Posts Tagged "ads"


We’ve been running Twitter ads. Interestingly, they seem to do the best out of all the ads. We’re able to target them well, we have a specific message, and we’re happy with the number of clicks and engagements. This sounds like success.

But something interesting about human behavior has popped up. People unhappy about having ads in their feed tweet back something angry or grumpy. Oddly, their tweet makes it seem like they are not angry that they’re looking at an ad. They seem to try to find something they don’t like or can’t believe about our company, and publicly tweet THAT.

What Is The Point?

What is the point of doing that? Is it to publicly shame us for running Twitter ads?

The last guy who did that tweeted a mistake in the mobile responsive phone version of our website that is only on the home page. It made me wonder what sort of person takes the time to see a Twitter ad, follow the link to the website, screen shot it, and publicly tweet a claim that our website isn’t mobile responsive at all. It is completely mobile responsive with different phone and tablet versions. We had a mistake on the home page, which has since been fixed.

That seems like a rather aggressive move for a guy who saw a Twitter ad, especially to claim that our site isn’t mobile responsive at all.

Even stranger is that when I pulled up his website on my tablet, his home page had a similar mistake. I guess it’s common in mobile responsive design to have a mistake like this at one or more breakpoints.

People in glass houses, as they say. And perhaps this last guy noticed that since his tweet seems to have been deleted.

Is It All Good PR?

I wonder if grumpy people tweeting grumpy things at us helps us. That last guy has 446 followers. They might see a grumpy tweet and check us out wondering who this guy is talking to or about.

So… thanks! (?)

Twitter Is A Conversation

When I see an insane ad on Facebook or any website, I have no way to immediately connect with the person or company who wrote the ad and privately or publicly pick on them for something the ad said, something I don’t like about them, or something I’m not sure about in their ad copy.

We’ve also run Facebook ads that have been seen by tens of thousands of people. We never received a private message or even a post on our Facebook page wall from someone who had something to say in response to our ad.

We HAVE seen LinkedIn ads go wrong (and blogged about it) when a sponsored post got some hateful replies. In that case, some of the responses were grumpy about the company or their pricing. Some of the responses were just that they were tired of seeing the same ad so often from a company they already knew they didn’t like.

Twitter is a public conversation. If people want to respond to our ads, sure go ahead! I would prefer responses with questions rather than strange accusations or false statements about our company. Is it even legal to publicly tweet false statements about our company?

Twitter Ads Work For Us

So far, Twitter is where we get the most immediate responses to seeing our ads. A few have been grumpy. But all responses are from people I would want to be targeting. We see a lot of follows, retweets, and some favorite-ing of our (ad) tweets.

This tells me that for us, Twitter ads work. They reach the people we want to reach.

Contrast this with Facebook. When we run ads, the people who then “like” our company page appear to be fake accounts. I check them out. They appear to not be in the US and have nothing to do with UX, design, product, or any of the areas I would like to target. That gets us nowhere, and feels like a waste of money.

Our LinkedIn ads got some nice immediate responses, though they were mostly from people who wanted to work for us. Nice to tuck away for the future just in case, but I was hoping the ad would reach people who might hire us!

So far this year, we’ve spent about $500 on Twitter ads.

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We’ve spent just under 42 cents per “engagement” with someone on Twitter. Compare this with the $6 per click LinkedIn and Google Adwords tends to want, and this feels like a pretty cost effective way to get a message out.

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I apologise that it accidentally looks like “pick on one company in particular” week, but this was too interesting to not mention.

This was in my LinkedIn news feed Sunday (2 days ago) after lunch. I was being fed it because one of my LinkedIn connections commented on it.

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The guy I know posted a rather negative comment. I didn’t feel like I saw a lot of negative, unhappy commenting around LinkedIn, so I decided to read all 69 comments on the ad. Here are some with names blurred.

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I didn’t cut and paste those together. That’s 6 unhappy comments in a row. And more interestingly, look at the dates of when they were left. 6 months ago. 5 months ago. But there are newer unhappy comments as well.

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That’s always a great UX question.

Why DO you need all my contact details to show me a demo video? Well, the answer is that someone in the business or sales department decided it was better to “force” people into a lead funnel than to showcase their product without strings attached.

That is often misguided. People don’t want to give you their information. You might end up with fake information, which doesn’t accomplish your business goal. Or you might lose people who don’t feel like jumping into the lead funnel before they’ve even seen the product or its price.

Other comments under this LinkedIn ad suggested other competitors who had lower pricing. I would think that if I had less expensive competitors but I’m sure that my product is better and “worth it,” a marketing decision might be made to drain the moat and let people see what I’d hope is a super-compelling demo video.

It’s time to take that LinkedIn ad down.

After what looks like more than 6 months of running this ad over and over to the same people, it’s time to take it down. In general, that’s too much repetition of the same ad. More importantly, your ad now goes out with 69 comments, most of which are negative about your product and company. Some suggest competitors. That’s probably NOT the advertising experience you were hoping for.

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I recently ran an experiment. I had a blog post here. I posted it to my Facebook page. And I wanted to try “boosting” it so more people would see that Facebook post (and hopefully click it to see the blog post). Seems simple, right?

For a flat fee, Facebook will offer to push your post to a range of people. I chose to spend $60 on the 2900-6000 range. That makes you assume what??? Oooo I might get 6000 people. Right there, Facebook should do a better job setting expectations. I’ve run lots of Facebook ads that promised lots of “reach,” and they always come in at the low end.

I also chose to push the boosted post to friends of people who already like my Facebook page. This was mostly an experiment for me, so I didn’t get too crazy with targeting. I created my ad and Facebook created 2 versions of it for the sake of reporting/tracking. One was what was shown to the people who already like my page (weird, I thought I was just showing the boost to their friends and not them) and one was show to their friends.

Let’s start with one main metric you need to know. Click to enlarge.

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Post engagements. 58 of them according to Facebook. At $1.03 each, I spent the $60 I chose to spend at the beginning of the Boost process. OK what are post engagements?

Click to enlarge, and then let’s discuss what’s here because it gets really slimey really fast.

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Here’s another slice of it, click to enlarge:

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And yet another slice from the post itself:

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And from many clicks deep, there’s this:

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There are a lot of confusing and possibly misleading things here:

  • My post got 0 shares according to this. How did it get 1 comment on a share if it got zero shares?
  • Yes, the post got 2 comments. One was from a friend of a friend. The second was me responding to her. I saw another screen that made it look like those 2 comments were part of my 58 post engagements. So did I pay $1.03 for my own comment because that’s a post engagement?
  • I have 58 “post engagemgents” but 11 “likes, comments, and shares.” Well then what are the other 47? Not sure. Can’t be clicks to my website because Facebook claims there’s 48 of those, and I’m looking for something that represents 47. If Facebook is being precise, I’ll be precise too.
  • I have 51 clicks. 48 supposedly to my website’s blog page. 3 on “other.” Do we not know what “other” represents? The info icon says that an “other” click is on the page title or “see more.” Ummm, OK.
  • Wait, do I have 51 clicks, 48 clicks, or 47 clicks? I’m so lost.
  • That number of clicks doesn’t match what Google Analytics reports from those days from Facebook as a source. Goog shows fewer than that by about 25%.
  • I have how many of what??? One place says reach was 2906 people. But then it also says 3180 people reached and 3174 of those were paid. So which is it?

What did I really end up with?

Tangibly, I ended up with 1 new like to my Facebook page and 1 comment on the post. I probably got about 30 people going to my blog post to read it (based on Google Analytics and not Facebook’s claim of clicks).

Facebook counted my own comment on the post as a “post engagement,” and it looked like they do math like this:

Total spent divided by totally wanky number of post engagements = your cost per engagement. Well then please don’t count MY replies in that!

Why don’t the stats match up with each other? What is reach REALLY? What the hell is a post engagement?

As usual, I’m unhappy with having spent money running some sort of ad on Facebook. It always seems so unrewarding and like money was just sucked from me for no good reason. The stats don’t match up. Reporting is weird. It’s all very uninspiring.

But of course, Facebook wants me to boost that post again for more reach!

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For $15, I can reach 3500 – 9200 people. Well, are those unique people? Or are those in addition to the nearly 3200 you say I already reached? Could you take $15 from me, reach 300, and say we’re done? I can’t tell. This is just completely unclear (and I’m not going to do it for the experiment).

The ranges are also kinda weird. For $50, I can reach 4600 – 12000 or for $60 for 4800 – 13000. So I could spend $50 or $60 and end up with 4800. That seems a little weird.

I also noticed I’m not paying specifically for post engagements.

I spent $60. I got somewhere between 2909 and 3184 “reach” based on which of Facebook’s numbers you believe. I got 58 post engagements, and I was told that means they were $1.03 each. But I didn’t get to bid on post engagements. I didn’t get to say HEY I’ll pay a dollar each for a post engagement, and run this ad until I’ve spent $60.

The tail wagged the dog. I got X amount of reach. I got Y amount of post engagements (whatever those are). And then the math was done later as some sort of “cost per.”

It would be interesting if like regular Facebook ads you could pay per click or engagement and bid on that amount. Otherwise, this is the old pay per impressions model (reach are impressions) later manipulated to look like pay per action. Which also ends up feeling like I paid for over 3100 people to see my ad and ignore it, assuming we believe that Facebook showed it to them.

I hope someday someone at Facebook decides that consistency and honest are important in all of their ad products.

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Yesterday, I ranted about hoops I had to jump through in the Dallas airport to get WiFi.

In my home airport, SFO (San Francisco), you have to “watch” a video ad to get free WiFi for 45 minutes. I say “watch” in air quotes because I run the ad and look away from my device. And 30 seconds later, I have free WiFi.

2 trips ago, the ads were for the new ABC show, Agents of SHIELD. OK, why not.

I was surprised that the last time I went through the airport, the ads were for Al Jazeera TV. They portray people just like you and me who demand more from their news. And who will give them more? Al Jazeera. Click to enlarge.

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In reality, I don’t know poop about Al Jazeera. I hear it’s a good news service. I just turned it on to give it a chance, and it was the most in depth coverage you could imagine about a bombing I didn’t know that happened in another country. I turned it off immediately and put How It’s Made back on.

I watch the news very rarely. Why. Because “the news” is nothing but a never-ending list of shitty things that happen to people. I don’t need to wake up or go to sleep to an incomplete list of the murders, fires, rapes, child molestations, and other awful things happening in my area. And when they can’t find enough awful things nearby, they’ll tell you about rapes, murders, fires, and other crap in other areas. I don’t need MORE details on a bombing. I’m really OK with the 10,000 foot view headline on that one.

Where’s the good news?

If a news station wants my business, they can all stop promising to be fair, balanced, impartial, etc… If you want me to watch your news channel, give me good news. Give me things that feel good. Give me tips I can really use. Give me the truth about what’s in the food we eat.

I already know where to get the rest of the news. I can watch NBC or BBC or Al Jazeera. Who is going to give me information that is timely and truly useful? At the end of a news broadcast, I haven’t heard anything useful. I’ve only heard deeply and distractingly sad things.

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I recently saw an infographic that said something like, “We save so many phones from landfills each day it’s like the weight of a male hippo.” Thanks for not comparing it to a female hippo. That really helps. Not. Here it is in all its glory. And I’m a happy Sprint customer, but this is a great illustration of my point…

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They want to compare a quantitative number of something (4.3 million) to a length (66 Las Vegas Strips) to a weight (male hippo). Holy cats. And somewhere along the way, 4.3 million became 1500. I’m lost. How does this help me understand the impact Sprint is having?

“So you’re saying that something you’ve never seen is slightly less blue than something else you’ve never seen.”

The above is one of my fave quotes from the first series of Blackadder after a character describes the eyes of someone they’ve never met as nearly as blue as a famed gem.

If you want people to visualise data, you have to use something they can understand. I think most people don’t have a real grasp on the distance around the Earth, or the distance from the Earth to the Moon. We know it’s “really far,” but that’s about it. So comparing something to that doesn’t help someone understand it.

The better way to explain that

Sprint’s point ultimately may not be a number, a length, or a weight. Their point is: don’t throw old phones away, recycle them. So the infographic COULD have the environmental impact what they’re doing has in a year. I’m going to make these up, but how about:

  • This saves 2,000 acres of forests from being cut each year.
  • This saves enough energy to power one of America’s biggest cities for a week.

When you read those, you think, “Wow! That’s real impact. That’s making a difference.” It hits me way more than, “Sprint saves so many devices from landfills, it’s like 66 Las Vegas Strips!”

Go for impact. Made infographics, data, and stats really mean something to people, especially if you are hoping they will then take some course of action.

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Ads Are Following Me Around The Web


Posted By on Oct 28, 2011

Lately, I noticed a lot of ads for a company called Channel Advisor popping up on nearly every website I visit.

In the interest of full disclosure, let me say that I know who Channel Advisor is. I became aware of them in 2001. I’m not a fan. Many of my eBay consulting clients are not fans. So they are not a company I recommend. If you need what ChannelAdvisor does, I recommend that people check out Solid Commerce.

The ads are white, and have origami animals. Their slogan is now, “Be Seen.” OK, I see you. Since I’m not a ChannelAdvisor fan, I decided it would be fun to click on the ad every time I see it. If CA wants to advertise to me, they can pay for the pleasure. I was curious about how often it would be served up to me, and I was curious to see if ad systems would be smart enough to notice someone clicking on an ad over and over, and never hitting the goal page that shows that I followed through with whatever is their desired ad intent.

Short version: the ad system is not smart. I’m shown the ad between 4 and 10 times a day, each time on different websites. I’ve seen it on Pollstar.com, a site where you can look up what bands are touring, which has nothing to do with Channel Advisor’s services. I just saw the ad on a website joking that the day should be split in to metric units like 10 hours, 100,000 seconds, etc… Nothing to do with ChannelAdvisor.

Clearly, I fell into some sort of target audience. Google is showing this ad on any website I visit, even though the content has nothing to do with the advertised product. It must be some sort of run of the whole internet type of placement. But the more interesting thing is that Google has to know who I am. I’m logged in. My IP isn’t dynamic. And they’re showing this to me multiple times, even knowing that I’m clicking on it multiple times a day. I’ve probably clicked on their ad 30 times in the last week, maybe more, because I think it’s funny. 🙂

So attention Channel Advisor: Google is happily collecting your dollars for your clicks. They know I’m clicking on the ad at least 4 times a day, and they still show it to me many times a day. Day after day. An advertiser would hope that Google would know when someone is clicking on something for sport, especially since these are the only ads I have clicked on on the internet in probably years. You could easily collect behavioural data, and see what I’m doing: I’m running up CA’s bill with Google, and Google is letting me.

I am not sure of the solution, but I’d suggest looking more closely at your Adwords spending, and getting goals in there to see who reaches your goal pages.

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More Ways to Block Facebook Ads


Posted By on Sep 13, 2011

I’ve X’ed out a lot of Facebook ads in my time, but THIS is new:

Before you’re asked WHY you are killing the ad, you now have the option to block just this ad, or ALL ads leading to that domain. As an advertiser, this is an “oh well,” but anybody not interested in my ad wasn’t clicking on it anyway. As a Facebook user, who feels bombarded by irrelevant ads, this is a big HOORAY!

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I just read this article about a lawsuit against Toyota and their ad agency for a cyberstalking campaign they did in 2009. Read the article. It’s INSANE.

In case you only have time to read my blog, then the summary is this. Toyota and their ad agency cooked up a campaign for the Matrix car in 2009. The idea was to “punk” people. You’d enter some personal details for your friend, and a very elaborately-created (but fake) person would cyberstalk that person for 5 days before revealing it was all a prank. The ad agency blew lots of money on creating these fake people to make them look real, down to recording a REAL album for the heavy metal band one of your cyberstalkers was supposed to be in.

The whole thing sounded terrifying. The person stalking you knows your home address and number (because your friend put it in). They’re texting and emailing. They’re letting you know they’re coming to your house after some trouble with the law. This is a stranger to you!

Most interestingly, the ad agency tried to claim that all the recipients of this prank opted in. How? When their friend entered their details, they’re sent an email asking if they want to take an online personality test. The T&C of the test imply that they might be a part of an “online experience,” but don’t really tell you what you’re agreeing to. That is what this article was about. A judge decided that the opting in was deceptive enough to be thrown out, and the lawsuit can continue.

Who is suing? A woman who thought she was being stalked by a scary guy who had her home address, and she had no idea how. Special thanks to whatever friend signed her up for that since remember, this campaign only worked if one of your friends was willing to “play a prank” on you by giving all this info up. I hope I have no such friends! I hope I have actual friends.

I say this a lot in this blog and real life, but I am NOT for fear in advertising. I don’t think you get people to do much by fear, and if you get them to do something, 1) it’s normally not a permanent behaviour change, and 2) they won’t think of you fondly for the experience. What does the woman suing now think of Toyota, who put her through a terrifying cyberstalking incident in the name of a prank? And how does this bring ANY positive attention to the Toyota Matrix, which I hear is a great car? Can’t a great car just be a great car?

A terrible speaker I saw at a terrible Chamber of Commerce terrible event in 1996 said something I’ll never forget. He said to send people your “pitch” via certified mail. I told him (and the audience) that that was a horrible idea. Only lawyers and the IRS send certified letters… you’ll give someone a heart attack! His reply was, “And won’t they be thrilled the letter is from YOU!” My thought was that they would NOT be thrilled to receive certified mail, and would probably not think of me or my pitch with positive vibes.

What campaign can you create that makes people feel accepted? Liked? Part of a group? Heard? Important? Admired? Let’s not build campaigns that make people afraid. I don’t believe in pranks anyway. I don’t think they’re funny. I don’t think something at anybody’s expense is funny, and certainly not past age 16. Consider how to connect with past, current, and potential customers. Shame on Toyota and their agency.

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Earlier, I blogged about changes Facebook seemed to be making to the list of reasons you are X’ing out an ad. I just went to X out another ad, and was offered a pile of choices, including two new ones.

There are two new ones on this list. “Sexually Explicit” and “Against Your Views.” I was under the impression that Facebook was checking ads. When I create ads, I have to wait until someone approves them. I figured they were checking for porn or something that may not be appropriate. Maybe they are going to automate this more, and they’re hoping you’ll police this for them.

“Against Your Views” is interesting since I think it is another way of saying offensive. Offensive is very subjective. What I find offensive might be something someone enjoys doing daily. And I’ll still be sure it’s offensive. It’s against my views. It doesn’t match my standards or morals. So I’m not sure where Facebook draws the line here.

I think the main times I have clicked “offensive” were the ads referencing a “Bucket List” after a friend of mine with a terminal illness complained about how cavalierly these ads seemed to refer to death. I blogged about that in February 2011. So if I saw those again, would I choose “Against My Views?” I wouldn’t. I’d still choose offensive.

Perhaps this choice is for when something religious or political is being advertised, and you don’t share that viewpoint. Facebook, what do you mean?

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