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AdAge Survey Shows Slow Move Toward More Paid Facebook Advertising



adage facebook marketing 1When you talk to marketers, they often make Facebook sound like a necessary evil. Hardly anyone is thrilled with the format, the sudden changes in visibility or the ROI but the overwhelming majority still use Facebook to promote their business.

Ad Age and CITI conducted a survey of 701 marketers and media execs to find out what they thought about Facebook. They matched their January 2013 results to a survey from last June and found a rise in paid usage.

61% of those surveyed are now using Facebook advertising, that’s up from 55%. A slightly higher percentage said they plan to increase their Facebook ad budget either “modestly” or “significantly” in the coming year.

I’m not sure if that’s a vote of confidence, or an act of capitulation.

adage facebook marketing ROIWhen asked about ROI, the majority (46.7%) said they thought Facebook was about the same as other options such as Google and Yahoo. I’m very surprised by that response. We’ve seen report after report of big companies pulling their ads. But they must be working for someone if more marketers are buying ads this year.

One thing that doesn’t seem to be working is “sponsored stories.” 70% of those surveyed haven’t even tried them. Of those who did, 64% said they were “somewhat satisfied” with the results. That’s hardly a five-star testimonial.

Around 20% said they were either “somewhat” or “very dissatisfied”  – now that hurts.

Even still, 84% said they would use “sponsored stories” again which doesn’t make sense given the lack of enthusiasm about the response. Again, are we just throwing up our hands and saying, “why not?”

People are hopeful about the future of Facebook mobile. More than half of those surveyed said that the mobile app was an important part of their marketing strategy.

Facebook is still trying to find a balance between keeping users happy and keeping marketers happy. Maybe, they’re trying too hard. All Facebook is reporting yet another potential change in how ads display. Those with social context (you or your friends follow the brand) will appear just like any other post in your feed. Ads without social context will show up smaller. The idea is to quell complaints that ads take up too much room, particularly when you’re looking at a mobile feed.

I think this will leave Facebook users with a bad impression of some advertisers. A smaller ad basically says, this ad isn’t as important as the other ads in your feed. How is that fair? Will advertisers pay less if their ads appear in the smaller size?

I believe that part of the problem with measuring Facebook ROI is that they’re constantly changing the rules. Today your branded post is at the top of the feed, tomorrow it’s on a different page unless you pay and then it will be on the front page for some but hidden for others. It’s hard to know what you’re paying for and when you do get results, Facebook goes and changes the rules again.

Facebook needs to make a plan and stick to it. Then maybe more marketers would be willing to put their money on Facebook.

  • kevinjgallagher

    I find this disheartening concerning the conversion rates and success of Facebook advertising. Does no one have any other ideas ? Oh a billion people on Facebook they must want to buy stuff right?