly posts about SEO or online advertising that aren't explicit. You always wonder if they actually know what they're talking about or just one of those useless 'theory' guys.

There's also the possibility that uptake was insignificant enough to be indistinguishable from organic growth.

Today you have to spend money to get any of your posts shown on Facebook. I estimate that 2 percent of my audience ever see a post without paying to promote it.

If you don't pay for it, posts have to be "engaging," which is why link bait titles from BuzzFeed and Business insider always make it onto my news feed, but not posts from cool projects that I care about.

Those make it to your news feed because people share them (which I guess makes them "engaging," but not in the way that engaging promoted posts are engaging). Every time a post is shared, liked, commented on, etc., the person taking the action places that post into the queue of content fighting to get into all of their friends News Feed. I believe that Zuck said there are on average ~1500 pieces of content fighting to get into any given users feed.

You can help Facebook serve your feed better by marking posts as irrelevant, uninteresting, as spam, hiding stories from certain people/sources, etc., as well as trying to interact more often with those posts you find interesting (also, share them more). One of Facebook's core competencies is aggregation and analysis of the massive volumes of highly specific data they generate. Improve your inputs and their outputs will improve as well.

The upside is that I see very few sponsored posts in my timeline.

Don't worry about promoting from your page to your fans unless you see high repurchase value from that channel. If most of your fans are on your email list, definitely don't bother. Use lookalike audiences and unpublished page posts to try and acquire new customers from Facebook. It's really not a great channel for retention (in my experience), but it is fantastic for acquiring new customers.

Facebook may be targeting more traditional big brand advertisers than it is small business advertisers (who need ads to convert to sales in a much tighter window). e.g., the Coca-Cola commercial you see on TV probably doesn't make a single person get up out of his chair, go grab his car keys, and drive to the store and buy a Coke. Yet, over time, get exposed to enough of those ads, and when it's time to buy, your hand instinctively goes for the one your brain is bombarded with ads for all day.

Then again, Facebook ads give advertisers much less of an "in your face, brainwashing you against your will" impact than TV commercials do.

This might just be a case of a revenue model that simply doesn't fit the platform. It may be that Facebook is going to have to figure out another way to justify its high P/E ratio.

>> the Coca-Cola commercial you see on TV probably doesn't make a single person get up out of his chair, go grab his car keys, and drive to the store and buy a Coke.

>> Yet, over time, get exposed to enough of those ads, and when it's time to buy, your hand instinctively goes for the one your brain is bombarded with ads for all day.

I don't really think that has anything to do with it. At work we having both Coke and Pepsi vending machines. Most people prefer the taste of one or the other, to the point where if a place only serves Coke and they prefer Pepsi, they won't order it. Not unlike beer in America (Bud Light vs Miller Lite, etc)

Soft drink choices come down to availability most of the time. Chances are if you are at an event such as a sports game or concert, they've already made the choice for you. Same goes for a restaurant, McDonald's has Coke and Taco Bell has Pepsi.

> I don't really think [brand advertising] has anything to do with it. [...] Soft drink choices come down to availability most of the time.

Coca Coca spends about $3 billion a year on advertising. [1] I couldn't find a breakdown for how much is brand-building versus other goals, but I think we can agree it's a lot.

That suggests two hypotheses: A) People in charge of a $3 billion budget for an incredibly profitable and long-lived company know what they're doing, or B) An anonymous non-expert on the Internet has correctly realized that advertisers are just fooling themselves, and he (and everybody else) is above being manipulated by brand advertising.

No offense, but I'm going with A.

[1] http://www.ajc.com/news/business/coca-cola-spent-more-than-2...

I'm going to go with B. Just because "everyone is doing it" doesn't mean they know what they're doing. Coke spends a ton of money on advertising because they want more sales and common wisdom says the way to get more sales is to spend a ton of money on advertising. It might work, it might not, but it isn't a simple 1 to 1 thing and it works differently on different people.

On a personal note, I grew up drinking Coke (because my dad preferred it), and I generally prefer the taste of Coke most likely because it's what I grew up drinking. I've seen Coke ads, and I've seen Pepsi ads, and neither one makes me want to drink one or the other or go buy one or the other. About the only thing it might do is influence me to go get a Coke if I was already feeling a bit thirsty although even if it was a Pepsi ad it would probably still make me want to get a Coke. In this case it would be a win for Soda vs. some other kind of drink like say a Starbucks coffee, not specifically Coke vs. Pepsi.

There was a really great discussion on Reddit (of all places) about the purposes and results of advertising. One of the things someone brought up was that a lot of times, ads are there to reinforce your existing preferences and purchasing decisions, and not to influence your making of them.

Post: http://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/comments/14y695/el...

See the first reply to the first post:

> Holy fuck. You're right. I bought a car recently, and while the TV spots had nothing to do with my decision, now when I see them, I sing along with the song and cheer at the TV and shit.

It turns people who bought your product in to people who are fans of your product, which makes them more likely to become repeat purchasers (and less likely to seriously consider other brands when it's time to purchase).

Completely off topic, but reading this ^^ has made me go and grab a Coke from the office fridge. Can't say I wasn't thirsty but can say seeing the word Coke several times above did have an effect.

Related to A - there's an old quote from John Wanamaker, father of advertising: "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half." It may not be clear to anyone (even Coke themselves) whether facebook advertising, or any other channel, is effective; they just know their total efforts are working very well.

I'm not so sure, at least on the beer front. I grew up in St. Louis, home of Budweiser. Everything in the city is named after one of the members or former members of the city, and just about every event in the city is sponsored by Anheuser-Busch (owner of Budweiser). I have since left the city, but if I'm looking for cheap, crappy beer that's available at any bar, I reach for a Bud-something-or-other.

Sorry, I feel compelled by the Holy Spirit of drinkability:

This is the famous Budweiser beer. We know of no brand produced by any other brewer which costs so much to brew and age. Our exclusive Beechwood Aging produces a taste, a smoothness, and a drinkability you will find in no other beer at any price. Brewed by our original all natural process using the choicest Hops, Rice and Best Barley Malt.

What? Is this a plug for Budweiser? They are a terrible beer that is getting more terrible.


It's the message printed on the label on every bottle.

Read it carefully. The beer achieves the self-described rating of... drinkable. That's not very high marks!

Haha I'm sorry! I didn't know that, that's why I said "what?" I don't read the bottle because I am a huge beer snob who doesn't ever touch a Budweiser.

But I'm just one of those beer snobs who really likes drinking a good brew, not one that talks about "camel overtones" or other stuff or whatever that means. Reading beer reviews makes me angry.

I pledged a fraternity and one of the brothers made us all learn the slogan from the Budweiser bottle, so now whenever anyone mentions Budweiser I think of it, and it is really funny. I'm honestly not sure if I've ever drank Budweiser since college, but its outstanding drinkability rating, I will not forget!

You may have a point, growing up in the Philadelphia area, if I want a crappy beer I instinctively go for Yuengling.

> Not unlike beer in America (Bud Light vs Miller Lite, etc)

Please don't insult American beer by reducing it down to the very bottom of the barrel.

If you think that the way you experience the taste of what you eat and drink is not influenced by advertising, think again.

I realize there are brand images and advertising is part of that, and I'm definitely not saying they should reduce the advertisement budget to zero. I'm just saying most people like either Coke or Pepsi, and other than when you're a grocery store, the choice has already been made for you. Hell, it's rare to see a Coke vending machine next to a Pepsi one in most places.

If that is true, why would these companies spend so much on advertising?

I don't think the person you replied to is 100% on the money, but assuming he is, the companies would still need to advertise so that the venue or the restaurant purchased that product.

And the venue / restaurant is going to choose what they think people like, so smart brands would still advertise to the end consumer.

If you are advertising to decision makers in a restaurant, there are probably much more effective ways of reaching them than mass TV ads.

Yes and no. I imagine (yes, that means I made it up) that with a big enough brand, venues can piggyback on your life-style mass marketing. Both in terms you brainwashing their customers to ask for it, and in the more subtle way that carrying your brand will allow the venue to associate itself with your image (eg. Bollinger, Carlsberg etc).

Facebook style ads CAN convert in a tight window, the problem is people are looking in the wrong place for them. Nobody checks out their timeline, sees a coke ad and immediately clicks to buy. Those ads don't "convert".

What does happen is the cumulative effect of those ads put your brand (coke) top of mind. Later when somebody is searching for "snacks" on google and paid search ad comes up, that person is more likely to chose Coke than RC Cola.

You need to look at effect your "brand" advertising is having on your paid search conversion rates. The industry is trying to solve this with "attribution" schemes ie figure out which ads every converted person has seen. (shameless-plug) But my company, Optimine has a much cooler and simpler approach using incremental modeling.

Here is a white paper that I think does a decent job of explaining. http://optimine.com/assets/pdfs/Measuring_Cross_Channel_Valu...

How does this model work when people block ads entirely online?

Disclaimer: I'm 31, block all ads online, and don't own a TV. I haven't seen a TV commercial in years.

You are accounted for and not the off the grid.

You are influenced by your friends and culture. Brands try to penetrate both. You have just offloaded some of your choice/reference to friends and internet when your ready to look. They they get you.

> You are influenced by your friends and culture. Brands try to penetrate both.

Not so much. I have few friends, and their opinions don't influence my buying decisions. I could care less about brands. Show me the money (cheapest option of greatest quality, based on independent research usually wins).

I understand I'm an outlier. I'm just looking at it as an older millennial who doesn't use the radio or TV (paid pandora, video is all consumed online through mediums with no ads) and who is phasing out the use of Facebook (and rarely, if ever, logs into Twitter).

The thing is, everybody thinks they are impervious to advertising. Everybody thinks they always choose the "cheapest option of greatest quality, based on independent research." They're just mostly wrong, is all. They either don't understand the way their purchasing decisions actually get made, or they choose to tell themselves they are made differently than they are.

Which isn't to say that you're not the exception, just that generally speaking everybody thinks they're the exception. So how you think you buy things doesn't mean much; you'd have to have someone outside your own head look at your purchasing patterns to know for sure.

A single data point is too small to reason about. But lets say there was an ad campaign that was blocked at a high rate, or even just placed poorly where nobody was seeing it or something. Our scheme would assign those impressions a low value, ie it would come out that cranking impressions or lowering impressions isn't effecting conversion rates anywhere else, so why not turn the ad off.

I don't think you can block News Feed ads with Ad Block, although I am not 100% sure about this. I thought they functioned like a native ad.

When launching something new about mid-last year, I went back on my long-standing feeling that FB was esentially worthless for companies (I generally don't believe that people really care about busineses on FB).

So, I went ahead and created a page, whereupon FB immediately began pushing me to buy likes (as I call it) or promote my page (as they call it). It felt extraordinarily scammy, especially given that I would then have to pay even more to reach those same people later.

But, I pushed through and tried it. The results were abysmal. Less than 100 likes, very little engagement, and a couple of conversions. Probably cost me about $1K.

Now, it can be argued that it was our message, service, etc. But, this story repeats itself all too often. I think the value of an FB like is highly overrated, even for "validation" purposes. People are increasingly turning a deaf ear to what their friends like and/or what shows up in their feeds. In fact, the very proliferation of like activity that FB and other companies push has diminished the value of likes over time until they are now completely meaningless or nearly so.

I think the issue is more that facebook inflated likes by interfacing with companies, killing the "organic" likes at the same time. I no longer see most likes from my friends -- not because they've stopped like-ing things -- but because facebook is unreasonably throttling the activity stream for some reason. Why would I be friends with these people on facebook if I didn't want to see some of their activities -- or want them to see some of my activities? I don't get it.

Yeah, killing organic likes is part of it. When you promote the heck out of likes and what's like-able starts to be more dependent on who is willing to pay for them, then they naturally become less organic.

There must have been something off there.. my most recent Facebook campaign got just shy of 200 likes for a £15 (~$25) ad

I'd be interested in knowing what the average is.

The title is a bit "baity"/misleading. They were only advertising for Facebook "likes" - not clickthrus etc.

It should probably read, "We stopped advertising for likes on Facebook". To which we'd probably just nod or shrug.

Facebook has trained a lot of people to be afraid of Like-ing anything, installing any apps, associating anything with Facebook, etc. It's like they're searching for every possible gold-laying goose and killing it.

PS: this is wrt to "likes" vs the facebook ad part of the post

Not to mention that Facebook has drastically throttled updates pushed from pages to a users timeline, making the whole concept pretty useless unless you pay them (I know, I know, capitalism at its finest).

About a year or two ago, each update that came from our page (auto update from an rss feed) would be seen by 100 - 300 people, now we're lucky if 30 people see an update, usually its more like 7 - 15.

Whats the point?

Buying likes (beyond a certain point) anymore is largely an outdated methodology. Once you've got a significant number of likes for your Page on Facebook (which is kind of a case-by-case number, depending on your brand, business, demographic, etc) you don't need to focus as much as building an audience.

Facebook has released a wealth of tools via their advertising platform in the last 12 months that make serving ads to the users you want to reach a much easier prospect. You don't need a super-large 2 million user base Page in order to get the word about your product out. Granted, you do have to pay for distribution now, instead of a few years ago when it was free, but the tools that are available (ad units, targeting, etc) are vastly better than what was available 2-3 years ago.

So, the article is correct in it's denouncing the value of a "like" on FB, but that value was always due to drop. Having more fans early on in the days of Pages was the main indicator of the success that a brand was having on FB. Those days are long gone, and [FB] marketers have to be more intelligent and deliberate about their strategies, and they have to be willing to put their money where their mouth is.

Nothing new to be honest — I figured out Facebook likes are useless when Facebook gave me 20€ or something like that for reaching first 100 likes; long story short — "likers" never actually did anything in my website, just liked it.

Exact same story here. Free £25 voucher for facebook advertising. Targeted a very specific niche in the London region. Got a few likes, the vast majority (more than 98%) were people way outside the demographic I targeted and it had zero impact on my click-throughs.

It's a pretty weak article, if they wanted to drive traffic to their site why were they focusing on getting likes rather than CTR ?

Doing internal FB advertising only really makes sense if you have a strong FB presence (i.e. Facebook game or if you push lots of sharable content via your FB page).

Exactly. They went about it backwards. They should have focused on driving traffic (website clicks). A successful traffic-driving campaign has a byproduct of likes. Even better, those likes tend to be people who used and actually liked your product, rather than those who just clicked like.

NOTE: If you have less than 1000 likes, you should pay for likes until you get up to that number, as it unlocks some advertiser features.

What features are unlocked? I only know of boost but that appears at 50 likes. I can't see anything different on my page with >1000.

I just checked out nearby.lk's Facebook page and it's no wonder that they weren't getting performance out of Facebook Ads.

Facebook Ads are amazing. Nothing else has come close for us both for direct conversion and likes. Likes are far cheaper to acquire and can be extremely performant if used in the right ways.

Facebook has a huge learning curve though. As with all things, if your FB page doesn't have "page/audience fit" before the ad campaign, it won't after the ad campaign either.

A few things to add, my background is in running direct response marketing campaigns for tech/web Co's. A few years back we did a small monthly ad spend via facebook, basically display ads with very cheap CPM's and even then pretty great demo targeting, but poor results. It was cheap and semi relevant so we continued on.

In the last 3-6 months many of the Co's I've been working with have greatly expanded their FB advertising with CPA's on par or better than Adwords Search. It's very important to separate branded and non branded search terms on Adwords when evaluating a campaign. Non branded is what matters for evaluating effectivess of Search campaigns.

FB has a huge advantage in demographic targeting. There are only so many relevant queries on Adwords and once you have covered your bases with relevant KW's, its hard to profitably scale past that stage. You can endlessly optimize but the gains are incremental.

I agree that buying likes on FB is not great, the exception is if your super targeted by demo and location, and then do friends of friends lead campaigns on top of the newly acquired likes, that can work, but it takes patience and a bit of budget.

FB's rising stock price is a direct result of their expanding share of advertising budgets.

Back in the old days, businesses advertised in order to sell their product. Anyone still doing that?

Back in the old days, businesses sold a product. Anyone still doing that?

Yes, but its all made in China. (Nothing wrong with that.)


I think Facebook Ads to get likes are really good to get those first 100 or 1000 likes that make you look like a serious product. However, you should never expect that ad spend to generate any other value than that.

in that case you can just buy 10k chinese likes on ebay for a dime. They are worthless except increasing the counter.

I've tried that but they disappear after a while. The ones you get from Facebook Ads are real people who will also normally like your posts etc.

I found that using FB advertising to promote your website or product works:


I would use it as a sales funnel, but anything beyond that would belong into "Brand Recognition" which is really impossible to measure anyway and only the biggest brands who target general population should do it.

This is just silly. Even Facebook discourages buying likes at this point and says they have no value. Of course, you aren't seeing performance.

How are they discouraging buying likes if they tell you the number of likes you will get when you want to promote your Facebook page?

They were advertising on Facebook and were not buying likes.

I use FB advertising to generate leads for my retail education business. We use Adwords too.

CPL via FB is about $1 (we're in India) and the CPL via Adwords is about 80 cents. Conversions: FB is basically garbage, less than .5%, while Adwords does way better and gives a positive ROI.

I have used Adwords retargeting but not FB retargeting, has it been beneficial to anyone?

Likes for the sake of likes are meaningless. The value of the whole Like system is that it gives you some notion of brand reach and adoption. You undermine that with programs specifically designed to drive Likes.

Facebook encourages programs like this because they make money off of them. But they're a sucker's game; internet marketing is still internet marketing and people who are good at it know how to assess the value of an online marketing campaign with cold numerical efficiency.

Google's advertising system is still far superior to Facebook's because it's built in such a way that Google makes more money when their advertisers make more money. Facebook still has yet to find a way to show real ROI in the way that Google does. I think they will eventually, but right now their mantra is that social marketing is different than online marketing.

Their overall monetization plan with pages seems terribly short sighted. I've been pitching how to limit reliance on FB to clients for a while now, as we turn to other sources for social acquisition. I think this could be damaging in the long term for FB as this will likely become the trend.

A bit unrelated but if Facebook wants to make truckloads of money... I am still trying to figure out what the holdup is for an Adsense competitor -- I'd definitely try it on some of my content sites.

Most people browse the web logged into FB, so it doesn't seem THAT problematic from a technical standpoint. It also wouldn't be that out of place for me to start expecting ads based off of profile data.

Could you imagine how targeted the offsite ads could be? The marketer in me is already salivating over the concept.

I feel like I'm missing something incredibly obvious here.

Facebook wants you on Facebook as often as possible. They are taking the opposite path to monetizing the same data. I'm noticing now that their FBX retargeting has gone beyond just sites I visit to sites similar to those that I have recently visited. I'm also noticing really improved cross-device consistency, as they are using my UID to link my devices when I am logged in to Facebook (across the web, as you said).

Valid point -- I suppose the functions of Google and FB are different. But even then, still seems like a great revenue stream

I agree, I'm an online marketer too and I'd pay a fortune for a Facebook informed AdSense. Just don't think it's in their roadmap, as it fights against their world domination goal.

"Their overall monetization plan with pages seems terribly short sighted."

The problem here is that promoted posts from your page isn't the best way to use Facebook. Use it occasionally, but Facebook is much more similar to TV or print advertising than search ads. Think about it: Google, you use keywords to judge intent. Facebook, you use demographic information to introduce yourself to those in the demographic you thrive in.

I have been saying this forever as well. As a marketer this is what I want, not the current ad units Facebook is selling. I think they could honestly destroy Google Adsense and dominate the display ad business. With their data and a Google like distribution of their ads they would be unstoppable.

Promoted Likes have always made me nervous on FB. One of the Pages I help manage ran a Like campaign. The page is very niche specific and appeals to people living in a certain area. Even though the campaign was targeted, an abnormal (around half) amount of new Likes came from Bangladesh (not targeted, not even close to a target market). We complained but it didn't help. That was 2 years ago and I've seen similar stories since then. Haven't trusted this sort of campaign since that experience and would advise anyone to stay clear of it. Unless of course you want to get Likes for vanity. In that sense, this campaign will help populate your Page, but expect low quality "fans", which could hurt your reach and engagement levels and screw you over with Edgerank.

I've run millions of dollars worth of Facebook ad campaigns. "Like" campaigns are the equivalent of brand advertising, a world in which there are no directly measurable metrics, so advertisers judge their performance based on metrics like "Did your ad campaign increase awareness?". Also, surprisingly, the most effective way I found for actually acquiring likes cheaply was to run direct response campaigns focusing on clicks to website, offer claims, and website conversions. So we got the best of both worlds, cheap fan-getting, as well as DR conversions. Basically, what I found was that to get their desired result of "people who visit your website then like the page," it is much more effective and cheap to focus on driving them to your page.

I'm not surprised that the "get more likes" campaigns fail to generate positive ROI. If you goal is to get people to sign up on your site why not create ads that at least drive people to your site?

This is maybe the third or fourth post I've read along the same lines: a lot of people aren't seeing ROI and engagement. FB isn't right for everyone, but there ARE people making money on it. Aside from having the right product and service offerings that do work on FB, you need to make sure you have the right campaign with clear goals and smart targeting. Without auditing their targeting options I can't say whether they got any of this right, but their Facebook content and profile aren't really set up for a liking campaign's ROI either.

The author has described, which is pretty obvious for any enterprise that have used facebook advertising to gain followers. They do not convert, and even worse, they don't help spread the word. Unless you post a photo of lolCatz. But how exactly a serious profession like I am in (logistics) can keep posting lolz cats photos. ;)

As for Facebook for advertising your products i.e links to your product pages or website, the ROI is worse. But I keep using it however, because in my market, using Adwords is no more affordable, I roughly pay $0.03 for a Facebook ad click, while the same costs me $0.25 on adwords. That's why I had to give up on Adwords.

In the expense of time I'll keep this short: Facebook likes are more important than you may considered. After working with online marketing we found out that Facebook suggest your likes to people in your networks. That means if you like a certain page, your friends are most likely going to be shown that like, hence increasing the possibility of them liking your page.

I myself have discovered many pages, articles and even bought products online based on what Facebook suggests I should like. Like the shoes I'm wearing now. It really does work even though there isn't an easy way to track it. Don't underestimate what a Like can do.

There is one use case where Facebook likes are useful, even critical: in online brand protection. Users that actively "like" your page to receive your news have been proven to "like" the page with your company's name that has the highest number of likes (in other words: the most liked page is perceived to be the official page). If there are other pages about your company created by third-parties, and that get enough likes to be mistaken for you, you definitely want to have more likes, to make sure to remain the page that is perceived as official, and keep using Facebook as an information channel.

Whatever nice algorithm or perfect code facebook could uses for the advertising the problem will always remain, people go on facebook to connect with other people, or to peep on people they don't know - that's its market share, nothing more and I don't think they can change that. It's a flawed model and I don't think it'll survive for long. It could have become a great protocole if it had been open since the start, but it'll probably have the same ending as... what was it, myPlace?

To me, the big WTF is that Facebook has recently effectively said "If you don't pay to promote your updates, they're going to be seen by a lot less people in the future - including those who already "Like" your page.

So the decision of whether to purchase "Likes" on Facebook is now much more of a no-brainer. You're not going to see the same ROI on ad spend as you once did (and even then, the ROI was tentative at best).

There is a vast difference between number of likes and actual people talking about product(which matters) . In most cases followers on twitters and likes on facebook are some random user profile which can't correlate with your industry specific product and large number of such profiles look fake. I won't recommend concentrating on likes and followers but it's the engagement which actually matters .

I would not read too much into this. Whether FB is good for business depends on your business. I know a company who is scaling back everything but Facebook because all their business is done through facebook, with clear analytics showing the discovery of their product is foremost on FB.

FB, for some industries, has great targeting. Tech business, probably not so much.

PS they target demographics, not getting likes

"We stopped advertising on Facebook to get Facebook “likes”, because we felt that it was a giant fruitless scheme of making Facebook rich. "

Yes, if your only objective is to get Facebook likes don't do that.

And by the way they don't seem to get Facebook. Or Social Media Advertising.

But I hand to them that 'like' has become a random thing.

Everyone I've ever seen who has talked about how much they 'get' Social Media Advertising has been a snake oil salesman.


However this is not about "getting" (and bragging) this is about "not getting"

But you're right, if the person is bragging this is usually a red flag.

It's like someone bragging about "How they know how to write stories with Word" or how they can totally "Do calculation with Excel"

I don't see why people are complaining...facebook's job is to get your product/services in front of your would-be customers. It's your duty or the duty of your marketing department to brainstorm winning strategies to engage your audience.

From business point of view, we want to push our ads to the users. So forget about buying "likes", but use "Clicks to Website, Website Conversions". Anybody has any successful story on that kind of ads on FB?

The targeted users become victim, though.

TLDR: We were paying for likes on Facebook, even though we had no idea what they were or why we wanted them. We also haven't done any research on other ways to advertise on facebook because we assume that's the only way.

We did a study among likes and retweets , http://www.beevolve.com/social-media-audience/ just in case if you are interested

From first hand experience I absolutely agree with this.

Using Facebook's own PPC channels we are getting fraudulent clicks and fake profiles come via Facebook as a legitimate cost.

'Fraudulent' being the most important word.

Real likes == money spent

Unless the customer was duped into spending (free trials)

facebook also ditching sponsored stories as of apr 9


All this talk about facebook advertising not gener

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