July 30, 2014

Facebook PPC Is So Dumb

Three men are walking down the beach and come upon a tarnished bronze lamp. After wiping off the sand with a t-shirt a genie emerges and grants each of the men 1 wish.

The first man wishes that he started Microsoft, so Bill disappears in a puff of smoke to Redmond, WA.

The next man wishes that he founded Google, so Sergei disappears in a puff of smoke to Mountain View, CA.

The third man was a humble PPC manager. After pondering a moment, he wished that Facebook PPC would be smart enough to serve ads not only on demographic information set by the advertiser, but also incorporate user feedback.

The genie just laughed and said, “Hey, I’m a genie, not Mark Zuckerberg.”

User Feedback

Last year, the most popular post on this blog was my rant – Why I Hate Facebook PPC Ads: A User’s Perspective. Basically, I rail on the fact that despite marking ads as “Uninteresting” or “Offensive” or “Repetitive”, Facebook still shows the same ads.

In the comments several people gave recommendations on how to improve the ads I saw. The suggestions talked about how I needed to “Like” more things or fill out my profile more so that Facebook would have a better idea of what to show me. While I agree with these suggestions (and even followed them as an experiment) the bigger point here is that I flat out told Facebook I wasn’t interested in certain ads and they still served ads from the same advertisers, to the same sites, for the same services.

Facebook PPC Is Dumb

Dumb
Definition: lacking intelligence or good judgment; stupid; dull-witted (Dictionary.com)

Here is a screenshot of ads I saw on Monday, January 3rd, 2011:
Facebook Dating Ads
As you can see, Facebook is still showing me dating ads. A full 5-pack of them. So I did what I always do and gave them all the “X” for being “Uninteresting”:
Confirmation Messages
As you can see, Facebook thanks me and then lies to me. Behold the ads I saw the next day, January 4th, 2011:
Facebook Dating Ads
Two ads from ChristianMingle.com on Monday, two ads from ChristianMingle.com on Tuesday. Ad from Smartdate.com on Monday, ad from Smartdate.com on Tuesday. At least they swapped out RealMatureSingles.com & BlackPeopleMeet.com for True.com. That’s obviously way more relevant.

Why Advertisers Should Be @#!*% Too

This problem isn’t just something that annoys users. If you’re an advertiser bidding on a CPM basis, this is terrible because you’re paying to show ads to someone who has said they aren’t interested (multiple times in my case). If you bid on a CPC basis, this hurts your CTR. Not mad yet?

User feedback is double opt-in feedback. Not only do users click the “X” but they also select a radio button with a reason. That’s double opt-in confirmation that users don’t want to see your ad, yet Facebook keeps showing it over and over.

Am I crazy? Has anyone else thought this might be an issue?

In the words of Andre below, “You are so dumb. You are really dumb. For real…”

About Robert

Conversion rate optimization and PPC wizard. If I'm not out playing ultimate frisbee or golf you may find me hiking, skiing or mountain biking.

Comments

  1. I totally understand your post, and it’s a good one. From a user’s point of view, it really can be improved. I had a period of about 6 months, where I saw the same ad everyday on my profile. He was targetting PPC + SEO groups, and selling links. I think I clicked the cross like 12 times …

    Problem is, at the moment you can rate the ad, but not the advertiser.

    The user’s issue, is that you see an ad from an advertiser you don’t wanna see (dating, poker, whatever -the product actually annoys you). for that reason, you click the cross. For Facebook, all you did was to say “this ad I just saw, was crap”. There is nothing there about the product, or the brand.

    The advertiser’s issue is that you want to optimise your ads. You actually *want* that user data telling you that they took the time to say your ad sucked, you can learn from it.

    >> I think a good in-between, would be to say that if a user has clicked the cross, let’s say twice, then the advertiser cannot reach that user anymore for, let’s say 90 days. Because you might not be interested in dating now… but maybe in 3 months you’ll be very desperate to join…
    I also think there should be a capping per user per day or week. All the display advertising platforms do it, so Facebook should too if they want to be taken seriously.

    My 2 cents :)

  2. @Eloi – Great point about the feedback being ad-level, not necessarily advertiser-level. And I think you suggest a very plausible solution where Facebook could set a threshold where after 2 or 3 “X”s the advertiser’s ads don’t show for that user.

    Frequency capping would also be a huge improvement. AdWords remarketing has it baked in, so why doesn’t Facebook? Especially when you consider how many page views Facebook users are racking up.

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