Do Facebook Ads Really Suck?

Do Facebook Ads Really Suck?

Jul 23, 2013 — 4 min read

With 900 million monthly users, Facebook commands an enormous captive audience that should be ripe for advertising. It’s the very reason why the company is currently valued at $100 billion. But perception and reality aren’t always the same thing and as the tide turns against the efficacy of Facebook advertising, that valuation may soon seem absurd. Facebook puts advertising in the hands of the masses from creation to click through. It’s innovative, but with a CTR of only 0.020-0.050%, it seems that the accessibility that Facebook ads provide is the very reason why they aren’t working.

It’s not me… it’s you

Facebook puts advertising in the hands of the masses. You can author an advert in minutes from anywhere at any time. And therein lies the rub; it’s not so much the medium that is at fault, but that the ad authors have no experience in advertising. One of the main reasons for the low CTR of Facebook ads is because they are created by the users themselves. If only watching Madmen made you an advertising genius, Facebook ads would probably enjoy riotous success. Unaccustomed to the rigours of making eye-catching headlines in 25 characters or less, most Facebook ads are as dull as ditch water. Mastering the art of the Facebook haiku-esc format is really extremely difficult.

  • Facebook ad success
  • Not for the pusillanimous
  • On this we’re unanimous

Distractions, distractions everywhere… Squirrel!

Another contributing factor to the dismal CTR of Facebook ads is all the distractions offered by the news feed. You would much rather see which of your high school crushes got chubby, like pictures of your friend’s babies, even cat memes are more entertaining than Facebook ads about getting rid of your belly fat. With so much visual stimulation, Facebook ads get lost on a page that provides far more interesting and personal things to command your attention.

The content of your news feed is personal; it provides an emotional connection that draws your attention away from the advertising and makes you feel like your personal space is invaded when Facebook dares to add a recommended post to your wall.

It’s not like Facebook isn’t trying hard to remedy the situation. In fact, they are paying enormous sums of money to very smart people to come up with things like tailored advertising and new formats that hope to produce better ads that are as personal and arresting as the pictures of your nearest and dearest. One of the upgrades that will be coming soon is a news feed that features regular adverts tucked between your posts.

Facebook ads can be effective if you know how to frame, design, word and target them correctly. If everything from audience selection to killer headlines is combined to create the perfect ad storm, you may just get a better CTR than the average bear. However, even the most perfect of Facebook ads still have to compete with the distractions offered by the news feed and the irritation that users feel at having their space invaded. Facebook’s policy of not sharing any information with advertisers, regardless of your privacy settings, means that you are not able to tailor to your audience or refine your adverts. Instead, utilize your analytics to tweak adverts until you have the best possible configuration and then it’s full steam ahead.

Continually evaluate the conversions you get from your Facebook ads to ensure that you are getting the bang for your buck that you deserve. If it’s just not working out, it may be time to break up with Facebook and consider other forms of internet advertising that are more effective. David Shephard from Jib Strategic explains: “I am not a big fan of FB ads. That’s probably because most of our business is in the b to b space. The limited experience I’ve had with FB ads has not been positive. However, I do like LinkedIn for very targeted advertising for the b to b market. I’ve had very good results for our clients seeking introductions to buyers and/or distributors.”

Nikki Fotheringham

— Content Marketing Specialist

A Toronto blogger specializing in green building technologies, renewable energy and all things green. I have traveled the globe, swum with sharks and been bitten by a lion (fact). I live with my husband, Ian and a very bad dog.