Three things I dislike about Facebook ad platform

UPDATE 09/24/2010: Three minutes after posting this to my Facebook profile I received a automated “feedback” request from the Facebook advertising team. In the feedback form I copy-pasted most of what is on this page. One hour after that my first ad was disapproved and within 48 hours I was told that all of my ads were not compliant with Facebook’s advertising guidelines. I can fix the issues they pointed out, but the timing of it all seems odd given that I’d been advertising the same product for 3 months or so.

Just something to consider when you are giving Facebook feedback or complaining in a open forum.


1) Ad scheduling is horrible


When you are marketing online you notice a pattern in the peak conversion time of day for your product. For example in Japan its often late night, after dinner. While in the USA most people do their shopping during business hours. Once you have recognized the pattern of your conversions you should time the display of your advertisements to match your peak conversion period. You do this by creating targetted ad groups with timing associated with those groups.


Japan Group: Country, Japan. Timing, 8PM – 12AM

USA Group : Country, USA. Timing, 12PM – 3PM


…for example. The USA has several time zones so you would actually create groups based on region or state unless you are using an intelligent ad platform like Google Adwords.


This isn’t possible at all on Facebook. It’s a fundamental requirement for effective marketing, so I hope they have this at the top of their priority list. They do have a very basic function that requires you to manually log in to stop and start your advertising display by hand. It’s hilarious, but if you are disciplined enough to do it, your advertising cost will decrease because your click through rate will improve.


2) Advertising approval is inconsistent


I start campaigns with 6 or so advertisements that are all very different. Three ads are grouped to target women, and three for men. The three advertisements are actually the same in each group so I want to test which is most effective for men vs women. I start with the image and then after I find the most effective image I work on the copy and headlines. This means I’m making tiny little changes to the advertisements at least once every 24 hours until I find the right combination.


I have no idea by what criteria the Facebook advertising team judges ads by, some ads take 1 hour to approve others take 12 hours. And a lot of it seems to be dependent on the time of day. I find it hard to believe that they don’t have a 24 hour approval process, but it sure looks like it. So if you make a slight change to your ad and are not careful, you can end up missing an entire day of impressions. It seems like the only way around this is to duplicate the ads so you end up with 100 ads all with minute changes. And of course you have to manually disable the old ads and enable the slightly modified ads once they are approved. Even writing this makes me laugh at how unnecessarily complicated this is.


Facebook should have intelligence behind the ad approval process. For example if an ad has already been approved, and the only thing that changed in the ad is a single number “2 day trial” becomes “5 day trial” that should be a no brainer and automated.


3) Reporting is based on Pacific Time?


I don’t really understand how reporting works, some reports like Responder Profile can only be generated once a week. Others can only be generated once a day (based on Pacific Time).  And you can’t specify the time zone the reports cover which makes it difficult to understand for me at first glance because I have to calculate the actual time in Japan. I’m not sure if this is a problem with my profile only but its annoying.


I would like all reports generated by my time zone, and it would be helpful to see the time zone of the person who clicked on the ad. And can I please see the information updated with data newer than the previous 24 hours? Please?


The Good:

The demographic data you can gather from Facebook is golden. For $200 you can identify your target market age, sex, city and peak usage time. You want this data. Before you invest more of your advertising budget, gather data from Facebook and then use that information for your broader campaign and to improve your advertising copy. But you do have to wait a few weeks for Facebook to get around to reporting all of the data for you, but good things are worth waiting for eh?


And of course once Facebook owns the web all of this will be 1000 times more useful.

A additional note: On Facebook not all advertisers are treated equally, so many of the features I wish I had are rumored to be available to big spenders. So the rest of us will just have to wait…