The lifeblood of the Internet is Pay per Click advertising that is dominated by companies like Google’s Ad Words. Google exploited the data it collected for years spurring a new type of practice called Search Engine Marketing. On a per click basis you could get your ad to show up in the SERPs of relevant searches.
As the Facebook network became larger, eventually becoming the largest social network on the Internet, it became apparent that the information collected from users became a valuable targeted method for advertisers. For instance if your company sells aftermarket parts for hot rods you can target Facebook users who are interested in Racing, are Male, between the ages of 22 and 52, and make over $50,000 per year. The targeting itself makes Facebook ads an interesting proposition.
I have overseen a couple of marketing campaigns that utilized both Ad Words and Facebook’s advertising campaigns. It’s a good idea to dedicate as much time as possible to one of these campaigns because having better click through percentages will actually get you a lower rate on advertising. During my latest campaign for my Facebook page I measured my success in Likes per $, and ended up with over 500 likes for 50$. The campaign was a major success because the users who ended up liking my page usually shared some of the content and got another friend or two to like it as well.
I started out offering .50$ per click through and targeted the categories I wrote for at Yahoo! By the end of the campaign I was only paying a fraction of that per click through and was generating several more conversions by offering targeted content that ended up being shared.
The problems with Facebook advertising became apparent later when Facebook itself altered their algorithm and my 500+ likes that were generating nearly 500 unique impressions with each message dropped to a rate of generating only 120 unique impressions per message (probably related to individual user settings and the amount of interaction they had with my page).
You see, Facebook urges you to use your Fan Page as the target for their ads. Until recently anyone who was a fan or liked your page would see your updates just as they see the updates from their friends. As users started liking more and more pages it became necessary to limit the exposure each message would get. It would have been a much better idea to use an independent web page that allowed me to attempt to get e-mail addresses for future contact than to use my Facebook page where future messages would not be heard.
Facebook themselves don’t want brands to get immeasurable value from fan pages. If you could reach all interested users with a status update, there is really no reason to buy Facebook ads other than to generate new likes.
The aspects of Facebook advertising that need to be looked into is whether a user on Facebook who was targeted by me through various demographics will actually break away from Facebook long enough after they click my ad for me to make an impact or generate a sale. It isn’t good business to buy ad space on a platform that you end up competing with, and that is essentially what Facebook is. Their user numbers are inflated by dummy accounts, and their ads don’t deliver in quite the way you’d expect. One of the most astonishing aspects is that Facebook’s control over their users is so overreaching that after I develop a page with useful content, Facebook generates an income from the ads displayed on that page. It takes balls to be able to get a billion users to generate content for your profit, but that’s basically what has happened.
Since the trend is to make brand pages less effective to elicit further advertisement, I only see the problem getting worse as Facebook’s programming becomes more sophisticated. As more and more 3rd party developers include the Facebook API in their programs and applications, Facebook will continue to collect more and more data on each of their users. So while Facebook uses my data to market me to other companies, my content to generate page views for their advertisements, and take my money while planning on how to render the results of my campaign ineffective, I just let them because they’re Facebook and if I want to reach EVERYONE, I have to play ball. What do you think about the monster we’ve created?