Practical Ecommerce

The PEC Review: Facebook Pay-Per-Click Ads

There may be a positive relationship between ecommerce spending and social network participation.

Internet trend tracking firm comScore recently reported that Facebook and Twitter users spend more money online than non-socialites, and that some 23 percent of Twitter users follow businesses, buy goods online, and look for product reviews.

The comScore data, released during the company’s “State of the U.S. Online Retail Economy in Q1 2010” webinar, also reported that as users invest more time on Facebook their propensity to spend on online retail also increases. This is very good news for ecommerce marketers, since Facebook has an easy-to-use and targeted pay-per-click (PPC) advertising service that can place ads in front of the users who are most likely to buy.

In fact, I think that Facebook’s PPC program is so good that I am awarding it four-and-a-half out of a possible five stars in this “The PEC Review.”

“The PEC Review” is my weekly column aimed at introducing you to the products or services that I believe may help you improve your ecommerce business. This week, let me explain why I think you should be investing a significant portion of your PPC marketing budget in Facebook.

Video: Try Facebook PPC

Lower Cost

Facebook’s PPC service may save ecommerce marketers money in two ways.

First, from my own (admittedly anecdotal) experience with the service, I believe that its average cost per click is relatively low. In fact, of the several PPC campaigns that I run for my own online stores, Facebook had the lowest cost per click.

Second, the ads, which include a graphic, are analogous to Internet display advertising, which may have a lasting effect on brand perception. As a form of display advertising, Facebook and other social media sites generally outperform the alternatives, according to comScore.

Facebook PPC ads look like display ads.

Facebook PPC ads look like display ads.

Thus, Facebook PPC may be less expensive than other PPC programs and other display ad solutions.

Rifle-like Targeting

The Facebook PPC program is built around user data, not keywords; so advertisers can select a target audience based on sex, age, marital status, education, group membership, and interests.

Screen capture showing the demographic filter on Facebook's PPC program.

Screen capture showing the demographic filter on Facebook’s PPC program.

In this way, advertisers can devise rifle-accurate promotional campaigns that focus on generating high quality site traffic. Put another way, Facebook can generate traffic that is very likely to convert.

Tons of Impressions

Facebook can also deliver a significant number of impressions very quickly. The service has more than 400 million members worldwide, many of whom spend an hour or more on the site each and every day. As a result, don’t be surprised if Facebook produces millions of ad impressions in no time at all.

Usability

Facebook’s PPC service is also very easy to use. Paste a target URL into the system’s “Create an Ad” tool, and it will propose ad copy and images based on page content. Advertisers can also create their own ads from the ground up.

Four-and-a-half stars

Four-and-a-half stars

Once ads are approved, Facebook offers adequate tracking data, and bills the advertiser every couple of days. Campaigns budgets can be set so you’ll know exactly what you’re spending.

Summing Up

Facebook’s intuitive PPC solution is cost effective, targeted, and easy to use. The service will help online marketers boost brand awareness, generate site traffic, and make sales. This is why I have awarded Facebook’s PPC service four-and-a-half out of a possible five stars in this “The PEC Review.”

Armando Roggio

Armando Roggio

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  1. Louis Camassa July 12, 2010 Reply

    Armando-I have yet to see results from a variety of different PPC campaigns through Facebook. Although the cost is low, and impressions are high (for some campaigns), the sales conversions are almost non-existent. Although, I have seen a few businesses use a Facebook PPC campaign to drive "likes" to their Facebook profile.

    Also, I personally haven’t seen many big-box brands advertising on Facebook. I’d be interested to hear from those that are driving sales conversion with Facebook ads, and their strategy for doing so (and what they are selling).

  2. Paul Chaney July 12, 2010 Reply

    I concur with Louis’ estimation. I, too, have seen little success in terms of conversions. However, that could be due to lack of targeting, the amount I chose to spend, or the offer itself. I believe their use is valid for two reasons, it’s dirt cheap and you get laser-target your audience. Oh, and you can see from start-to-finish the results of your efforts. While Facebook Ads may not bring tremendous results, because of the above-mentioned reasons, they fail within the category of "might as well use them."

  3. Armando Roggio July 13, 2010 Reply

    Louis and Paul, for my own personal campaigns, Facebook is converting better than any other PPC network. In fact, We had our first sale less than five minutes after our ad was approved.

  4. Louis Camassa July 14, 2010 Reply

    Armando-what is the product/service you are selling?

  5. Steve @Erraticblog July 14, 2010 Reply

    I’ve been hesitant on trying the FB ads because I see comments like the first two above by Louis and Paul. Also because the ads I always see are really tacky and I’ve never clicked on one.
    However, with comments like Armando’s I think I might go ahead and give it a try.
    I’m sure the conversions directly relate to the audience your targeting. With the demographic I’m in I would think conversions would stink. But my ecomm site targets young and middle aged women. They might convert really well with the ads.

  6. Steve @Erraticblog July 14, 2010 Reply

    BTW, the video showing above is not for Facebook PPC ads… it’s for making a background. I’d love to see the correct video if this page gets updated.

    _Editor’s Note: Very sorry, Erratic, about the mistake. The correct video is now embedded in the piece. Thank you for pointing out our error._

  7. Steve @Erraticblog July 14, 2010 Reply

    Thanks for updating the video Armando, great review.

  8. Adam Worwood July 15, 2010 Reply

    We ran a sale over the July 4th holiday weekend and as an experiment I tried out Facebook ads for the first time. We received 70 clicks out of 200,000 impressions on the first day of the sale. These clicks resulted in 0 sales. 65 of the clicks resulted in bounces (gone in 5 seconds or less) and the other 5 spent less than an average of 20 seconds on the site. This trend continued until the end of our sale.

    Our usual conversion rate rests around 7%.

    I am still not convinced of the viability of Facebook Ads for making sales, however, I can certainly see its usefulness for building brand awareness.

  9. PaulDArcy July 15, 2010 Reply

    Unfortunately, I too have had less than stellar results from my Facebook ventures. We can generate thousands of well targeted impressions and hundred of clicks on those impressions -but no matter how we tweak and twist -we can’t seem to get them to convert well enough to make it worth our while.

    I have hope that it will improve, but for now we are spending more time on research rather than throwing our money away on non-converting ad campaigns.

    Best,
    ~Paul

  10. Paul Chaney July 15, 2010 Reply

    It strikes me that I left off a vital piece of information in my previous comment. That is, you can lead horses to water, but you can’t make them drink…unless, you have an enticing landing page waiting for them when they arrive.

    In the case of ecommerce merchants, I would guess they are leading visitors to a product listing of some type. In my view, you have to think of each page as a landing page, no differently than you would your dot com site. And, I think we have to view Facebook Ads in the same respect as we would any other form of PPC advertising.

    When you use Adwords, for example, do you tie your ad to a specific offer? Does the verbiage in the ad, albeit pithy, convey the same message visitors see when they arrive on the page?

    Admittedly, I need to take my own advice. And I wonder if, in doing so, it whether it would be worth the effort.

    Armando, you indicated you experienced positive results. Perhaps you could provide us with more specifics as to how you achieved those. There has to be both art and science at work here, and yours might be a model others could emulate, including me.

  11. Sanford February 25, 2014 Reply

    I’m sure Facebook will never have the same reach as google does in terms of selling products, but to utilise Facebook for what it is good at – connecting people