Just as Facebook goes public, advertisers go public and start to suggest Facebook ads don’t work. Kick started by GM saying they aren’t going to advertise on Facebook anymore Headlines like these have started to pop up all over the place
Without even reading these articles, you kind of get the picture. Some of what is said in these articles is pretty stark.
John Coleman, CEO of The VIA Agency , says that Facebook’s “platform” – the free stuff, like brand pages – is an “integral” part of his clients’ marketing campaigns. In fact, he says his agency spends lots of money driving traffic to clients’ Facebook brand pages – just not with Facebook. “We’ll use Facebook for apps and other engagement but we’re using other [paid] media to drive that.”
Ryan Holiday, who is a media buyer for American Apparel says:
From the time that Facebook stopped serving banner ads through Microsoft to now, the spend I oversaw fell from nearly $1M per year to a few thousand dollars a month. “The return is not there. Unless you’re selling apps or lead generation, I think Facebook ads are underwhelming. I see bad things ahead for the Facebook IPO and perhaps, rising dissatisfaction among clients.”People go to Facebook to interact with their friends. It is fundamentally different from the ad platform that is Google. People go to Google to find something they need, possibly ready to buy, which a good percentage of the time can in fact be solved by someone’s ad. Facebook ads, on the other hand, annoy users. They yield no real value, and thus no profits.
Rance Crain in AdAge says
The problem with Facebook and other social media is that they were not designed to carry advertising.
This is a bit of a challenge right? Certainly for marketers, media buyers and it really challenges Facebook. So does all this mean that Facebook ads don’t have a role to play? I certainly don’t think that is the case. But it does mean you need to think about what their role is. Ford, for example, sees the site as a way to build long-term relationships with customers, not just as an online billboard.
Rance Crain challenges how we are thinking about these new online tools:
“The internet now allows us to do those three things with amazing efficiency and creativity,” Keith said. “But none of those activities substitute for creating and sustaining the brand itself. “The point is we need both — the brand-building skills we learned in the past, combined with the brand-extension tools technology offers today. The danger is that in our mad dash to be digital, we lose sight of the former, and a brand’s core values begin to disintegrate.”
Al Ries sums it up nicely when he says:
“if you don’t have the right strategy, good tactics won’t help you very much. And social, like all media, is a tactic. What concerns me is that too many marketers have elevated tactics — especially those of social media — to the level of strategy.”
Facebook probably need to start thinking about the challenge it is facing, especially as it tries to get its mobile ad product right. But sure they don’t need me to tell them that. Advertisers are challenging the model (although we have all known the CTR are low…for a long time!). Facebook probably need to look at new ad models that don’t interupt as much. They need to be agile enough to challenge themselves (just as their ASU’s challenged other advertisers when they first appeared).
These are interesting times. It is all worth keeping a very close eye on. But don’t discount Facebook ads just yet. Just make sure they are part of your strategy, that you are tracking and measuring them, and they are working hard for you. Then, like any media spend, you can determine if they are right for you and what you are trying to achieve.