Study: Facebook Ad Click-Throughs Declining

Click-through rates on Facebook ads only averaged 0.05% in 2010, down from 0.06% in 2009 and well short of what’s considered to be the industry average of 0.10%. That’s according to a Webtrends report that examined 11,000 Facebook ads, first reported upon by ClickZ.

Meanwhile, the price of those clicks is increasing, rising from $0.27 in 2009 to $0.49 last year. The lower click-throughs and cost increase occurred at a time when Facebook’s top advertisers have increased their spend tenfold, according to the Webtrends study.

A friend being a “fan” of the ad was one factor that increased ad performance. “Friend-of-fan” targeting increased click-throughs across the board, but the impact was especially significant among those who attended college. Those who attended college are twice as likely to click if a friend was a fan, suggesting that social influence is stronger among college attenders than among those who didn’t attend.

Friend-of-fan targeting could also combat rapidly-staling ad creative, Webtrends found. In most cases, ad burnout came quickly — after three to five days — because, unlike search ads, they are being targeted to individual people. Friend-of-fan targeting helped with this, possibly because the ad gains fans over time, therefore widening the pool of people — friends-of-fans — exposed to it.

Click-Through Rates Over Time with Friend-of-Fan Targeting

Another factor that impacted performance was the category of the advertiser. Since many Facebook users are visiting the site to entertain themselves, brands in categories likely to provoke discussion — media & entertainment, along with tabloids & blogs — had the highest click-through rates.

Webtrends also found age and gender affecting performance. People that were older — up until age 65 — were more likely to click on ads. When they’re between 18 and 24 years old, women and men are equally likely to click, but women’s propensity to click was greater if they were 25 and older.

Geography (within the U.S., at least) had little impact on click-through rates, although North Dakota and Wyoming showed higher-than-average click-through rates and Hawaii showed lower.

Related Topics: Channel: Social | Facebook | Stats

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About The Author: is Executive Features Editor at Search Engine Land and Marketing Land. She’s a well-respected authority on digital marketing, having reported and written on the subject since 1998.

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  • russellosullivan

    Personally I think many of us saw this coming from a long time ago. I for one with a lot of my colleagues were not convinced about putting all our efforts into paid ads with facebook. They have a huge potential reach, which appealled to all of us in SEM, but it has never been executed correctly.

    They need to address their paid ad serving, placement and model to increase the upstream that they hailed would change the face of paid search and ads for the last 2 years!

  • Catherine Kellogg

    This is pretty much what we observed last year too. Except that being a direct response company we never got the Friends of Fan to work for us.

  • kbingh

    Using clickthrough rates as a benchmark to track the success of an on online ad is not very useful or accurate but seems to have become the standard for the advertising industry. This is also a big reason why online advertising is suffering because they are using a method that does not reflect true human behavior.

    The power of an ad is not based on how many people do an overt act like clicking on it. The power is the customer being exposed to the ad and becoming familiar with the brand name, If television were to require all viewers to make some overt act like clicking on something they too would be left with the false impression that their ads are infective. If this was the case then TV, newspapers, and magazine advertisements would be worthless.

    Advertisers should be more concerned with how their ad is being viewed and how often and not on how many people click on it. Few people click but many people are exposed to the ad that is what is important. Clicks should be tracked but it should not be used to determine the effectiveness of the ad.

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