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Facebook ads don’t work

Joseph Perla writes that Facebook ads don’t work because it’s the wrong platform for advertising

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.

But, then, how is Facebook so profitable? Are they lying? No. They are growing. More and more people sign up to Facebook, and more and more businesses hear about how many people are on Facebook. It seems like a huge opportunity. TV shows and award-winning movies are made about Facebook.

Because of Facebook’s presumed success, many small, medium, and large businesses individually and in turn experiment with Facebook ads. They spend hundreds or thousands or more on Facebook ads. At the end of the first run, they see bad ROIs. They tweak the ads and spend more money and try again. Nothing. So they stop, understanding that Facebook ads are worthless. Almost everyone I’ve talked to who has actually bought Facebook ads knows this. But, not everyone has bought Facebook ads yet. There are still more and more new businesses finding out about Facebook ads. As they grow, even more businesses give their money to experiment in destined failure.

Related: Paul Graham saying the same thing about Yahoo! back in 1998.

One Comment

  1. Matt says:

    This article is accurate. I am a small business who just finished my facebook ad experimentation. We dropped over $800 into facebook ads over a four month period. We went from 10 likers to over 5,500 likers. We have an app made by CD Baby that lets people preview and buy our music right on facebook. In order to understand why my sales from this campaign added up to zero, yes, not one sale, I had to dig into how the system is designed, including a prediction about how people use the system. My first misunderstanding was the numbers in “Social Reach”. At first glance, I thought it said people who have actually went to my page and used my app. But upon studying the words deeper, it really says people who have seen my ad on thier friends page because their friend interacted with my page OR, like my page. The “or” is important here. This leads to the main problem and the cause of why facebook ads don’t work…

    The facebook ad has a “Like” button on it that cannot be removed. A person sees my flashy looking ad, clicks the like button on the ad, then goes about reading their feed without ever even going to my page, seeing my app, or listening to my music. But I still get charged for the click, even though the ad did not do it’s intended job, which is getting people to veiw and listen to my music. In turn, this users friends see that their friend has liked my page. And that is recorded as “Social Reach”. So my social reach is very hign, but it really isn’t usefull information.

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