Let me say in this my first post for Business2 (thanks for having me) I have no shares in Facebook (more’s the pity) and no real axe to grind either way in this tale. I just thought this might be of interest to anyone looking to brand and differentiate themselves effectively, potentially save some advertising dollars (who doesn’t want to do that?) try something new and maybe make themselves look pretty tech savvy in the process.
OK, I was the same too – deeply skeptical as I was of all Web 2.0, self-indulgent bloggers, twits and lamebookers. I’d heard all about alleged ‘click frauds’ last year (search ‘Facebook click fraud’ and you get 18 million results).
About a year ago I attended a small business seminar where the concept of advertising on Facebook came up, and a quick demo was run on how easy it was to setup and how quickly results were viewed. I had try it for myself. I put up an ad (it was easy to do), aimed it towards 35-55 year olds who live in Perth (I hail from there) and sat back and watched the results.
Now 11 months have ticked over (long enough time to measure results I feel sure), the ad has been served up almost 22 million times (22 million!) to my target audience and it has cost me a tad over $3500 (or $300/month for 2mn views/month on average). I humbly show you the stats (screen shot of my Facebook Advertising account below) and invite you to pore over the numbers. [Note: $ values are US dollars]
Being a small business owner with a limited marketing budget, I have experimented with many things over the years (local papers, radio, billboards, cinema ads, car ads…) but the results of my Facebook advertising have blown me away. I don’t know anywhere you can get potentially millions of directed ads ‘served up’ into your local market for this cost. It equates to an average CPM (cost per thousand views) of 16 cents.
CPM for my various Google ads run at over 10 times that, and I can’t (as easily) send my ads to people on Google as determined by their age nor where they live. Moreover, all Facebook ads include a thumbnail image of my choosing. Google ads are mainly text based.
If you compare Facebook advertising to more traditional advertising (local papers, cineads, billboards and the rest) the latter tend to follow the old media rules of a ‘shotgun blast at a target’ approach, which is (literally) ‘hit or miss’ at best and (to stretch a tired metaphor still further) provides less ‘bang for the buck’, Charlie Gunningham
As audiences reach for their own divergent media, an advertiser can get lost in the choice, or use that choice to target people directly. I know of an experiment done by fellow Business2 contributor Peter Fletcher who targeted a Facebook ad to be viewed by ONE specific person. As Peter knew their profile settings, he could send up an ad on to their pages when that person next logged on to Facebook. The ad garnered 7 views and was clicked on once – by that person. You can’t get any more targeted than that! I’ve seen shorter Ad campaigns targeted at filling a seminar room and this has been their only marketing spend (about $50) to fill a room of 100 paying $200 a ticket. (That’s a pretty good ROI). No need for brochures, mail outs, email campaigns. Grab people where they are, and who you want to grab.
Moreover, you can run as many ads as you like, set a daily budget (you never go above it), determine your cost per click, pause and delete the ads whenever you want. You can send ads onto Facebook pages of people living in different cities and countries in different age ranges. Enter your credit card details and it gets billed automatically, with notifications of amount spent. You are in total control, can view the results and adjust your ads and settings whenever you like.
Over 6.6 million Australians are on Facebook. 300 million globally (75 million in the States). 1.6mn over the age of 18 are on Facebook in Sydney, 1.4mn Melbourne, 885,000 in Brisbane, 562,000 in Perth… (To check these stats yourself and research further, go to ‘Advertising’ in the footer on Facebook and click ‘Create an Ad’ – under ‘Targeting’ you can play with the variables).
What surprised me at first is that more people over age 40 are on Facebook than under age 20. It’s a myth that this thing is for kids. And 90% of Facebook users are active (login more than once a week) and 50% login daily. Often 2 or 3 times a day. Do you think these people are interested in real estate?
A few caveats at this stage. You’ll notice that my ad had 22 million views and ‘only’ 6000 or so clicks. A pretty poor ‘click thru rate’ (CTR) you might say (a miserable 0.029%). However, that was deliberate. Being a penny pinching sort of guy I adjusted the settings to maximise possible views (which are free). I was doing it as a branding, differentiation and “getting your name out there” exercise. (You can also set them up to get traffic to your properties, profiles, home page and pay per views if you wish.)
The real estate advertising applications are obvious
- real estate reps can put a photo of themselves, a brief heading and 135 characters of text, and link the ad to their own profile page
- individual properties can be put up (as a normal part of every marketing campaign) linking to their individual pages on the agency’s own sites
- Auction campaigns with standalone web sites or individual pages within sites
- Simple branding ads sending users to your home page, or better yet, some specific landing page (competition, offer, new blog post…)
- Ads linking to your Facebook page to drum up ‘fans’
- Use these ads for recruitment of staff (e.g. you’re looking for a property manager and can using age, interests and possibly gender targeting)
- Setting up these ads as a normal way of doing things could make you look extremely tech savvy with your vendors and other clients
It would seem something to (at least) consider; but if all the above is true (and I have probably missed most of the advantages others can see straight away) is this the future of targeted advertising – if not on Facebook, but on social networking sites in general? What does this mean for traditional media who rely on local advertising?
Facebook.com is already breaking even on this advertising stream. I believe they are going to earn a mint from this, in the same way Google did from Adwords. I have reduced my Adwords spend and moved the money to Facebook. If more and more do the same, what will this mean for Google?