How to waste your Facebook Advertising budget

Posted on July 16, 2019


Have you ever seen adverts on Facebook and wondered why on earth you were seeing them? You know, the sort of adverts that are so irrelevant to you that you can’t believe Facebook is showing them to you?

Every now and then I see these, and the reason is quite simple. The person, or company, running the adverts has not set up the audience for them correctly. This means they’re wasting their advertising budget displaying adverts to an audience that not only would never convert, but to one that would be annoyed by seeing them.

Here’s an example; last week I saw an advert for a Manchester United friendly match against Perth Glory, in Australia, shown on United’s official television channel MUTV. Many of the comments on the advert were from non-Manchester United fans complaining they had been subjected to the advert. So why were they seeing it? Who should have seen it?

As the advert was promoting a Manchester United match, the obvious audience would have been people who like Manchester United and, presumably, Perth Glory as well. As the advert was promoting a TV screening of the match, the audience should also have been restricted to regions where the match was actually screened – such as the UK. There’s little point showing the advert to Manchester United fans in the USA if they’re unable to watch the match, and there’s absolutely no point showing the advert to Liverpool fans in the UK as they would never want to watch it.

That’s what the advert did, however. So why?

Perhaps the people running the advert set the audience as people who lived in, or had ever lived in, Manchester. This would have included me. However, as at least half of Manchester is Blue, this would have made no sense. Additionally, as the majority of Manchester United fans live outside Manchester, they would have been missing most of their audience.

Maybe the advert was aimed at people who liked ‘Football’? This also would have included me, but would have, again, been a really expensive waste of time as there are 92 league clubs in England, not to mention thousands more in the leagues below. Manchester United is just one of these.

Perhaps it was aimed at people who like ‘Manchester United’ and similar pages? I have seen this before, as pages for other teams often crop up as similar suggestions. It’s one of those peculiar algorithm quirks that still doesn’t appear to be ironed out. ‘You like Manchester United, maybe you would also like Manchester City?’

Perhaps, and this is what I suspect, it was just set without any targeting at all – other than geographic. This seems to be how a lot of people start off with their social media adverts. By paying to show adverts to the tens of millions of people on Facebook in the UK, you’re wasting the vast majority of your budget showing adverts to an audience that is never going to be interested in what you’re selling. Save yourself a huge amount of money by spending a very small amount of time getting your targeting right before you publish the advert.

You wouldn’t advertise your Manchester United products in a Liverpool supporters’ club magazine, would you? So why effectively do that on Facebook?

Technical Director at Engage Web
Darren is Technical Director at Engage Web, as well as being a co-founder of the company. He takes a hands-on approach to SEO and web design, helped by more than 20 years’ experience in these fields.

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