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Is Facebook the Next Big Kahuna in Advertising?
By: Anamika Pande Ved
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As a social media aficionado, I am on Facebook practically every day, but not once have I clicked on the ads sitting on my Facebook wall, clamoring for my attention.
Does that mean Facebook ads don’t work? Marketers seem to be clearly divided in their opinions on the effectiveness of Facebook ads. Without getting into the value judgment of whether it works or not, let's skim through the ongoing debate, provoked by General Motors’ decision to stop advertising on Facebook.
Facebook ads work: Some marketers claim that Facebook ads work well compared to other forms of online advertising. Facebook ads, they say, are here to stay, since everyone is using them and they get much higher returns. According to these marketers, there are millions of Facebook users out there and people are clicking on the ads. CTR is relatively high on the site and the ads are a fantastic way to develop fans. Facebook ads work great, especially for CPG brands and products with lower purchase decision times. It is perhaps because of these advocates of Facebook advertising that just from the ad sales, Facebook makes $1 billion per quarter.
Facebook ads don’t work: The other line of thought professed by marketers is that paid Facebook ads don’t have a big impact on consumers and are a waste of money. Consumers they say don’t purchase products based on Facebook ads. They claim that Facebook is useful for keeping a BRAND in the public eye, but it doesn't drive SALES as effectively as traditional media (including flyers, magazines, and newspapers). In many cases, people have ad blockers and they don’t even look at the ads. They opine that any smart businessperson knows that paid advertising on Facebook and other social media is unnecessary when EVERYONE can create pages for FREE. Many marketers prefer to skip this FB channel, as it does not show hard cash ROI (Return On Investment). ROI for Facebook is measured in “fans,” “likes,” or “engagement” (defined as “comments received, likes received, $1 coupons requested). So Facebook is looked upon as the ultimate provider of "shareability," but not as a tool to meet the ROI expectations of the brands.
Look at both sides of the argument, and it's easy to conclude that Facebook ads are one of the many marketing levers. They can generate interest and deliver results only if the companies hone their social media presences to reach the consumers. Advertising through Facebook can work if it is not looked upon as an amorphous thing. It requires proper shape and presentation to attract the audience.
When used on Facebook, ads cannot be monologues. Facebook ads need to be in the form of a dialogue. The 2011 A.T. Kearney Social Media Study showed that 27 out of 48 companies didn’t respond to a single customer reply on Facebook. Brands need to give the potential new customer a reason to try the service and existing customers a reason to stay loyal to the company.
Users have become savvier to online marketing in general and unreasonable demands on users to "like this" and "like that" can disenchant or disinterest them from the brand. The ads need to give the customers some incentive to click.

Facebook might not be useful when it comes to direct selling, but it can be effectively put to use for raising brand awareness, promoting particular campaigns, and providing customer service.
Facebook ads need to correlate with content on Facebook and be relevant; otherwise, people won’t pay attention to them. For instance, if people whose Facebook profiles say they have a Master’s degree get ad-bombed with educational opportunities to pursue undergraduate degrees, the ads won’t work.
While delivering targeted advertising, companies need to preserve consumer privacy. Consumers should not feel that the companies are lifting data from their profiles to target them. To gain the consumer's trust, the ads have to protect identifiable information and keep data anonymous.
Again, advertising on Facebook is not for everyone. Different kinds of businesses are better suited to different platforms. For instance, toilet-paper brands flashing on Facebook are an ultimate example of brands hopping on the bandwagon and are a complete turn-off for customers.
In short, there is no single metric to prove that Facebook ads work, but they could have a powerful influence on purchase decisions if they are tweaked and adapted to work for each company.


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About the Author
Anamika Pande Ved is a blogger, content curator, and content writer with Global Washington, a non-profit in Seattle, Washington. She is fascinated by commercials, more so if they are used for "social good." She is an avid traveler, reader, and a singer. Find her on Twitter here anamikaved15@gmail.com
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