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Many advertisers are increasingly making room in their budgets for Facebook ads, but over the years, there's been a lot of talk about the general ineffectiveness of them compared to say, Google AdWords.

One of the obvious challenges with Facebook ads is that it is a social network. Unlike search, which lends itself to ads targeted to a particular search query, the site is generally being used as a tool of leisure.

That makes creating ads that stand out difficult.

Recently, one Facebook advertiser observed that an ad containing a picture of beer delivered its best CTR. In fact, it performed 57% better than any other ad tried.

Beer, of course, didn't have anything to do with this advertiser's business, but beer, for obvious reasons, seemed like a good way to grab attention.

So FeeFighters, a company that helps businesses obtain better rates on merchant accounts, decided to replicate the beer experiment.

The result: close to 396,000 impressions of the beer ad delivered just over 1,250 clicks. With a .018% CTR, this beer ad was one of the best performing ads for FeeFighters.

But, as you may have expected, those clicks didn't exactly translate into action. In fact, only one of those 1,250 clicks actually produced a conversion, which entails setting up a free auction in which merchant account providers compete for business. "That means our CPA for the beer ad was …$1951. Ouch," FeeFighters' Stella Fayman wrote.

None of this, of course, is really surprising. Associating an image of beer with an ad that really has nothing to do with beer would logically produce clicks, but not conversions. But there are several important facts this experiment highlights:

  • Facebook ads realistically aren't suitable for all advertisers. Despite the targeting capabilities Facebook offers, some ads simply aren't going to produce ROI.
  • In an environment where intent isn't naturally present, like Facebook, the techniques you use to increase CTR can have a (very) harmful impact on conversions. But without those techniques, Facebook advertising can be hard to scale even though Facebook has hundreds of millions of users.
  • Facebook isn't always cheap. On a per-click basis, Facebook ads might not cost as much as their AdWords counterparts, but an ill-conceived campaign can be costly.
Patricio Robles

Published 21 July, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2378 more posts from this author

Comments (9)

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Jake

I think beer is in the wheel house of many people who are active on Facebook. The demographics are perfect.

about 5 years ago

Adrian Bold

Adrian Bold, Director at Bold Internet Ltd

Nice review of an interesting experiment.

Of course, most advertisers just won't have the budget to do this kind of test so it's great you've created this article to share the results.

about 5 years ago

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Ivor Morgan

Ummm 396,000 impressions and just over 1,250 clicks gives 0.316% CTR surely.

Which is about average for Facebook.

And the low level of conversion (one) is the result of what we all already know - sloppy targeting causes floppy conversion rates.

about 5 years ago

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Jordan McClements

I'm going to try this on all my Google Display Network image ads from now on (just to be sure)... :-)

(The direct ROI on them couldn't get much worse anyway! :-)

about 5 years ago

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aprillins

what wasteful money to spend of! Advertisers who read this will think twice to place their ads on Facebook I think.

But, there is a question. What about landing a bad landing page which lead no conversion?

about 5 years ago

Guy Harvey

Guy Harvey, Marketing Consultant - Social Media and Media Relations at Human Factors International

Wow they figured Facebook is mainly a consumer audience and their audience is business owners. Geniuses.

about 5 years ago

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Tomás de Teresa

Maybe Facebook CPC is lower than AdWords, but these results don´t seem very profitable for most businesses. Regards!

almost 5 years ago

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Pau

I think it is obvious that a beer can increase the number of clicks that an ad receives, because beer is an image that attracts us, but if it has nothing to do with the product or service we offer, will get no clients

almost 5 years ago

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Pau

I think it is obvious that a beer can increase the number of clicks that an ad receives, because beer is an image that attracts us, but if it has nothing to do with the product or service we offer, will get no clients

almost 5 years ago

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