The Irony of Our Facebook Ad Fascination

by · June 15, 20128 comments

Everyone is up in arms about Facebook ads. Sure the social network giant needs to improve its business model, which is mostly driven through advertising dollars, to help investors gain confidence and bring that stock price back up. And yes, there are those in the social space that are concerned about Facebook’s ability to do so and are, thus, watching closely.

But it seems that nearly everyone who is talking about Facebook these days is talking about he advertising model, not the actual reason people go there or the utility the network serves. I’ll admit, if they don’t fix the advertising prospects and make more brands happy with what they can get in return in dealing with Facebook financially, some serious reinvention will need to happen for the company to remain the industry’s Alpha dog. But there’s an important piece of data in this whole conversation I’m astounded people aren’t recognizing a bit more.

Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Fr...

Facebook logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The average click-through rate on a Facebook ad is .051 percent. It takes 2,000 impressions of your ad before one person will click on it.

Brian Solis has a very interesting post that discusses how Facebook is making more information on click and conversion tracking available to advertisers. Who are only going to see a .051 percent click through rate.

Fellow Altimeter analyst Jeremiah Owyang has been trumpeting the future of brands being noticed in that they will have to pay for that notice. Instead of seeing brands looking at the reality of Facebook’s metrics (.051 percent CTR) and predicting brands will say, “No thanks,” the industry analysts are essentially predicting that Facebook will be God and brands will be stupid.

I’m optimistic that most brand managers and CMOs aren’t morons. I think some will continue to experiment with Facebook’s new ads-in-the-newstream concept. But most will be disappointed with the metrics and divert that money elsewhere. Mind you, it’s probably not because Facebook ads won’t work, but rather brands generally suck at content. The new ads-in-newstream concept puts the onus of creating compelling content on the shoulders of the brands. THAT’s where Facebook’s model will fail for most.

For the content-minded and capable, Facebook ads will be useful. Click-through-rates will be good. But they won’t likely be light years better than .051 percent. And when strong SEO and even PPC campaigns can turn in rates hundreds of times more effective and traditional advertising can still motivate and move masses of people to a conversion point at once, .051 percent will prove crucial in this whole conversation.

Why are we wasting so much energy talking about an advertising platform and network that is so infinitesimally poor at delivering value?

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://twitter.com/Tevko Tim Evko

    This crying over ads is ridiculous. Dream up a good ad to run, make sure you content is great, and create discussion. The fans/likes will come pouring in. It’s not rocket science

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      And Amen!

  • kevinhudson

    Jason, I love your no nonsense (“no bullshit”) approach to how you explain and educate. You provide fantastic points and opinions, based on extensive knowledge and experience, but you talk/explain things like a human. This post is a great example of this.

     
    So often I see marketing/PR professionals explain in jargon and by almost treating the audience as idiots (e.g. not wanting to hurt their feelings by making them realise their mistakes etc). In todays world of information-overload it’s great to see a thought leader whose honest, knowledgeable and straight to the point.

    I agree by the way. One of my pet peeves is brands who pin all their hopes on Facebook, purely because it’s the “alpha dog” of social platforms. Unfortunately, as you’ve pointed out, It seems this trend is spreading into the social advertising realm too.

    Anyway, great stuff as usual!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thank you for the kind words, Kevin. I aim to be useful. Even if I’m sometimes abrasive in doing so. Appreciate you chiming in.

  • http://richardrbecker.com/ Rich Becker

    A very good direction Jason, and it might benefit for marketers to appreciate that its not the platform that is underperforming. It’s the ads those marketers make. 

    Besides, who would want to pay for impressions when they could just as easily pay for the clicks? While results vary, we have one account that has an 80 percent conversion rate on each click for about .80 to 1.20 per click. I’m okay with that because those conversions deliver 5-10 more people over three months (because the content matches their interests). Since I’m only paying for clicks, I look at the impressions as a bonus because the next time around, the ad might benefit from some additional familiarity and be more aligned to their interests. 

    The real problem, it seems to me, is that marketers are looking for some one size fits all formula that doesn’t exist. If one did exist, everyone would do it. That is until they realize that if everyone is doing it, then it’s no longer effective. 

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks for the perspective, Rich. Agree certainly that the problem is often marketer’s trying to find the one size fits all model. And they’re basing what they want on traditional ad impressions, etc., rather than seeing new ways to quantify success. Thanks for chiming in and sharing! Congrats on the 80% metric. That’s amazing.

  • http://propertyagents.co/real-estate-lead-generation-course Muhammad Ayaz

    I am huge fan of facebook advertising and you have mention great tips about it and certainly great direction to use them.

    thanks for sharing. 

  • http://twitter.com/jwongjk Jan Wong

    Love how you went straight into the point on this one. I totally agree with you. There are tons of marketers out there still thinking that well polished PR content works on today’s digital platforms only to find weak returns in the end (and they still don’t know what’s wrong!).