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The TV Advertising Test

How Facebook could be ripping you off

Last year a friend of mine bragged, "Loj! I spent USD 800 on an advertisement that according to Facebook sold over USD 100,000 of our products in 30 days!" That sounds amazing, if only it were "true."

I've long advocated, "if you're going to post anything on Facebook, pay for it!" Facebook has made it brutally clear. If you don't boost your content with ad dollars, your content will rarely be seen. That said, spending money on Facebook advertising comes with an important caveat!

Without getting into the technical side of things, Facebook has a model for loosely connecting your dollars spent within its advertising platform to what it calls "total conversion value". It's called an attribution model.

In its purest form, if you pay for advertising on Facebook, they'll attribute that spend to a conversion value (ticket sold) in their ad reporting. Facebook's "last touch" attribution model is based on views (impressions) and clicks.

In their own words ...

"By default, Facebook Attribution selects a last touch model with a 1-day impression and 28-day click window. For example, if you were to select purchase as your conversion, and apply this default attribution model and attribution window, your reporting will reflect purchases that can be attributed by Facebook to the last ad click that happened within 28 days prior to purchase or the last ad impression that occurred within 1 day of purchase, whichever happened last."

Source: https://www.facebook.com/business/help/... (About attribution models)

In the 100K of products sold example above, my friend had selected a 28-day view (impression) as his last touch attribution. That means every time Facebook loaded an advertisement on their page (regardless of anyone actually seeing that advertisement), Facebook attributed those impressions to sales. Even if Facebook had zero influence on those sales!

Why am I telling you this? Because after carefully investing client money in Facebook advertisements with third party revenue tracking installed, Facebook's attribution model gives most people a false sense of success. As a result, Facebook is making a lot of money on people's lack of understanding and/or ignorance of their attribution model.

In some cases, Facebook takes credit for purchases it had little to no influence on. In one instance Facebook said it sold over USD 2,000 of event tickets based on a single advertisement.
According to third-party ad tracking software we installed, 44 USD of ticket sales could be attributed to the Facebook ad. That's on over USD 500 of advertising spend and not a good return on investment. Fortunately we stopped the USD 1,000 budgeted ad before any more money was lost.

The takeaway of the day is the following. If you're going to advertise on Facebook make sure you're very familiar with their attribution models. Always look with a critical eye and ask questions. Last but not least, instead of looking at pure "conversion value" consider other ways to measure success.

You Must Play the Game Differently
If you want to take advantage of social media, you have to play the game differently. What follows are the most common social media marketing mistakes to avoid and simple corrections you can use. The suggestions apply to any social media platform. Click below and dive on in to the 5-Part Social Media Series:

  1. Putting Your Social Media Mindset Ahead of Theirs

  2. Focusing Too Much on Likes & Followers

  3. Trying to Engage on Too Many Social Media Platforms

  4. Avoiding Paid Social Media Advertising

  5. Not Measuring the Results of Your Hard Work