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I can't get rich online and neither can you. Topics include why you won't get rich with your blog, ideas you wish you had thought of, and other Internet phenomena.

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You Can’t Get Rich With Facebook

I’ve been talking a lot about affiliate marketing lately, so I thought today I’d share with you a big source of frustration for me. In my never-ending quest to find new and interesting ways to throw away my hard earned money, I stumbled upon something I hadn’t tried yet: Facebook ads. After learning the system, I decided to give it a go. My mistake.

What is it?

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past three years, Facebook is a social networking site similar to Myspace, but with fewer pedophiles and a more segmented network. It’s fairly popular among us college-aged people, so it makes for some great targeted ad placements. That’s the theory anyway.

Oh yeah, the ads. Except for a few superficial differences, Facebook’s ad system is identical to Google’s Adwords system. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The ads are displayed mainly under the user’s navigation bar, so it’s hard to miss them (more on that later). Also, they let you tack on a small picture to your ad for added visibility. Overall, a pretty solid system.

Why it’s (supposed to be) great

Facebook users dump a ton of personal information into their profiles, which you can then use to target your advertisements to very specific groups of people. You can target by location, age, interests, gender, marital status, political affiliation, and more. Want to sell video games? Target males between the ages of 18 and 26 with ‘video games’ and ‘gaming’ tagged as interests in their public profile. Want to sell Luis Vuitton purses? Target sorority girls with ’shopping’ and ‘like, totally hanging out’ in their interests. It’s an advertising agency’s dream.

Why I hate it

Failed campaigns aside, let’s talk about Facebook’s major demographic here: My generation. The group that grew up with enormous banner ads, pop-ups, and other such annoyances in the late 90s. Essentially, we’re banner-blind. Our minds have become so used to seeing online advertisements that we simply tune them out. Facebook’s ad system had been out for months when I finally heard about it, and I had to go looking for the ads. I’d never even noticed them before.

My scorecard

Alright, let’s take a look at my failed attempts to use Facebook’s ad network:

Attempt 1: Protein powder

My first campaign was pushing protein powder at muscle-heads. I targeted the 18-28 age bracket, specifically males with ‘body building’ and ‘working out’ (among other keywords) in their profiles. 20,000 impressions and 0 clicks later, I pulled the ad.

Attempt 2: Weight-loss shakes

Yeah, I know. I’m a terrible person for preying on the insecurity of college-aged women. You know what though? I like money, and I have student loans to pay.

Again, I tightly focused the ad to only target single women ages 18-26. I also wrote the ad to include the phrase “Look great for spring break!” (taking advantage of the inevitable after-Thanksgiving nationwide weight gain). This ad got 0 impressions. Why? Because I stuck a picture of a bikini model in the ad and it was pulled for “sexually suggestive themes”. *Sigh*

Attempt 3: Mind drugs

There’s a fairly popular nutritional supplement among college students called Piracetam. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a (legal) man-made supplement used to increase memory and brain functions, kind of like ginko biloba. Anyway, I targeted this ad towards everybody ages 18-26. Again, it never saw the light of day. Facebook yanked it for “Unverified pharmaceutical claims”.

If you’re keeping score, that’s Facebook - 3. Geoff - 0.

The bottom line

Sure, it sounds great on the surface, but dig a little deeper and you’ll see a system that’s strict, expensive, and aimed at a generation that has been trained to loathe online advertising. Do yourself a favor and stick with Adwords.

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One Response to “You Can’t Get Rich With Facebook”

  1. Ryan Says:

    “Target sorority girls with ’shopping’ and ‘like, totally hanging out’ in their interests”

    Hehe. Well played.

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