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Are Facebook ads valuable or a waste of money?

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I’m a marketer, which some might say would mean that I love all those banner ads. The fact is, like many of you marketers out there, I can get annoyed by some of those flashy ads— like the weight loss ones that I see over and over until I do my best not to see them any more. I bet that any marketer can name a top irritant.

But I do click on ads, the ones that are RELEVANT to me, in my time and space. When I click on an ad, I tend to be highly engaged. I may be at the early stages of information gathering and the information helps me include or eliminate a choice, or I may be at later stages in the buying process and I want more details to make a decision. When the information is relevant and timely and informative, the advertising works.

So when GM announced that they are pulling out of Facebook advertising, it prompted me to do a double-take on Facebook advertising performance. Is Facebook advertising simply not effective, or is GM’s advertising not providing relevant, timely, informative content to their audience’s time and space?

In a recent BtoB article, some of our marketing campaign lead generation performance results are presented.  Facebook advertising was one of the more effective tools in the integrated toolkit. One of the key advantages I’ve found to marketing in social networks is audience targeting—using audience-defined profiles to help eliminate irrelevant ads. Facebook profiles provide demographic information that help marketers avoid serving irrelevant ads. As this profiling process evolves and improves over time, the targeting becomes more precise and the advertising noise subsides. Think about this like the personalization process of an application like Pandora. Over time, Pandora personalizes the radio listening experience so that the audience is served up music that they are likely to enjoy. 

We are not to the point in time where advertising experiences are perfectly optimized and the audience is only served ads on Facebook or other social networks that they are likely to enjoy and find relevant and informative. So in the short run I’ll still find myself seeing ads that I’ll try my best to ignore. But as marketers pay attention to profiles, and the types of ads that a specific audience clicks on, marketers can both invest their advertising dollars wisely and better respect their audience’s time and space.

For more information about this topic, please join BtoB’s webinar May 22, “The Rise of Social: Emerging Market to Market Majority,” with Sharon Crost and Petra Neiger, senior manager-digital and social media at Cisco Systems.

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