Notes about Facebook advertising

FacebookUnless you’ve been stuck in some sort of time-warp (or you’re my Dad) over the last few years, you’ve been on Facebook and seen all the ads being served up on your home page, fan pages, and everywhere else. The Facebook ad server is a pretty robust beast for Marketing types to be able to pin-point who and how many of the more than 400 million Facebook users they want to target. There are a couple of options, and differences to note when looking to create a Facebook ad campaign.

Facebook’s self service ad manager allows anyone in the community to create an ad promoting whatever they want. It can be a quick, inexpensive way to reach out to your target audience in the places they frequent such as fan pages, groups, like pages, etc…. With literally hundreds of options for demographic targeting, you can whack away with a broadsword, or poke at specific groups with a toothpick – your choice. You can also select CPC or CPM, as well as run the ads only at specific times for a specified duration or budget amount. Plus, it’s all wrapped up in a simple, easy to understand interface that makes the barrier to entry about the height of a standard speed bump. The big omission here is that these ads do not run on the users home page. You know, the page where you spend 70% or more of your time, the very same page where you go when you log in to Facebook every day. To get on the home page, you have to pay – and I mean really pay.

To run with the big boys, and get your ad on the home page you work directly with Facebook sales to start up a, for lack of a better word, custom ad campaign. Your investment will buy you a lot. If you figure that there are more than 400 million users on Facebook, and they spend 70% of their time on the home page, that’s a lot of time to see your ad, by a lot of people. There are greater capabilities with these campaigns, you still have all of the targeting from the self-serve ads, plus you get greater tracking. Facebook can track post impression visits for 30 days, which means if you see the ad on your homepage, and visit the fan page 28 days later but not by clicking on the ad, it’s tracked for marketing purposes. From an ad buy position this is cool.

Another cool option here is the friends of connections advertising. With friend of connections targeting you can serve up your ads to friends of people who already Like your page, application, group or event.

Things to consider with the custom ad buy option are that it’s expensive, by their own contact form their looking at folks wanting to spend 10k or more to start. $10 grand can be a hard pill to swallow for a small business trying to ramp up their social marketing campaign. Users also don’t typically even see the ads until the second or third time they’ve logged in for the day, which simply means you have to create a better, more compelling ad than the next guy. And no, Facebook won’t let you opt to server up your ad to users on the second or third time they’ve logged in, sorry.

Facebook has compelling case studies on their ad page, which, naturally, is very enticing. Just like every iPhone app developer wants to have the next #1 selling app, every ad buyer wants to generate thousands of dollars in sales for only a few hundred invested. Don’t fret though, you can do it, it just takes a little time and some savvy ad placement. The best thing about the self serve is that it’s cheap, so for a few hundreds bucks you can play with it a bit, and get things tuned in and hopefully see some results.

Before you jump in do your homework, get to know your target audience, and don’t shotgun your ad if your product or service doesn’t apply to everyone in the world. What do I mean by that? Well, if you’re selling girlie underthings, you generally aren’t going to include 18 year old dudes in your scope. The consensus that ads are irrelevant and annoying is pretty prevalent, and you don’t want wast your marketing dollars falling into that group. A little research goes a long way, so take the time upfront to get good analytical data about your audience, then come up with a good formula for Facebook advertising.

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