In a recent Bloomberg Business article, Ron Amram, a 20 year brand marketing vet currently with Heineken USA, recounts how the world once thought that digital advertising would be a game-changer for marketers, much like social advertising has become through Facebook. For Rob, while a TV campaign was like “carpet bombing” and practically guaranteed results, it did nothing to solve “that age old question: half of my marketing is working and half of it is not, and I don’t know which half.”
So when digital search and display advertising came along, people thought it would change all of that. The thinking was that digital would provide bulls-eye precision on a carpet bombing scale. And more than that, people were expecting it to solve the issue of knowing where your advertising dollar was going. But neither of those things has necessarily been true. Amram goes on to recount how his company, while expecting massive returns on digital advertising in 2013, found that digital’s return on investment was a mere 2 to 1, compared to 6 to 1 for TV. Even more alarming was that only 20% of the campaign’s ad impressions (ads that appear on someone’s screen, whether desktop or mobile) were seen by real people. In other words, they had largely been paying to advertise to a fake audience (or automated computers). This is in direct contrast to the Facebook platform, where advertisers only pay when ads are seen by real human-beings.
The reality is that in the digital world, you’re paying for your ad to be served with no guarantee who will see it, or that whoever does see it will be human. Fake traffic created by software and malware can account for a large portion of your advertising budget, and it costed advertisers an estimated $6.3 billion in the last year alone. Another veteran ad executive, Bob Hoffman, described digital advertising like this: “I can think of nothing that has done more harm to the internet than ad tech.” He goes on to say that “probably about 50 percent of what you’re spending online is being stolen from you.” This is because most traffic sources, and certainly most cheap ones, are selling you traffic generated by bots. Again, you’re spending to advertise to a fake audience.
So what’s the answer? Is this just an advertising medium you should avoid? Certainly not! However, it does bring truth to the old saying, “you get what you pay for.” And that’s exactly what Bloomberg recommends: If advertisers want all human traffic, they should go direct to the publisher and pay more. Enter Facebook. Facebook traffic is real people and will be money well spent as it enables you to achieve real, actionable return on investment. It also answers the initial question that people had hoped digital advertising would address: 1) it allows you to carpet bomb your audience with bulls-eye precision with its advanced targeting capabilities, and 2) you finally know exactly where your advertising dollars are going, down to the last penny.
If you want a real audience, and real ROI, turning to Facebook advertising is the answer for today’s brands.