When it comes to digital marketing, the experts tell you to leverage as many online platforms as possible, including search, local search, PPC, social media and social media ads. The big question is whether advertising on social media really works; a question which Facebook is being pressed to answer.
In the period immediately preceding Facebook’s announcement regarding its quarterly earnings, speculation was rife as to what kind of profits it would report and what these would say about the company’s business model. The announcement took many people by surprise as Facebook reported declining stock prices and a less than stellar financial performance. As a result, we’ve seen headlines that vary from “Facebook Ads a Flop” (arbitagemagazine.com) to “Facebook ad rates surge 58 percent” (news.cnet.com)
We’ve also seen Facebook accused of advertising fraud, so the next question is: should you bother?
Rather obviously the Arbitrage article falls under this category. It references a study by the BBC that has found that Facebook ads consistently fail to deliver satisfactory ROI. One of the reasons for this is that people use Facebook socially and not to do their shopping or be enticed by promises of miracle weight loss. Then there is that fact that approximately 6% of Facebook accounts are fake and many of these fake profiles are the ones that “like” brands.
The whole Facebook-is-social-and-not-for-advertising argument is borne out by Emily Lambert in an article that appeared on Forbes. Lambert looked at the effectiveness of Facebook ads from an average user’s point of view. Granted, it could be considered subjective as she used herself as an example of an average user, but her methodology makes perfect sense. She looked at the ads that Facebook delivers to her profile; the ads that are supposed to reflect her interests and her friends. None of them actually matched her interests or targeted her supposed needs. The ads for brands that her friends liked failed to sway her because of her associations with those friends and with the brands. Then there were the weight loss ads (she’s apparently underweight), the cosmetic surgery ads, the credit card ads, the gaming ads, and, puzzlingly, an ad to investigate public arrest records.
The only thing Lambert got out of the ads was entertainment – as in she can’t believe what pops up in her account.
Limited Run is a company that really doesn’t believe in the value of Facebook advertising. Limited Run is an e-commerce store builder, which, according to Marketing Land, claims that 80% of its clicks came from bots. In other words, 80% of the ads it had to pay for were unequivocally useless. It alleges that the sole purpose of these bots is to increase advertising costs, which is obviously to Facebook’s benefit.
The claims have sparked a media frenzy. Facebook has responded, saying they are investigating the claims.
Another CNET article says that if you’re going to advertise on Facebook you need to look at mobile advertising. Facebook is relatively new to mobile advertising but statistics already show that mobile ads are clicked more than desktop ads and that mobile ads encourage more interaction and likes.
News on the Facebook advertising grapevine is that the platform will soon start showing sponsored ads, much like other search engines. Sponsored ads will appear in the Facebook search bar and will be marked as “sponsored”.
And, another handy marketing tool about to be unleashed is “Page Post Targeting Enhanced”, which allows marketers to target their ads to more specific audiences.
Should you bother?
All online advertising mediums have their share of controversy and all have their share of ROI investigations, so there’s no reason why Facebook should be any different. What Facebook does have is a massive audience. The potential reach is enormous and you don’t even have to spend that much money.
When you’re trying to spread your brand awareness, the question isn’t whether you should bother with Facebook but whether you can afford not to.
This guest post was written by Sandy Cosser. Sandy writes on behalf of Mediatorr Digital Marketing, a South African-based online marketing agency with an international spread of clients.