FaceBook’s Method is Bad for Advertisers

FaceBook shows ads in the sidebar, and the text ads have a little checkbox where you can tell the ad to go away. You can also give a reason, and choose to banish all of the ads from a specific advertiser. Or so it seems.

But the choices do not have the results you might expect. FB’s programming does not ever get smarter over time, it seems to be pretty stupid to start with. You’d think that if you select that something is offensive to you, or against your views, that they’d not show you similar things in the long term? You’d also think that if you repeatedly indicate that an entire category of advertising is uninteresting to you that eventually they’d show you other things? And you’d assume that since they have the capacity for smart ad display, that they’d show you more of what you actually click on, less of what you indicate as uninteresting?

Nope. Telling it to go away is temporary. You’ll often see it again in two or three days, often sooner. Banishing one dumb ad is often replaced by an identical one from a different advertiser. Both annoying, and really stupid, because it makes FB advertising FAR less effective than it could be. And it has a nasty backlash on the advertisers.

First of all, it means that FB is charging you to show your ad to people who have already said they are not interested. Often repeatedly. That is a waste of your advertising dollars.

Second, it is annoying the people to whom it is being shown. They already don’t like you. Irritating them further isn’t a smart PR move.

One of the problems is the manner in which FB determines ad relevance. Many advertisers do not understand how the ads are selected, so their ads go to EXACTLY the wrong sort of people. I’m a good example…

I am a marketer and web developer. I am also an instructional writer. I really don’t want to see ads for spammy marketing webinars and tacky “I can make you rich” online promoters. They not only leave me cold, their innate dishonesty and pushiness offends me. Showing me your ads is a waste of your money, and is only more likely to make me strengthen my efforts to teach people how to identify and avoid YOU. You really don’t want FB showing ME your ads!

If I indicate that I am a photographer, FB will show me ads from OTHER photographers! If I indicate that I design websites, they will show me ads from OTHER web designers!

This problem is two-fold. One is the fact that FB picks up keywords and matches them by the descriptions, hobbies, business pursuits and interests of the profile owner. The other is that most advertisers don’t understand that – so when they put in the keywords to DESCRIBE their ad relevance, it is matched with people who often are NOT their target market! A web designer should NOT put “web design” as a keyword for their ad! They should put “business owner”, or “jewelry designer”. They should put words that attract their target market, not their competitors.

Profile owners have no control over the bad interface. FB could care less what they think, after all, the service is free, and big enough that they think they are the 800 lb gorilla who can sit wherever he wants.

The advertisers, on the other hand, do have the power to change things. Money talks. If they start talking with their wallet, and complaining about ad relevance and ad preferences being ignored, and how that wastes their marketing money, then maybe FaceBook will condescend to listen.

It is already hard enough to be heard above the crowd on FaceBook, and promotion there really only helps a very small percentage of businesses who promote there (less than 1/20 of 1%. If you are actually spending money on ads there, then you need to know the limitations of the system, so you can avoid throwing money down a hole for months, trying to adjust the marketing to find what works, when it may not be possible for it to work for your target market. Understanding how it works helps you evaluate the potentials better to start with, and to make more effective adjustments early on, and to waste less money in the long run.

If you are in that 1/20 of 1% or less for whom it can work, it can be successful enough to justify the money you put in. If you aren’t, then it will suck money and not give anything in return.

That could change radically if FaceBook decided to get a clue and actually target ads, using the technology that they already have in a more effective way.

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