Though online advertising platforms such as Facebook generate traffic, these channels also raise concerns. As more businesses and advertisers use Facebook, the shift to mainstream social advertisement will likely result in larger problems for Internet marketing and the small- and medium-sized businesses that bank on its traffic stream.
Let’s look back and investigate the growth and development of most online advertising platforms to create a better picture on the future of Facebook Advertising.
In The Beginning
In 2000, Google launched AdWords. It offered a step forward in innovation designed for reasonably priced online marketing.
Internet marketers and advertisers quickly adopted AdWords due to its simplicity and ease of use. They found a faster way to generate website traffic. It had few limitations, no Quality Score rules, and no rules against affiliates. So it was easier for them to make profit.
There was a point when Google developed its own affiliate network. And opportunities opened between the affiliate network and AdWords.
AdWords grew with time. It gained new features that refined targeting and conversion tracking. The tweaking and fine-tuning led to easier tracking of ROI on advertisements. But with every new feature comes a new rule and limitation. Affiliate marketers realized that Google’s position toward affiliates changed. They could feel the company tightening its grip over them – and not for the better.
Early last year, Google completely folded its affiliate network. Affiliate marketers think that the company saw it as a threat to its main source of revenue and standard mode of operation.
Google now recommends publishers to make good use of the amount presented by AdSense as opposed to the revenue figures offered by advertisers to affiliates. It is a way for the company to act in the best interest of raising profits after the affiliate network shut down.
With the ability to earn up to 70 percent or higher for commission on various products and services, the dead affiliate network does not compare to Google’s new stance.
A Change In Stance
Google now has tighter rules on affiliate campaigns that use AdWords. Marketers and advertisers have to take extra steps and more effort before they could relish the gains. Take note that AdWords works and is effective. But it presents some challenges that require careful consideration and attention.
Any individual or firm with the interest of using AdWords for affiliate marketing has to start with the guidelines. The Google AdWords website lists a comprehensive page of rules and regulations intended for affiliate marketers. And every listed item limits the business that affiliates can do on the platform.
Affiliate marketers that use AdWords are prohibited from doing the following:
1. Simultaneously show ads with another affiliate who uses the same display domain or URL.
2. Have ads for data entry affiliate programs.
3. Link to a page on the affiliate marketer’s site as a part of a conversion funnel that leads to the affiliate landing page.
4. Have a direct link to the offer page as part of the URL rule.
5. Use the exact copy provided by the publisher. This is known as the anti-mirroring rule.
The anti-mirroring rule means affiliate marketers who will use AdWords to drive paid traffic need the following:
1. A newly fleshed-out site that covers the niche without copying the publisher.
2. A conversion funnel with at least one extra step that leads to publisher page.
3. The will to handle the stress of contending your stance if Google suspends your account.
In addition, AdWords is now harder and costlier to use than ever before, as people continue to spend more money on the platform.
An Alarming Development
Now we have set up the stage for online advertising. Though Google AdWords is not equal to Facebook Ads, the latter is following the same trend as the former. Facebook used to offer a platform where it’s easy to draw attention and to get clicks with low competition. But it’s now filled with advertisers and advertisements in just about all niches.
Facebook has set limitations to the type of ads and ad content on its advertising platform. Some advertisers have gone through ad rejections for reasons as trivial as the ratio between textual content and images. Then there are snags inherent to Facebook.
The Difficulties of Facebook Advertising
Facebook is a social platform that has audiences with minds set on a goal: to connect and engage with family, friends, and colleagues. The least of them is to come across any type of marketing or advertising. But there are some exceptions.
If Facebook users “Like” or engage with a page, they most likely want something beneficial in return. Imagine how many times a Facebook user has “Liked” a page to receive a discount, coupon, or sales price, or to take part in a contest. Facebook users tend to “Like” pages offering products or services they want.
This social side of reciprocation also shows up in other parts of social media marketing.
1. Privacy Concerns
Privacy issues bog down social media marketing. Regulatory bodies, consumer watchdogs, and users have real concerns about what online companies do to their personal information. So even well-targeted ads may cause anxiety or annoyance among users.
When emotions run high, people have a propensity to censure ads. They will click the “Report as spam” button even for valid advertisements.
2. Ad Blindness
A more common end of the scale is the people tired of the endless salvo of advertisements. This group of users will snub all ensuing ads.
Though ad blindness is common across all platforms, it’s most commonly found in social media, in which people focus on conversations and interactions.
The main focus of attention is the connections people have, brushing off most ads. It adds more difficulty for a social media marketer to stand out. And this blows out of proportion when getting people to take action. The aftermath of futile Facebook ads is the added challenge and costlier campaign to still use Facebook to make profit.
One more factor under Facebook ad blindness is the layout. The Facebook News Feed presents information in neat columns, making it easier for users to focus on scrolling down in the feed. This layout allows them to snub the sidebar with ads.
This neglect of the sidebar is truer on flimsy Facebook ads. It will not draw their attention, or they will turn a blind eye to it. Then they will continue with their routine.
Earlier this year, Facebook redesigned the layout to address the issue. It relocated the feed above the ads. Marketers and analyst said Facebook deliberately did it to direct the attention of users to the right sidebar, a widely overlooked column in the News Feed.
3. Audience Participation
Again, Facebook is a social platform. When an advertiser runs a successful Facebook ad, the ad often is aimed at the advertiser’s target audiences. The target audiences are the fans who have an interest in the brand or in the niche. They expect to connect and engage with the advertiser’s page and the ensuing posts.
Generating sales on Facebook often needs an in-depth funnel. It uses social media to revive stale prospects until they become hot leads ready to purchase goods from the advertiser. And hot leads have to be nurtured from social media to the website, from the website to the list, and from the list to a sale.The whole process consumes time and does not assure constant positive results. Some of the targeted audiences will opt to connect and engage with the brand without making a purchase. But this is better than wooing the wrong fan. Time and money are valuable resources for an advertiser. So it’s best to ensure a high probability of sales conversion with a social media marketing plan.
A Social Media Marketing Plan
A social media marketing plan passes through stages of the funnel to make a sale:
1. Brand Awareness
Make people aware of the brand through an encouraging, constructive, and valuable way for the target audience. For example, for an advertiser in the healthy eating niche, brand awareness could mean status updates about healthy recipes, reviews about the local grocery or public market, or images of food labels to spark conversations.
Advocacy makes social media smart, captivating, and viral. Fans and staunch supporters can share the page to their friends who may also turn into fans. But this needs constant attention. The marketer has to meet effectively the needs of advocates and make them feel that the brand is trustworthy and worthwhile. Or else, a single mistake may render useless all the hard work and diligence. So meet their expectations.
3. Fan Engagement
Create a well-engaged audience made up of staunch fans by making them trust the brand. Some of them will eventually lead to converted sales. It means to rekindle emotions and to invoke interest in discussions through entertaining posts. Or find ways to spur a regular conversation. After building a well-established community of engaged fans, start focusing on sales conversion.
4. Sales Conversion
Finally, all eyes are now on the selling stage. But take note that sales conversion may come way down the line, with the first sale arriving months later. To have a constant flow of sales, continue to work hard atop the funnel. And keep fans engaged to generate more brand advocates.
The Future of Social Media Marketing
Marketers who look for easier ways to grow traffic and gain traction ASAP cannot afford to get stuck with the difficulties posed by AdWords and Facebook advertising. And social media marketing needs them to follow fickle steps that may lead to their downfall.
All of these qualms play up a crucial challenge: If organic traffic from Google’s search algorithm is unreliable, if it’s hard to promote effective affiliate offers via AdWords, if it’s difficult to gain quick, scalable traffic from Facebook advertising or social media marketing, where will a marketer turn to?