Strange stats that make me rethink Facebook ads
One of my favorite advertising platforms has always been Facebook. In fact the only platform I use consistently and I spend several thousand dollars a year on Facebook ads.
Though there are many ways to run Facebook ads the one I use most often is retargeting. What I do is put a retargeting pixel on this blog so that anyone who visits gets added to my retargeting list. Then I make a post to my fan page (which I only have for advertising) and boost the post to my retargeting list. The idea being that people who see my ad will be more likely to click, since they visited my blog, so I know they are interested in my niche.
This was working well for quite a while, however lately I have noticed some odd stats on all my new posts:
The largest portion of my clicks from these retargeted / boosted posts are coming from Malaysia. Nearly 17% are coming from there. When you include Indonesia, Philippines, Thialand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Pakistan, we are now accounting for over 54% of my post clicks.
Now there is nothing wrong with people from these countries however these countries are not my target market and frankly are not the primary countries I’m trying to reach. Whats really strange here though is that these ads are retargeting ads. They are suppose to be getting shown to my retargeting list, which is made up of people who visit my audience. However the vast majority of my site visitors are not from any of these countries.
According to Google Analytic over 47% of my site visitors are from the USA. When you include the rest of my primary target countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, they combined account for over 66% of my site visitors. In fact Malaysia is reported as accounting for only about 2.6% of my site visitors.
So there seems to be a paradox here. The vast majority of my site visitors come from my target countries. My Facebook ads are suppose to be getting shown to only my site visitors. But most of the results from my Facebook ads are from non targeted traffic which seems to make up a small percentage of my site visitors. This is not what is expected. Since most of my traffic is coming from the USA, I would expect most of my Facebook ads would be getting clicked from people in the USA. The opposite is happening though.
There are a couple of possibilities:
1) The Google Analytic reporting is wrong and most of my site traffic is really coming from Malaysia. This is unlikely but possible.
2) Facebook is not showing my ads to my actual site traffic
3) All my site traffic is getting shown my ads, but only people from Malaysia and other non target countries are clicking them This seems unlikely since many of my ads are freebie giveaways, bonuses etc. Also there is no reason why USA, UK, Australian people would disproportionately see my ads but not click them.
4) Facebook is showing my ad more to people in non targeted countries, knowing that people in these countries are more likely to click, in order to make my ad appear to be getting more clicks or to be able to inflate my ad cost.
5) Facebooks retargeting is not working correctly and people the USA, UK, Austrailia are not correctly being added to my retargeting list (this again seems unlikely)
I’m not sure which, or if any of these are the cause of my ad trouble, however the critique in me tends to think that #4 is the most likely cause. One thing I know for sure though is that my boosted posts are no longer getting me the results that I want. They are not being clicked by my target audience and my ad dollars with them have been largely wasted lately.
So about 3 weeks ago I decided to completely change the way I do ads:
What I have been doing now is combining videos with ads. I have been posting video posts to my fan page. The video has a call to action in it and the text of the post has a link where I want people to go to (normally to this blog).
After making this post I can then go into the normal Facebook ad creator and create an ad targeted by location and interest to show boost this post to (as opposed to clicking the boost button in the ad)
Doing it this way I can specifically tell Facebook what countries I want to show my ad to and ensure that its only being seen by my target audience. The results have been quite good. With only a small ad spend I have been getting a lot of video views. In fact each video view (people who watch the video for at least 10 seconds) is only costing me about 2 cents.
Also a strong percentage of the people who viewed my video ended up clicking the link in the post (about 30%). In this particular ad I got about 200 people to click my link for just under an $11 ad spend. This of course is going to vary depending on the quality of the video, and specifically the call to action in the video.
Moving forward I think I will be using these kinds of targeted video ads a lot more and will most likely not be using my blog retargting list much if at all. The video ads seem to perform better actually and allow me to show my ad to the locations I want with a lot more effectiveness. The only downside is that, the way I was doing the boosted posts a like on the post would also like the article on my website and this way that does not happen. However likes are secondary, what I primarily want is to get my message to my target audience. Boosting posts to my site visitor retargeting list does not seem to be doing this effectively anymore. However video ads do appear to be much better at it and that is what I’m going to be focusing on moving forward.
Does this mean retargeting is no longer viable? Not at all. Retargeting is something that works for a lot of business’s large and small and I’m not saying anyone should write off retargeting. What I will say is that for me, retargeting my site visitors does not seem to be getting the expected results. My ad seems to be getting shown to and clicked by only a small minority of my site visitors from a non target portion of my site traffic. For me, video ads are working better, at least at the moment, and I feel they are something worth exploring.
The real moral of the story is, always watch your stats, and adjust accordingly. What was working well last month might not be the best option this month. The internet, marketing, and Facebook are all fast paced environments and you need to make sure your always doing the best thing you can, right now, to get the most bang for your buck.