Why Facebook Ads Matter More Than Ever

By Adam Lichtenstein The consensus of late is that Facebook Ads are a waste. One catalyst was GM’s $10M ad spend renegging practically minutes before Facebook’s IPO. The media construed this to mean GM may have known something we didn’t. This sparked more questions over the platform’s capabilities for effective advertising. Large corporations have spent tons of money, accumulated a bevvy of data points, and still can’t see a correlation to customer spending habits. Basically, a ‘Like’ isn’t guaranteeing a sale, but that doesn’t mean the system is broken.

If I have seen your blockbuster ads on TV, Radio, etc I’m not going to notice when you show a 100 x 100 px box on the side of my screen. For the big boys I want promos during the Superbowl, guerilla marketing campaigns in big cities, and other major efforts.

So who should be advertising on Facebook? Literally everyone else. This is a small business’ dream. The local paper may go to everyone in town, but how can you be sure they’ll read your 1/2 page spread? Same with TV or radio, but with Facebook you can target only the people who are ideal potential customers. Besides just targeting, the ad budget is used at your pace. Here users can send ads to who they want and only when they want to.

Here are 2 examples:

A family restaurant is looking to attract more business. Off the bat, they target only those people who live within 10 miles. Now let’s assume they have a page with about 100 fans; Facebook Ads allows them to target those people who are friends with these fans. -- In 2 steps the clutter is cut. These ads will go directly to locals, who will see a recommendation for the restaurant via their friend already liking the page - it's a digital word of mouth referral.

Now that same restaurant wants to increase late night traffic, get the drinkers drinking. So they promote a post, perhaps a picture of one of their ‘famous’ cocktails. This time they target by age; sending ads only to locals older than 21, but young enough to be up for late night fun. Not only is this ad ‘hyper targeted’, but it can be sent whenever the restaurant chooses; like on a Friday at 6 PM when the work week is over. This is something traditional mediums could never do.

Does any of this guarantee sales? No and neither do traditional mediums. But more than anything this allows you to speak directly to consumers - eliminating the hard sell, which is counterintuitive to a small business model. Here companies can nurture relationships with customers, thus ensuring repeat business.

Also, advertising for ‘Likes’ can be just as valuable as a sale. As your page grows, so does the amount of exposure for the business. Getting 100 page ‘Likes’ may not mean 100 sales, but it could mean 25 sales and engagement with locals who haven’t previously heard of your business. And checking for a ROI has never been easier with Facebook’s Conversion Tracking system for ads. With the recent updates, users get real time results on ad effectiveness (clicks, page views, etc), allowing for updates and analysis in real time.

To be necessarily bleak - there is no sure bet in advertising. But the best gamble is one where you can manipulate the variables. Facebook Ads allow you to take control, unlike with traditional advertising with it’s restrictions and regulations. Every ad is an opportunity to speak directly to a small, selected group of people who might actually care about what you have to say.

Finally, the addition of Graph Search means more consumers will start using Facebook like they do Google. That means having a small business page has never been more advantageous. More than business solutions, more ads means more money for Facebook, thus giving the entire platform validity. Be on the lookout for digital marketers to start changing their tune on Facebook Ads during 2013.

Do you think Facebook Ads are still relevant for small business?