Saturday, June 14, 2014

Does Facebook Advertising have an impact?

Well the simple answer appears to be 'yes' BUT then again maybe the question should be 'Does Facebook advertising offer good value?' - that's a whole different perspective.

Facebook has changed the way it uses it's advertising algorithm, supposedly improving it for the advertiser but I am not at all convinced this is the case.

In the interests of research I decided to try out this new look algorithm, here's the story and the results so you can make up your own mind.

Firstly, the process of actually creating the adverts was very simple which is a real plus. I even created six different picture representations to identify which worked best. As the advert was designed for both my books I selected a mixed audience; Fated Encounters targeting the Mills & Boon group whilst Russian Redemption was sent to the followers of Dan Brown, Steig Larrson and the likes. I was looking for website clicks so I figured that $15 a day for a seven day trial would cover most bases - press submit.

Seven days later I am left with more questions than answers.

Facebook tells me that 

'Website Clicks' being interpreted as people that actually clicked on the link to take them to my website homepage.

I noted the website counter before I submitted the advert (1460) and again right now (1521). Remembering that I have probably added two website clicks a day just checking on progress, this represents a fairly big mathematical anomaly - 1460 plus 152 should equal 1712?! Puzzled by this inconsistency I went to my Googleanalytics for clarity. Unsurprisingly Googleanalytics confirmed the number of homepage visitors over the life of the adverts 

So, there has been a definite increase in people seemingly visiting my website but no where near the numbers that Facebook were declaring - and charging for.

But then I noticed something else; the 'bounce rate'. This is the percentage of visitors that visit the home page only. My website is designed, built and maintained by me so it's nothing particularly special but, in my opinion, it's ok (have a look, see what you think There is enough on the homepage to hold a visitors attention for a minute or two, and probably enough to encourage people to visit another page or two. Yet Googleanalytics reports thus:

In this snap shot of US Visitors you'll note that all clicked through to the homepage BUT didn't visit any other pages and spent long enough on the homepage to see and read NOTHING! Not even long enough to register a single second of 'session time' - this is in stark contrast to the historical data.

You can make up your own mind of course but for me I can report the following findings;

1. Facebook are charging me for a large number of 'website clicks' that have never happened.
2. Those actual 'website clicks' that made it through to the homepage were so quick they didn't even register a session time - this (to me) smarts of computerised cheating.
3. Any money paid to Facebook for an advertising campaign is in fact a waste of much needed dollars.

As for actual sales - nope, not a one.

I'm half inclined to kick up a fuss with Facebook but my instincts tell me that it will be a complete waste of time - much like their advertising!

At the end of the day it was an experiment for information gathering purposes, and in that it has been a success - but that's the only way it can be construed as successful so be warned.

Keep writing - if you're good enough, one day people will notice you.


  1. Don't know if the "No Comments" meant you wanted none . . . or had just not yet received any . . .
    I did want to let you know how much I appreciate the careful research you've done here -- and although not the outcome you'd have hoped for, it does provide some invaluable insights and information.

    Also, remind yourself that the challenge of getting "noticed" is pretty much a universal one, and your advice to "keep writing" is sound :-)

    One thing I can offer now, though, is entry to the library and academic institution e-book catalogues. Give me a call if you want more info.

    Warm regards

    1. Hi Judi - Great distribution channels, congrats - we'll talk this evening. Thanks

  2. Great experiment andrew. I've been considering FB ads recently, but your results deter me. I'm shocked at the results. I'd be curious to see what FB say if you called them out on it.

    1. Hi Louisa - Yes it was disappointing for many reasons, but at least I know the data collated is accurate. I spoke with a fellow author that took FB to task last year, the e nd result was that they shut her FB page! Must be run by the same people that run Amazon - "Our way or NO way :-) "