Advertisers are wasting money on ads to gain Facebook likes, says BBC report
Some traditional marketers have long been sceptical of the potential of Facebook ads and Likes. Today, a report from BBC tech correspondent Rory Cellan Jones suggests that companies may indeed be wasting their money on Facebook ads, and having their egos inflated by spam Likes that will provide no boost to business.
It is worrying news for Facebook, which is preparing to release their first figures since IPO later this month. The story comes on the heels of other reports questioning the value of advertising on Facebook. Last month we published a story that said some marketers had concluded that advertising on Facebook wasn’t necessary.
According to the report:
“The BBC has been contacted by one marketing consultant who has warned clients to be wary of their value, and carried out an experiment that backed up his concerns.”
The report also rightly points out:
“Earlier this year Facebook revealed that about 5-6% of its 901 million users might be fake – representing up to 54 million profiles.”
To be fair to Facebook, that is still rather a lot of real people for brand to engage with. Indeed, it seems that the particular marketer who complained to the BBC was simply not designing and targeting adverts properly, the real advantage of Facebook ads, and subsequently ended up with countless fake accounts Liking the brands he was representing.
Having run Facebook adverts for clients, I know that properly designed ads can indeed be successful if targeted properly.Nonetheless, spam is always an issue when it comes to online marketing. It is why marketing departments really have to start worrying about quality of online engagement, not quantity of ‘Likes’, or indeed followers.
As part of looking into this issue, the BBC created a fake company called ‘Virtual Bagel’:
“The number of “likes” it attracted from Egypt and the Philippines was out of proportion to other countries targeted such as the US and UK.
One Cairo-based fan called himself Ahmed Ronaldo and claimed to work at Real Madrid.”
Other marketing executives got in touch with BBC to also say they had seen little evidence of a substantial ROI on Facebook advertising.
In response to Cellan Jones’ report, Facebook responded:
“We’ve not seen evidence of a significant problem. Neither has it been raised by the many advertisers who are enjoying positive results from using Facebook.
All of these companies have access to Facebook’s analytics which allow them to see the identities of people who have liked their pages, yet this has not been flagged as an issue.
A very small percentage of users do open accounts using pseudonyms but this is against our rules and we use automated systems as well as user reports to help us detect them.”
Ads are a critical revenue stream for Facebook, and a growing feat that Facebook ads are not helpful to brands, particularly smaller ones, would be very damning for the company. Facebook are also desperately looking into how to bring similar ads onto mobile platforms, critical now that it is a public company.