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Facebook is having a bad month.
On top of a system-wide error that erased payment methods on an undisclosed number of ad accounts, this week Facebook reported additional inaccuracies with their ad reporting metrics. This isn’t the first time Facebook has reported miscalculated ad metrics. In September 2016, Facebook disclosed issues with their video stats. On top of this, Facebook also recently predicted that ad revenue would flatten in the middle of 2017.
What does this mean for their growing ads customer base? Below I highlight Facebook’s biggest challenges leading up to 2017, and a few pointers for social media marketers and business owners.
Ad Metrics, Customer Service, and Declining Ad Revenue; Get it Together, Facebook
2016 hasn’t been the best year for the king of social networks, until you look at the bottom line. In 2015, digital ad spending grew 20 percent year-over-year, and Facebook cashed in on the shifting advertising paradigm. The social network makes between $1.77 per user (in Asia-Pacific) and $14.34 per user (U.S. and Canada) in advertising revenue. When you consider that as of Q3 2016 Facebook has 1.79 billion monthly active users, that’s a lot of dough. In fact, the company generated $5.64 billion in ad revenue in the Q4 2015. Of course they’re doing everything they can to ramp up advertising.
While the financials look great, the fast growth of Facebook Ads is painful to experience—I mean excruciating—because of four separate issues.
Facebook’s #1 Issue: Metric Reporting
Seeing as this has been a hot-button issue for a while now, it’s the number one problem for Zuck to solve. While the issue in September revolved around video views, the latest ad metric disparity includes exaggerated reach of four different measurements.
“The company publicly disclosed on Wednesday that a comprehensive internal metrics audit found that discrepancies, or “bugs,” led to the undercounting or overcounting of four measurements, including the weekly and monthly reach of marketers’ posts, the number of full video views and time spent with publishers’ Instant Articles.” – Wall Street Journal
Thankfully, the latest round of wrong metrics has pushed Facebook to provide an “additional independent review,” as well as taking steps to hire third-party assistance with measurement and accurate reporting. Additionally, the social network said it has plans to form a Measurement Council made of ad agency execs and heavy-lifting marketers.
Facebook Issue #2: Decline in Ad Revenue
Facebook recently warned us that ad revenue growth could slow down in 2017. To put it bluntly, they’re running out of space to put your ads. Facebook set a limit to how many ads can be shown in a person’s newsfeed, and predicts it will hit that limit in mid-2017.
Makes sense; you don’t want to overwhelm people with advertisements. Hannah Kuchler from the Financial Times reports that some options for Facebook to counteract this self-set limit would include:
- An increase in ad prices
- New ad formats
- Improving ads
- Increasing ad spend outside of North America
- Opening up another Facebook family app like Instagram
Facebook Issue #3: Lack of Customer Service
One of the biggest complaints of social media managers or social media marketers is the unreliability of Business Manager and Ads Manager. There is no direct help line to call, no representative who can assist you with questions, and they only respond to questions via email and (when it works) chat. If you have a client emergency and need something fixed within 24 hours, you’re pretty much SOL.
Facebook Ads Issue #4: Inconsistency with Business Manager
Business Manager and Ads Manager are wonderful, useful, and high-tech management systems. The problem is that things break, very easily. While they continually and frequently make updates (You can now create ads on mobile!) they still haven’t solved the core bugs and problems experienced by all social media managers; i.e. random ad blocking, account lock-outs, payment problems, etc.
Should You Be Worried About Advertising on Facebook?
In one word, no. Yes, Facebook’s having a lot of issues, but they’re growing so INCREDIBLY quickly, they’re bound to have some growing pains. It’s unthinkable to actually expect there to not be any fuss or errors. Plus, one thing’s not changing: the amount of people regularly joining the social channel.
Here’s the thing; despite all these issues, if you create a really good ad, targeted with the right message and at the right people, it’s going to be successful. Our suggestions to weather the storm:
- Put more money into the content of the ads and less into distribution. You can spend $100K on distributing an ad and get the same results as spending $50K if you don’t invest in the quality of the image, crafted message, and audience.
- Get your ads done early. Create your content calendar at least a month in advance, and get them set up in Ads Manager. That way, if you do have issues, you have time to wait on a customer service representative to email you back.
- Re-measure and cross-reference your metrics. We implement additional tag parameters so we can cross-reference any and all Facebook metrics. That way, we have a broader picture of everything in our landscape.
Blue Corona + Facebook Advertising = ❤
I love Facebook (insert image of Tom Cruise jumping on a couch). Despite its faults, it’s such an amazing, revenue-driving tool that so many businesses don’t recognize. It’s becoming the preferred customer service hub, and don’t get me started on the amount of social psychology that goes into social media marketing on Facebook; it’s enough to make any psych major geek out for hours.
Point being, it’s a staple in our (and your customers’) world, and to ignore that fact is like pretending SEO doesn’t work. Yes, it has bumps, but I don’t see that drastically changing the trend to advertise Facebook and other social network sites. If you need someone to help you navigate the social media waters, contact us! We’ll give you a free social media analysis, plus you get to chat with me!
About The Author: Betsy is Blue Corona's in-house Digital Marketing Specialist. When she’s not directing Blue Corona's corporate digital content campaigns she’s urban exploring with her wife, diving into the latest marketing trends, or teaching horseback riding lessons. Twitter: @educatedbets
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