Is Facebook a Viable Advertising Platform
Is Facebook a Viable Advertising Platform
I posted a link on the AMWSO Facebook page suggesting that the majority of clicks on Facebook ads were being generated by bots. The comment thread got me really thinking about Facebook being a viable advertising platform.
First, let’s take on the proposition made by the linked story we were discussing. The claim is that a vast majority of clicks to Facebook ads are being generated by bots. IF True there are a couple implications to consider:
- The only party to profit directly from Facebook ads is Facebook itself. Unlike Google Adwords, there isn’t any revenue split with publishers. Facebook takes ALL of the ad revenue. So the only party to directly benefit from bot networks creating ad clicks, is Facebook. Wow, consider, if this is the case, that’s a pretty massive level of shenanigans.
- The other possibility for motive behind creating ad clicks, would be competitors trying to drive up the costs of their competition. If I’m selling XYZ widgets, and there are 2 or 3 other merchants selling the same on Facebook, I would benefit if they had inflated ad costs (clicks) with no resulting sales increases. In fact, my competitors at some point would probably get wise and dump FB as an ad platform all together, leaving me as the sole advertiser of widget XYZ.
In either of the above cases, it is wholly Facebook’s responsibility to take action and correct this situation. Of course again, that is if the ad clicks are indeed being generated mostly by bots. Interestingly, in various discussions about this story, there wasn’t a great deal of surprise at the figure. Why?
Well, let’s consider the platform of Facebook. As Nancy suggested on our Facebook comment thread, people don’t come to Facebook to shop…or even really search for things. They come to socialize, see what their friends are up to, look at pictures friends are posting and to play games. Of course Google, where people are coming to specifically search for something (often times a solution/product), should perform better directly as an ad platform. That is where an ad can generate an immediate and measurable result.
That being said, immediate measurable results still haven’t stopped companies from advertising on TV during shows, sporting events, billboards, subway tunnels, and all manner of things. People aren’t searching specifically for a solution in those circumstances either. But they get an image/idea planted in a person’s head, and hope that the idea will be followed up on or acted upon later.
I would suggest Facebook can be a bit in-between both of these concepts. Some people will see an ad, spark an immediate interest and click through and onward for some action. Also, ideas might get planted to be acted upon later. However I can see some immediate difficulties for Facebook as it stands now.
- Their ads just don’t seem visible to me. They are off on the side and in most cases I don’t even notice or pay any attention to them.
- They are very limited in what they can show/tell. A TV ad or radio spot, and even a billboard can “tell a story” to interest someone. I haven’t seen many good Facebook ads that “convey a story” yet.
- I think Facebook is hesitant to move the location of ads more to the center of a person’s vision, since I imagine this would annoy a great many people, and they’ll start to leave the platform. Especially now with growing competition from Google + and even Twitter (and perhaps Foursquare).
The Future Potential for Facebook Ad Interest
All this being said, I don’t think display ads on the Facebook site will be of any consequence in the future. I see the future is all about mobile and location. Imagine:
- You walk into a mall, and the Facebook app “knows” this. It can then present you with promos, sales, information from the merchants in that mall to entice you to visit their stores.
- You’re on a commute home and stuck in traffic. The Facebook app knows you’re near a favorite restaurant, and that restaurant can push an offer out to you, come in now to wait out the traffic and get a free dessert with your meal (or something to that effect).
- You’re on vacation in France or in Florida, and the Facebook app presents you with, “Hey stop into XYZ restaurant, it’s right around the corner and some folks from your hometown just came here last week and this is what they said….”
Facebook right now has the critical mass of people to do well in this space. They just have to keep those people engaged to Facebook until the future arrives.