Sorry for using the word beef. 

Lots of people had a beef with Google for years and many still do. The company continued to make money for its advertisers. SEOs had a begrudging respect for the platform that was their entire world. It was sort of a joke to anyone looking in from outside. 

Although it doesn’t provide advertisers such a neat way to capitalise on intent, I get the feeling that Facebook is incredibly good value for reaching audiences.

That’s not based on fact, merely because I know nothing guarantees a backlash like wild success. QED.

Just look at Facebook’s revenue from advertising.

facebook revenue

Anyway, I thought I’d do some digging around to represent both sides of the Facebook argument.

On the one side, advertisers that are reaching targeted audiences, finding local users who might download an app, promoting content and driving traffic to their websites. On the other, those that believe Facebook isn’t all that. 

Then you can make up your own mind. 

In favour of Facebook

Active user base

Facebook has the most active user base of the major social networks. A GWI Social report showed that in the second half of 2013, 95% of Facebook users logged in at least once a week. 

social network usage 

Clicks and CTR are up

Kenshoo has reported big increases in impressions, clicks and CTR from Q3 2013 to Q4. Impressions and clicks are expected to be up during the busy holiday quarter, but CTR and CPC still look promising.

facebook ads click through 

Adobe reports similar goodness for Q1 2014 (year on year).

adobe social

Facebook refers more traffic than any social network

Shareaholic reported referral traffic from social networks to 200,000 sites in the last months of 2013 and Facebook comprehensively topped the list.

social referral

Mobile app ads are flying 

Mobile App Ads are estimated to have generated more than 145m downloads in 2013.

What’s more, deep linking allows Facebook advertisers to engage users that have already downloaded an app, to keep engagement up.

facebook mobile app ads

Summer lovin'

Facebook showed it can deliver clicks in the summer months, traditionally a time when media formats such as TV find it more difficult to perform for advertisers. 

facebook seasonality 

Jon Myers of Marin hints that Facebook ads and advertisers are getting better at targeting users due to the fact that ad impressions decreased in 2013 but clicks and CTR increased. 

facebook seasonality

Time spent in app

Facebook is dominating mobile app usage, as this chart from Flurry shows. 

time in app

Plus Gary Vaynerchuk is a massive fan.

And the beef?

Well, it’s the other side of the same coin. As the platform succeeds with advertising, it becomes harder to game it without paying.

Organic posts don’t stretch as far (although the top 1% of pages still reach 82% of their audience). 

Longer term, we’ll have to keep an eye on usage of the network. Google isn’t about to be usurped by DuckDuckGo, whereas new social networks are pulling active users from Facebook (which fell by 3% in the second half of 2013).

Let me know what camp you're in.

Ben Davis

Published 12 September, 2014 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (4)

Edwyn Raine

Edwyn Raine, Digital Strategist at Evolution 7

I have no issue with Facebook directly, but I feel their business model is fundamentally floored in many ways. As more people join the network, current users like more pages and connect with more "friends"- newsfeed space quickly runs out. This is the driver for lower organic reach more than the increase in advertising. However, advertising will always get priority over organic reach, so users notice this disruptive ads and get irritated.

On the other-side, as people like more and more pages due to advertising, the targeting becomes potentially less accurate for future advertisers. For example, people "like" Nike, are noway near as sports relevant as they would have been in the early days of the profile - page audiences have become diluted.

I presume this is why they are pushing for more data driven advertising - remarketing, custom audiences and customer lookalikes. They are in no risk currently, as they have the data and audience to use, but they must keep innovating their service to keep everyone happy.

almost 4 years ago



Why is it always about CTR and Clicks when it comes to understanding how good a network is performing.

Where is the good data like Brand Metrics, Purchase Metrics.

What good is a Duck Picture on a Page Selling Phones despite massive CTR and Engagement.

Despite high bounce rates, Google Search works esp. for Established brands (same as FB). But for new brands or would be startups, FB should come much much later in the customer journey. It's usually the first.

almost 4 years ago



I definitely think it's true that now there is a much lower organic reach, and that the feed has become so cluttered with ads. Also a very good observation that it still absolutely has the biggest base of users, but some CEO's do have a begrudging look from the outside looking in. Here are some tips we wrote about how to get your social media audience to promote your product:

Jon Weirman, A and M Entertainment

almost 4 years ago


Sean Work

It would be nice to see more recent data in those graphs. I "feel" at lot has changed this year in terms of Facebook marketing. Post reach for pages has dropped significantly and a lot of people I know are just not as active on it as much as they used to be. Can't wait to see this years' numbers :)

almost 4 years ago

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