Is Facebook advertising still worth it?


When I read that General Motors, the US automobile giant, was pulling out of Facebook advertising, I wasn’t sure the kind of drift this event would set. GM was quoted saying that the FB advertising was not really working for it. Would organizations, marketing heads and brand managers re-look at their budget allocations shelled out for FB advertising? Not jumping to conclusions, I decided to wait and see how things catch up. In May 2012, Facebook declared a blip in its advertising revenue. It took everyone by surprise. Not that the GM business affected it hugely, but it did give a perception of a ripple effect that GM pullout perhaps had.  Timing was quite incidental in the entire episode since Facebook IPO was round the corner.

This event did have many of us thinking, is FB advertising worth investing into? Are Google ads better? Should we advice FB advertising at all to our clients or senior management? What is the ROI I am getting out of FB ads? Once this cloud of questions was out, there were researches, debates etc. showing both sides of the story. Needless to say, all eyes were set on Ford’s views.

A survey done by Greenlight Digital reflected that 44% of the sample size never clicked on FB ads where as 31% rarely clicked FB ads (the report nevertheless does conclude that more of us will be ads in 2012). Following the same line of thought, Forrester Research Analyst Nate Elliott wrote a blogpost on the effectiveness of FB advertisement. He cites the reason being “Facebook just doesn’t pay nearly as much attention to marketing as it does to user experience.”

Contrary to a few prevalent views, a little later, Scott Monty, the social media strategist for Ford, reinforced Ford’s faith in the social media platform. Also, a study by Neilson on the effectiveness of Facebook advertising, revealed increased recall and purchase intent when the ads had mentions of any of their friends’ names who were fans of that particular brand. Jon Gibbs, VP-media analytics at Nielsen said “I do think it requires a level of ongoing investment in social media as opposed to a series of short-term projects.”

To be candid, it is difficult to overlook the fact that Facebook has a population of over 845 million active users who can be targeted based on their profiles, which perhaps makes FB advertising more interesting than Google advertising (where the advertising is keyword lead).  Needless to say that each marketing plan should have a prudent mix of all elements, where each one brings its own set of advantages. Given the sheer size and segment mix this social media platform offers, it may not be wise to completely strike off this platform from an organization’s marketing strategy. The right approach may be defined by several factors including type of product, the stage of the brand cycle, audience targeted etc. DW6SSD3KG9WB

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