I just completed my two weeks experiment with facebook advertising. As I did not manage to get a Facebook ad coupon, I prepared myself to spend money from my pocket but at the end of it I was not too excited about the outcome.

What I tried to do with the facebook ad was to kind of promote my affiliate links without making it sound like one. In the process, I also figured out that Facebook advertising is not meant for direct sales or affiliate marketing but more a mechanism to build your brand. The following are my findings based on which you can derive your advertising strategy as well.

Facebook Advertising Basics

Advertisement on Facebook essentially refers to the campaign that targets facebook profiles (users). These ad blocks – a picture, a heading and short description text underneath – appear on the right side panel of the targeted facebook pages.

One can easily kick start with a Facebook advertisement by just uploading an image (standard image size for Facebook ad is 110 x 80 pixels), and adding a heading and description of your ad. You have to provide a Credit Card number up front and there is no support for paying via PayPal etc.

However, it takes 10-12 hours (sometimes even a day) before your facebook ad is approved! This is something that they need to really improve. Basically, the image approval process is what takes time. They will make sure that the image that you uploaded is very relevant to your advertised product, do not contain rated stuff and also not violating any copyrighted, trademark protected product or service. In addition, they are very strict on the rated stuff itself – perhaps even stricter than PG13 norms. For example, the % of skin that can be shown on the image is highly restricted – even if it’s a (normally) publicly exposed part of the body like face or hand. The approval process is really the biggest disappointment and it is nowhere near to the satisfaction levels of Google AdWords campaign for example.

There is a possibility for you to pay for impressions (CPM) or clicks (CPC).

Good and Bad about Facebook advertising

I targeted my Facebook ad for the US region alone and for the grown up audience. After a couple of rejections, finally my ad got approved and as of today it has created 1617 impressions in the US and absolutely no clicks. Fortunately, I opted for the Pay-Per-Click model and hence no money spent on it so far.

So what’s good and bad about facebook ads?

Advantages

  • Facebook allows your ads to be targeted at a very specific audience (As their punchline goes ‘Reach your exact audience and connect real customers to your business’). For example, it is possible for you to target all male audiences with a particular hobby, in a particular age group from a particular state in the US or any other country with your facebook ad
  • Simple and easy to use ad design screen
  • Allows CPC and CPM models
  • Extremely good for brand building at a very low cost
  • May be suitable for building on your fan pages etc for low cost
  • Facebook has overtaken Google in terms of traffic and hence you can create millions of impressions in a matter of seconds

Disadvantages

In fact, I found that the Facebook advertising solution has a lot more shortcomings than plus points and here are some of them:

  • Only one type of ad blocks – There are no different sizes and shapes of ads. Also they appear only on the side panel and not in content
  • Limited keywords: Though ad serving is done based on the profiles there’s an additional possibility of keyword based filtering. In Facebook ads, this is done as tag filtering but there’re only very limited number of tags
  • Low CTR – Click-through-rate is very bad mainly due to poor ad visibility
  • Very slow approval process
  • Ad tracking & reporting modules are not up to the mark
  • CPC costing and pricing functionality is not there – basically we do not get a feel of how much should we pay for a click

Tips for Facebook advertising

Overall, I got a feeling that Facebook Advertising is still an immature product that they still continue to experiment with. However, it is still a reasonably good ad medium for certain types of advertising. The following are my general guidance to those who want to experiment with facebook ads.

  • Use it more for indirect marketing (like building patronage or fan base). You may keep running it permanently on a lower CPC basis and that works out really cheap
  • Never opt for CPM (Paid per impressions) model initially
  • Use it a mechanism to highlight your brand via the image
  • You might want to keep experimenting with tags based on targeted audience’ hobbies and tastes
  • Start with a restricted audience (e.g. age group, sex, location, marital status etc) and then slowly broaden the scope

Happy Facebook Marketing!

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