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Facts, damn facts. Clickthrough Rates (CTRs) for Facebook Ads

Posted by Doug Garnett February - 2 - 2011 - Wednesday

Don’t you hate it when facts interfere with a good story? That must be the way Facebook feels today. Scoop is, somebody cared enough about where their money was going to take a hard look at the effectiveness of Facebook ads.

A dedicated Facebook user’s response just might be “Ads? They have ads on Facebook?”. (Yup, those clusters of 20 words or so that clutter the right hand side of the page – sometimes with microscopic images attached.)

And, that’s exactly the problem. We now learn that the clickthrough rate on Facebook ads is .051%. (Here is a summary of the study by Webtrends.) To be clear, that’s 5 one-hundredths of a percent. Or, one click through for every 2000 times your ad is displayed.

Heck, maybe this rate is pretty good since your ad is probably only noticed once out of every 1999 times it’s seen. But it is scary that this clickthrough rate is DOWN. That’s right, the click-through rate was an astronomical .063% in 2009.

And, there’s one more key concern. Facebook ads should be highly targeted – only put on pages of people whose profile indicate the ads should interest them. So your highly targeted ads have a click through rate of five-hundredths of a percent. Yikes.

A Serious Issue

A few years ago an article in Advertising Age noted that it used to be a measured fact that we’d see an average of 500 or so commercial messages in a day and remember one or two. But, we are now confronted with an average of 2500 (or more) messages a day of which…we still only remember one or two.

My analysis? New media has fragmented messages to the point where consumers don’t care about them or pay attention to them. Instead, we bombard consumers with millions of tiny attacks hoping, I suppose, to wear them down.

And that trains consumers to ignore us at higher and higher rates – like what has happened to Facebook.

Facebook’s Value Isn’t as Advertising

Internet advertising has proven extraordinarily weak at reaching out to people who aren’t already interested in your product. These numbers merely confirm what’s always been true elsewhere.

That doesn’t mean I think Facebook isn’t useful to advertisers. Instead, this indicates pretty clearly that advertising on Facebook conflicts with the reasons that we join Facebook as individuals.

At the same time, it’s all about price with this type of advertising. If you’re paying the right price for displaying your ad to 1999 people, then you’ve paid the right price for that 2000th who clicks. Maybe despite these miserable rates you can eke out a living with these Facebook ads.

But if you want your business to thrive, Facebook’s generally not the place to build it. To make big change happen, you need to leverage off-line advertising. Then once people know why they should seek you out, there’s a plethora of options for using the internet, retail, and other channels to lead consumers to purchase.

Copyright 2011 – Doug Garnett


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Doug Garnett, DRTV and Technology Industry Expert

Doug Garnett is founder and CEO of DRTV agency Atomic Direct and a leading expert on innovative uses of DRTV, infomercials and other in-depth TV and non-TV messages to build brand and drive sales.

Doug has been working in and around the technology field for 27 years. After starting in aerospace, he spent 5 years selling and marketing supercomputers. Since shifting to advertising, his clients have included AT&T, IBM, Apple, Disney Mobile, Ugobe, Presto, and Netpliance.

Doug sits on the editorial board of Response Magazine, is an adjunct professor of general advertising at Portland State University, and is a member of the Jordan-Whitney Greensheet Panel.

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