I don’t know if you have given much thought to using Ads on Facebook. I really hadn’t, but got curious last week. We’re not using Facebook at Housing and Urban Development yet, so I thought of another way to test this capability. I put on one of my other hats: I serve on a non-profit board working to save/preserve an 18th century farm in my community and put together an ad on Facebook.
Creating an ad is extremely easy. There are three simple steps: 1) what is the title for the Ad? 2) What do you want to say (there’s a 135 character limit: Twitter skills useful here!) 3) What image do you want to use?, and 4) Where should someone be directed when they click on your advertisement?
This took me all of about 15 minutes to do. Anyone who clicks on the ad will be redirected to the non-profit’s website .
You pay with a credit card and can schedule when you want it to run, and what demographics to target (age, geography, key words, etc.), and give the ad run a “daily budget.” You can choose between paying by the click or by impressions (in thousands of impressions). You “bid” on what rate you’ll pay.
There are some rules regarding ad creation and some specific policies you have to follow. I don’t know how our use of this advertising would relate to the agreement being negotiated with Facebook, but so far I’m intrigued. I know we at HUD will spend a significant amount of money doing targeted advertising through traditional media, and I’ll have to see how this compares to those costs.
For this ad, I targeted all Facebook users over 18 living within 10 miles of Annapolis, Maryland. I chose the click-through rate and bid 50 cents per click. Had I chose impressions, the suggested bid for 1,000 impressions was about 38 cents per thousand.
I set this up on a Wednesday night around midnight, it was approved by Facebook (they review every ad before it can run) and the ad began running at 4:00 a.m. Thursday morning. By 8:00 a.m. the ad had been shown 2,500 times and 2 people clicked through to the Goshen Farm website. So, I had spent $1 so far to get two people to visit our website. My daily budget was $5 a day for the next 5 days, with the “Campaign” ending Monday night at midnight.
This morning, I logged in to see the results. Over the last five days, the ad was shown 78,398 times to people who live within 10 miles of Annapolis, Maryland. Had I chosen to pay per thousand impressions, the cost would have worked out to 38 cents per thousand. Fifty-five people clicked on the advertisement and visited my non-profit’s website, for a cost of 44 cents per click.
This might sound like a lot of effort to drive 55 visitors to our website. But, when you consider in five days we drove more than double the number of visitors to our site as we get in a normal month, I was pretty pleased. And, I know that the people who clicked on this advertisement were exactly who we were looking to attract: people living within 10 miles of Annapolis, who are over 18, and are interested in historic preservation. In addition, our message and organization name were shown on nearly 80,000 page loads. All in all, I feel pretty satisfied with the $25 this cost.
Only time will tell if we generate any additional interest for our cause with this experiment. But, I can definitely see some broader uses in the future. The targeting capability is extremely useful. Let’s say for instance, HUD were to establish a new program for Seniors: something like reverse mortgages. One of the avenues to get the message out could be to advertise on Facebook pages of all people in the United States over age 55.
You might try some experiments with Facebook advertising as well. I’d love to hear from anyone who’s tried this on a larger scale to see what the results were.
Guest Blog Post submitted by Sam Gallagher, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Departmental Web Manager.