I've been wary of online advertising, mostly because I tend to ignore online ads. Facebook ads have been different for me, possibly because I've been addicted to the site for weeks now and I do seem to check out the ads. I've got a nurse scheduled to show up at my house on Wednesday to perform a physical for my new life insurance policy. I needed more insurance since having a child, and the Facebook game, Owned!, promised me a billion dollars for a quote. I've gotten auto insurance quotes for a leg up in Gangster Wars. In general, Facebook has enticed me to visit their advertisers when they've applied to me. I think part of this is that Facebook is a monumental time hole and running through an advertisers website is only marginally less entertaining than your average Facebook fare. With my personal marketing barriers knocked down, I decided to advertise my own business on Facebook after receiving a $100 advertising credit when I joined the Facebook Visa business network.
The most astonishing thing about Facebook advertising is the lack of any technical explanation. They practically give a marketing course in how to design a solid ad, and even then they micro-manage the ad with various edits after it has been submitted, but they don't really explain how their advertising works. For example, the bidding system is a mystery to me. On the first day my ad ran successfully when I left it ad the default amount of $.35 per click. However, after that first day, I went two days without a click. Over the next several days, I ramped up the per click bid to $.50, then $.75, $.85, $.95 and this morning to $1.05. Each increment resulted in higher ad hits, but nowhere can I find what this bidding process means. I'm assuming I'm bidding against other ads for placement within Facebook. I guess I'm supposed to just intuitively know this. Anyway, I feel a bit like a hospital patient with the little morphine button. You press it to increase your dosage, but at some unknown point it gives you the same dosage no matter how often you push it.
What struck me as interesting about the Facebook ad program was it's ability to target communities. It allowed me to pick cities, but apparently not regional networks like "East Bay." It also didn't allow me to select key words in user profiles to target, although Facebook claims to do that on the back end to increase ad relevancy. When I can better target the ad, such as the option to target everyone within ten miles who mentions the games we sell in their profiles, then sites like Facebook become the holy grail of advertising. I recently turned down boardgamegeek.com for advertising because their level of granularity couldn't drill down below state.
But does it work? I'm still fine tuning and although I've seen lots of clicks and have had an email from a customer regarding the ad, I don't believe we've had anyone redeem our Facebook coupon. It's for 40% off toys and puzzles, our Black Friday sale. On the other hand, I haven't spent a penny of my own money yet, just $30 of my $100 ad credit. Still, the daily feedback is so much more satisfying than throwing money at our cable TV and yellow pages ads and praying people see it. Best of all, I see this as an introduction to online advertising. If this turns out to be successful, I could imagine moving more of our very expensive and questionably effective traditional marketing budget towards the online sphere.