Bridging the gap in Facebook Advertising

Facebook advertising has long been a point of contention for many brands big and small. With a variety of targeting options and an easy self-service system, it’s easier than ever to sign on and start advertising with Facebook. But even with that seemingly easy system, many brands are still unsure how to determine the ROI of these ads for their businesses. With new product offerings and the changing experience of Timeline, sponsored content will be more important than ever in the next chapter of Facebook marketing.

So where is the gap?

Social Fresh just released The 2012 Facebook Advertising Report, an extensive study surveying a number of factors for brands and their Facebook advertising. You can download the full report here, but I’ve pulled out my thoughts below.

Perception, Reality

Among respondents, Awareness and Audience Growth were the first and second most common reason for running ads, however more interesting was that when asked what ad goal they had the most money to spend on, the highest response was Audience Growth. So brands are willing to spend money to get a larger user base (read: more likes) but at the same time seem to acknowledge that their ads are really driving more awareness.

Vague Targeting

Age and country were the most used Facebook ad criteria in this report, but the interesting thing to note here is that the more advanced targeting features like Zip Code Targeting or Connections, aren’t being used heavily. These are some of the most robust ad opportunities for marketers to advertising hyperlocally, as well as run advertising to fans and friends of fans.

DIY Fail

The most striking thing that stood out to me in this report is that 70% of respondents do not work with an agency, and even of those who do still only another 70% work mainly with a combination of Digital, Social Media, or Advertising Agencies.

I understand the small business mentality, and the self- serving nature of the platform, but working with an established Advertsing or Social Media agency can take a lot of the guesswork and time out of the process.

As Justin Kistner, Director of Social Products at Webtrends says in the report:

“70% are not working with agencies. This is bad, because it means there are a lot of advertisers spending money without sufficient experience, to get results. Very few successful AdWords advertisers manage their own ads.”

Now maybe I’m biased because I work for an agency, this is an agency blog after all. The thing to consider about working with an agency is this: we live and breathe the space we work in. Just because it’s an emerging medium doesn’t mean the agencies are trying to pull a fast one on any business. There’s a process and procedure that agencies bring to the table, something that the individual business owner usually can’t invest time in because they’re too busy running their own company. Use them as a resource, even if you just have questions.

The full report is a great read and I highly recommend you download it here and check it out for yourself. If you’re looking to do business in the social space coming up you’re going to realize that what separates the big from small brands is strategic paid social media and strong community engagement.

Are you using Facebook ads? How are they working for your business? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Originally posted on the On Ideas Blog

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