9 Suggested Improvements for Facebook's Ad Platform

This is a guest post by Mike Volpe, VP of Inbound Marketing at HubSpot.
I have been advertising on Facebook for a while, and have done a number of other forms of online advertising over the years. Currently, the big advantage Facebook has is the cost per click rates are still very low so you can get traffic at a lower cost than Google AdWords or many other sources. I have found that if you target the people and ads appropriately, you can get Facebook traffic to convert at about 2/3 the rate of AdWords, which given the much lower (5-7 times lower) cost per click, means the leads are still cheaper.

But, all that aside, I got an email from a product manager asking for feedback on their advertising software and features. First, I think it is funny they emailed, rather than sending a message on Facebook. Second, I think it is funny that they emailed my company at our main info@ email address, rather than my personal address. Facebook knows more about me than most people, so you would think they would be able to figure out how to contact me directly.

Anyway, I thought rather than just email him back, I would blog about it, that way maybe other people will weigh in and provide more input. A side benefit is that my personal blog might get a bit of additional traffic. 🙂

Top Improvements for Facebook Advertising Software

  1. Conversion tracking within Facebook – Sometime ads direct people to become a fan of something on Facebook or sign up for an event on Facebook. But there is no way to know how many people who clicked on the ad took the intended action. Facebook has all the data, and it is shameful they cannot provide a report that shows out of all the people that actually became a fan or RSVP’d to an event out of those who clicked on the ad.
  2. Daily spend – For some reason, there is a person at Facebook that manually decides how much you can spend each day – sort of like a credit limit, except there is no credit. Once in a while you get a message saying “your daily spend has been increased from $100 to $200” or something. I guess I don’t understand why they would limit what I can spend as long as my credit card is still working. This is just annoying.
  3. Demographic click data – With Google AdWords, you can measure click through rates by keyword. With Facebook, I advertise based on demographics and interests – not keywords – so I should be able to get click through rates by those metrics. Do more men or women click on my ad? What is the click through rate by age? This type of data would help me increase my click through rates a lot – by splitting out the ads and targeting different demographics with specific ads after starting with a generic ad and seeing the response – and therefore make more money for both Facebook and myself. (PS – Google knows enough about their audience that they could actually share similar data and let you target not only by keyword, but also by gender and other info, but for now they are not making this accessible in AdWords. But they should…)
  4. Targeting / audience changes over time – Over time, Facebook adds groups or interests areas that you can target with ads. For instance, when you start an ad, you may be able to target people with the interest “online marketing” but the interest “blog marketing” might not exist yet. Then in a couple months, you create a new ad, and now there are enough people interested in “blog marketing” and you can target them, so you add that interest to the audience for the new ad. But there is no way to update your old ads, except to remember the interests that have been added and add them to your ads… manually… one by one.
  5. Some ad attributes should be campaign level, not ad level – Facebook ads are designed to be a lot of individual units, but it makes more sense to have certain attributes managed at a group or campaign level, such as who you are targeting and per click bids. This allows you to more quickly edit and create ads. The more ads you can create and test, the higher your click through rate can be because of the optimization. This is similar to how Google Adwords works with campaigns, ad groups and then ads. Their structure is overly complicated I think, but Facebook could do one level and add a lot of value.
  6. Comparative data and benchmarking – One of the big questions marketers ask is “how am I doing compared to others?” Facebook ad click through rates are really low, and I’d like to know how my click through rate compares to other advertisers (similar to me) on Facebook. Is my 0.03% CTR good or bad? Advertisers could opt-in to provide this info, and I think a lot of them would. You would not share individual data, just aggregate metrics.
  7. Managing/editing ads in groups/campaigns – You should be able to update certain characteristics of ads in a batch or group mode. For instance, the cost per click bid, the interest areas / audience you are targeting, and maybe even the graphic and other things should be able to be edited for a number of ads at the same time. Right now you can organize ads into campaigns, but beyond a couple reporting features, I can’t find any real advantage for doing that – especially in terms of creating or editing ads.
  8. Billing and Invoicing – The only receipt you can get from Facebook is a single receipt per day, which means for your monthly expense report you have to click on and print 30 receipts individually. Yuck. Can’t you make it easier for me to expense my ad spending? How about a monthly summary? I can get the monthly list of charges, but it does not say it was changed to my credit card, so most finance groups (mine included) won’t accept it. Plus, if you are a business spending more than a little bit of money on Facebook ads, you probably want to get invoiced and not billed to a credit card. Invoicing is possible if you talk to a human, but if you are spending more than a couple thousand dollars per month, you should be able to just request it online.
  9. Shared account access – Like any business tool, you should be able to have multiple people log in and access the account and share the data and usage. Google AdWords allows for this, and Facebook should too. There is no reason why my advertising account should have anything to do with my personal profile, except for just login/verification.

To summarize, the fundamental two issues with Facebook’s advertising software are (1) it is too difficult to create LOTS of ads and test them against each other and (2) it is made for an individual person, not a business.

Do you advertise on Facebook? What would you like to see them improve?

Mike Volpe (@mvolpe) is VP of Inbound Marketing at HubSpot, an Internet marketing software company, where he leads the company’s lead generation and branding strategy through inbound marketing, including blogging, search engine optimization, social media, landing pages and analytics. He is also a co-host of the weekly live marketing podcast HubSpot TV and maintains a personal blog at www.MikeVolpe.com.

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