Posts tagged ‘facebook’

Unpacking The Horrific Math of Facebook Advertising

Adweek is reporting on a study by Webtrends that shows that the performance of advertising on Facebook, which was astonishingly bad in 2009, has gotten worse in 2010. The average click-through rate has fallen from .063% to .051%.

Let’s think about what that means. To get a single person to click on a Facebook ad, 2,000 people must be exposed to it. If all 500 million people on Facebook were exposed to an ad, it would net just 250,000 clicks. Put another way, if your ad were seen by a group of people the size of the combined population of the United States and Brazil, it would be clicked on by a group the size of the population of Chandler, Arizona.

Webtrends’ study covered 11,000 ad campaigns and 4.5 billion impressions. All together, 4.5 billion impressions generates a total of only 2.25 million clicks. That’s not much to spread around among all the brands clamoring to advertise on Facebook. In fact, when you divide this number up among the 11,000 ad campaigns, each one averages an embarrassing 205 clicks. I don’t know of too many brands–or for that matter too many corner dry cleaners–for whom this type of performance is acceptable.

Yes, yes, of course, Mark Zuckerberg and his pals will protest that click-throughs aren’t important on Facebook. They’ll tell you brands benefit from Facebook’s “social value,” not its ability to drive traffic. I give them full marks for this, if only because it must be extraordinarily difficult to say such things without giggling when they know that ad spending on Facebook is projected at $2.19 billion in 2011.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying Facebook is completely without value for brands, but I am saying advertising on Facebook is damned close to it. Agencies that want to deliver value to their clients have an obligation to go beyond ads. They have to think harder and invent ways to be genuinely engaging. Forsman & Bodenfors in Gothenburg, Sweden did it brilliantly for IKEA, leveraging the basic photo tagging feature of Facebook in a way no one had ever thought of before. Presumably, clients who can do small amounts of math will demand comparable thinking.

Photograph © Jason McELweenie


February 2, 2011 at 2:22 am Leave a comment

Will Baby Boomers kill Facebook? Will Facebook kill them back?

Deborah Rogers, professor of English at the University of Maine, shares some provocative thoughts about Facebook in “I poke dead people: The paradox of Facebook”  on The Times (i.e., of London) Higher Education website. One of the things she wonders about is the likelihood that the arrival of droves of overweight bleached blondes in mom jeans and dorky forty-something white guys will devalue the digital real estate. When they start showing up on Facebook, the cool kids say “there goes the neighborhood,” and look for a new place to hang. Even if that doesn’t happen, Rogers is fairly confident that the curious form of interaction on social networks will make us somehow less human. She sees evidence of this in how Facebook deals with, among other things, death. Below are a  few choice quotations to whet your appetite:

Even as it facilitates our ability to connect, the collective social-networking culture changes our way of thinking about everything from friendship to death. And not in a good way. As a technological medium that fetishises individualism, Facebook invites disaster.

*     *     *     *     *

Facebook redefines what it means to connect to each other and provides a huge audience for self-absorption. Nothing is insignificant. Everyone wants to know everything about us, all the time. In the minutiae that mark the triteness of an inherently boring everyday life, we may recognise our own situation. Facebook’s fixation on individualism makes ordinary people feel important enough to warrant such attention – or inconsequential enough to need to document every aspect of their existence. The trope for this exhibitionism may be outing ourselves – and everyone we know.

*      *     *     *     *

…the medium fails to allay our sense of despair and loneliness. For example, several months ago, Paul Zolezzi, an aspiring actor and model, hanged himself on the monkey bars in a Brooklyn playground. He had posted his suicide note on Facebook, where he said that he was “born in San Francisco, became a shooting star over everywhere, and ended his life in Brooklyn … And couldn’t have asked for more.” On Facebook, even suicide notes sound flippant. In fact, apparently assuming Zolezzi was joking, a friend commented on his Facebook page: “Are you dying? Or just staying in Brooklyn?”

July 16, 2009 at 9:08 pm Leave a comment

Is conspicuous consumption being replaced by conspicuous expression?

I’m not sure I’m buying their argument in its entirety, but Stephen Linaweaver, Brad Bate and Michael Keating have written a provocative post on GOOD, “Conspicuous, but not Consuming,” that certainly merits discussion. Their theory is that social networks are filling the hole left in our lives by our inability to buy as much stuff as we used to. The lads write:

…”conspicuous consumption’ is being replaced by “conspicuous expression” as the driver of identity. This new paradigm emphasizes the conspicuousness of ideas, interests, and opinions rather than accumulating more stuff than your neighbor. This is not insignificant. How billions choose to distinguish themselves from one another will be just as important to global sustainability as how they power their homes, what they eat, and how they commute to work, making online social networking a critical “leapfrog” technology in the developing world and a surprisingly powerful source of behavioral change in the developed world.

Are Facebook and Twitter the medicine that will cure our addiction to acquiring things? Let’s wait a bit before we draw that as a final conclusion. An enormous preponderance of the self-expression on social networks winds up like the proverbial tree that falls in the forest. Not a sound is made. Nor am I certain that 65-inch HD TVs will lose their allure because people will choose instead to forsake them and turn to the fleeting rewards of digital egotism. Nevertheless, in the short term at least, it does seem as if many are amusing themselves in a down economy by taking refuge in the social networks and doing what Ken Kesey used to refer to as “starring in their own movies.”

July 8, 2009 at 4:02 pm 1 comment

Facebook app developers are getting rich and you’re not. Neither is Facebook.

You may have seen it reported yesterday that the pallid, painfully thin man-boys developing Facebook apps in their mildewed geek caves may very well make more money than Facebook itself in 2009. $500 million is a figure that has been bandied about. That this is even possible is yet another testament to the fact that Mark Zuckerberg cannot manage his way out of a wet paper bag. But let us not expend our energies kicking Mr. Zuckerberg in the stomach. Plenty of time for that later. Instead, let’s take a look at exactly what sort of Facebook apps we’re talking about.

TechCrunch has posted a story and lovely video that explains all.  Examine them and then tear at your flesh with your bare hands in anguish that you did not come up with the ideas first.

May 21, 2009 at 4:21 am Leave a comment

A Facebook Haggadah, a Twitter Passion Play and the Beginning of the Post-Absurdist Era

Last week someone sent me the story of Passover as explained by Facebook. It was intended to be amusing, and I suppose it succeeded in a limited way. There are status updates from Elijah on his tipsiness, a list of “25 things you don’t know about me” by God, etc. I gave it a quick glance and then didn’t think much more about it. Then today I read in the Telegraph of London that Trinity Church, the oldest Church in New York (which also occupies the oldest building in New York) has used Twitter to tell the story of the Passion 140 characters at a time. This was not an attempt at comedy. The church was trying to connect with young people by using new technology to tell an ancient story that is one of the cornerstones of Judeo-Christian civilization.

My immediate thought upon reading this was that absurdist expression is no longer possible. Satire and gospel have become indistinguishable. How can we reduce the central mythology of western civilizaton to a handful of Tweets? How can we not do it if we want the mythology to remain relevant to people whose attention spans are measured in fractions of a second? What’s more, if the most sacred texts of a civilization cannot resist being rendered by technology not to paragraphs or sentences but to mere utterances, what chance does the lowly advertising business have to cling to any form of articulate communication in the coming years?

In a documentary made to promote Monty Python’s Life of Brian, John Cleese ridiculed American Terry Gilliam’s limited vocabulary. Cleese claimed there were only two possible responses from Gilliam regardless of the stimulus to which he was exposed: “Hey man, I really like that” or “hey man, that really pisses me off.” Is this where our use of language is headed? Does it create a business opportunity to start “the next thing” after Twitter–something that reduces all human expression to either “like it” or “pisses me off”? Are indecipherable grunts and dumb shows the next (or last) stops on this ever-narrowing road? 

I am worried, not as an advertising professional but as a human being. Advertisers can and will concoct a new semiotic system to sell floor wax without verbs. What I’m less confident of is the next generation’s ability to squeeze Ulysses from an eyedropper.

April 12, 2009 at 4:47 am 5 comments

Increase your productivity. Screw around on Facebook and YouTube at work.

Techdirt reports that people who access sites like Facebook and YouTube at work are actually more productive than their co-workers who don’t. This has something to do with our need for occasional mental breaks or some such. 

This being the case, I invite you to send your personal productivity through the roof by watching this very strange video of Andy Kaufman appearing on the David Letterman show on June 24th 1980. Had Kaufman lived, his videos could have single-handedly powered the global economy out of this recession without breaking a sweat. We shall not see his like again.

April 3, 2009 at 2:26 am Leave a comment

Want to visualize your Facebook network? Admit it, you’ve got nothing better to do.

Bernie Hogan has come up with a nifty little application that will create network matrices of your friends on Facebook. Kind of a nice way to visualize the circles, rhombuses and trapezoids in which you move.

Once you’ve created your matrices, the next logical step is to figure out why you don’t have more friends. Fortunately, there’s an article in the Economist that will answer the question and more or less  absolve you from responsibility. (It’s your brain’s fault.)

Actually, this is all pretty good stuff for marketers to know in an age where more and more we will be counting on consumers to spread the word about our brands.

March 15, 2009 at 1:08 am Leave a comment

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