Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Advertising Adventure

A few years back I ran a small advertising campaign on Facebook and in an attempt to recover my business Facebook graciously gifted me USD50 of advertising credit. Unfortunately I didn't have any goods or services that I wanted to advertise just then so I figured that I'd have to get creative.

Unsurprisingly Facebook advertisements are boldly commercial and quite direct in what you will get out of clicking on them, part of this is inherent in commercial advertising but a large part of it is the Facebook Ads style guidelines and approval processes which help to minimise misleading adverts and the most egregious punctuation and spelling offences. For example looking at Facebook right now I see an advert that starts "Hair removal for MEN" and besides from the capitalisation problem the advert is well formed. It contains three more or less well structured sentences telling me what the product is, what it does and why I need it. This is a clear and direct message that probably works quite well. This advert is emblematic of the Facebook advertisement I see and they lead to easy to understand but blunt advertisements.

I was wondering what I could offer up that might be of use, interesting or at least amusing. I thought for a while and came up with a sort of mild anti-commercial. An advert that refuses to market at the viewer and does not event request any action from them. Perhaps something different enough that people will notice it and it give them pause, a respite from the marketing that bombards a modern consumer day and night.

This is what I came up with:
The title "This in not an advert" is a bit of a reference to RenĂ© Magritte's The Treachery of Images chosen because my advertisement is not really an advertisement but merely an image of one. The rest of the copy I just bashed out in an attempt to intrigue the reader and convince them that I was not selling anything. The link if you click on it takes you to which is basically the same thing. The advert was primarily designed to amuse me rather than to actually be a communication tool or even art and I think it has succeeded quite nicely.

When I submitted the advert I was briefly worried that it would not get approved but my worry was unfounded. The approval process is there to weed out the most egregious style violations as well as misleading and offensive material and so I was fine. The ad went live about an hour after submission and has been on it's merry way. I targeted the advert at people over 18 years of old that are in the country that I am currently living in (for an interesting comparison I'm going to remove that targeting after I post this) and I asked to be billed per impression rather than per click since I was not actively encouraging people to click on the advert. As I understand it, if you pay per click your click through rate becomes an active component of how often your ad is displayed. I chose the upper bounds of the recommended bid and set a maximum of USD1.04 for 1,000 views and a maximum of USD45 for the entire campaign (my voucher got diminished somewhat by taxes). After 10 days the advert has been viewed almost 80,000 times and clicked on 10 times for a total cost of USD25.83 and an average cost per 1000 impressions (CPM) of USD0.33.

Now I'm going to fiddle with the settings a little bit and see how that effects performance.

Update 4th January 2011: US$45 purchased 120,247 impressions and 30 clicks over about 17 days. CPM was USD0.37 and CPC was USD1.50. The CPC would probably be lower (and clicks higher) if the advert invited the user to click.  

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