On Writing : Promoting books - is Facebook targeted advertising worthwhile? by David E. Gates

David E. Gates

Promoting books - is Facebook targeted advertising worthwhile?

I was watching a documentary a few days ago that explored the amount of data Facebook has on people and how effective it is at using that data to target individuals and thus advertise more directly to them, based on those individual "likes" and experiences.

From what I researched on the internet, which probably isn't the best place to look, most people said Facebook advertising was ineffective but the way the documentary presented it suggested that if used to specifically target people it could have a dramatic effect.

I'm about to give it a limited-cost run this weekend coming but wondered if anyone here had specifically used targeted advertising on Facebook (or elsewhere, if so, where?) and what results it garnered.

Thanks in advance.

David E. Gates.

James Drago

I have never had a reason to use it, but I know 2 authors that have who got eaten alive. There's been so many articles speaking to Facebook's dubious advertising system, I'd be skeptical.

David E. Gates

When you say they got "eaten alive" - what do you mean exactly? From what I can see, you can limit your expenditure so there should be no reason to be taken for a ride on this.

I had a poor experience with them a few years ago, regarding just ordinary advert placement which, when I backed out of at the last minute, they tried to charge me for - after several weeks and several posts on their business pages I did finally get it dropped, but it was a painful experience. I'm hoping the targeted approach, which is different to that I previously tried, will be different.

I am a little sceptical and will be ensuring that the amount spent on this exercise is literally a tester to see what impact it has on sales etc. I have a very niche set of targets to adhere to, so there will be no doubt as to what results, if any, it brings.

James Drago

They chased it. They would smell the hint of a positive result, tweak and spend more money.

C Harris Lynn

FB just settled with a slew of advertisers for the second time in a short period over dubious methods, accounting, or something. Definitely research it first!

Arial Burnz

Hi, David! I'm an author who spends a LOT of time on Facebook. I've run about a dozen FB ads myself, but most of the authors in my circle run them a lot...and they're becoming less and less effective these days. FB's advertising has become quite saturated. Not only that, to become as targeted as the documentary is saying, you have to practically have a science degree to figure out FB's ad targeting system.

If you've never used it before, you won't get good results unless you hire someone who knows the FB ads inside and out. They're easy enough to figure out how to put together...it's trying to engineer the ads and targeting to get them give you the results you're looking for...if that makes any sense.

If you're looking to promote your NOVEL and it's on Amazon, then Amazon Ads are the new thing. I'd get involved with AMS (Amazon Marketing Services) ads while the results are hot.

TIP: Mark Dawson did a presentation on Amazon ads and one of the biggest questions he gets is, "If an ad is working well, how can I add more money to get better results?" If I remember his analogy correctly, he compared running AMS ads similar to lining up a bunch of peas down a straw. There's only so many peas you can get through the straw at once, so you really can't throw more money at a single running ad - not like you can on Facebook.

What Mark recommends is duplicating the ad and running several of them at once. Your ads, then, will run more frequently and get you more results. So if you have a $100 budget and you want to throw the whole chunk at AMS, you can break it up into ten $10 ads running at the same time. Make sense?

I hope this helps...or at least answers your question. Facebook ads are legit and they're isn't really a lot of sneaky dealings. They're just too freakin' complicated and the market is saturated. FB loves it and they don't care. They're getting all the ad revenue. That's probably the only sneak deals going on.

As an advertising friend of mine says...if you build an audience, people will PAY to be in front of it. Everyone is throwing money at FB as a result.

I would NOT recommend Twitter. Twitter ads are worse than FB. Talk about data overload. Sheesh!

Good luck!

David E. Gates

Thanks for the comments....

Arial, you mentioned "If you're looking to promote your NOVEL and it's on Amazon, then Amazon Ads are the new thing. I'd get involved with AMS (Amazon Marketing Services) ads while the results are hot."

I have a real problem with Amazon at the moment - Whilst not perfect, before a couple of months ago, when entering “David E. Gates” as a search string, it would invariably return most of my publications on the first page. At best, I now only see my author page as the second result and my latest publication ninth on the list. However, the results are very inconsistent and frequently return NONE of my books or anything related to me on their first page.

I've complained to them. It's like putting David Bowie in and only getting results featuring knives! But they just say crap like "We are not able to modify the search results for titles on our site." which is pure bullshit. It USED to work, they changed something and now it doesn't, so for them to say they cannot sort it out is just nonsense. I'm in the process of removing ALL references to Amazon from my publicity and links.

I've covered this in my blog post at https://davidegates.com/2017/05/04/why-amazon-search-is-bad-for-your-bus... but until they fix their search, I won't be giving them any money. They take 40% or more as it is from each book I do manage to sell through them, so they could at least allow me to be found on their site! Apple manages it. So does Smashwords.

I don't use Twitter much for anything except the occasional post - which, like those I do see on there, is probably lost in the mire of too much overload.

Arial Burnz

I'm not a huge fan of Amazon's methods either, but that's where the money is at the moment, unfortunately. I am, however, neck-deep in my own research and experiments to refine ways for authors to make a steady income from their books without having to rely on Amazon. A BIG part of my own personal advertising is my mailing list. Once I'm done with my findings, I'll be posting a YouTube video presentation to help authors get a handle on creating a steady income. Be sure to visit my author website and signup for my newsletter so you can get notified: http://authorbank.net/newsletter The video I'll be posting will be free, so I'm not trying to sell anything here. Just sharing a good thing! Good luck!

C Harris Lynn

I accept sponsored posts on my blogs, all of which are well-established, and reach targeted audiences. This would be particularly beneficial to SF/F writers. You're free to mail me for more details. :)

David E. Gates

I only have a basic Wordpress blog mainly to keep costs down. To accept sponsored posts I'd have to pay out £80 a year to fund it. Not sure I have enough traffic to warrant a sponsor.

C Harris Lynn

I'll post a 50-100 word promo for about $US5.00, but I don't do "sponsored reviews" and I prefer to mention that it is a sponsored post. Banner ads vary, and I prefer you use a third-party (Project Wonderful, to be specific). I've handled numerous major clients/brands over the years. Of course, business has all but disappeared entirely now that everyone went to social media. I'm happy to be done with the bloggybloggerblogging in the blogosphere hype, though. :)

David E. Gates

I've taken the plunge and set up a very targeted niche campaign with a very limited budget as an absolute test. The target audience is very tight though has a significant amount of reach and initial reports are that the page and video ad is getting a LOT of clicks but there is, so far, nothing resulting in any sales. I'm running it for a week so will report back as to the results in full once it completes.

Sue Lange

I'll be interested to see how you do.

Arial Burnz

My recommendation, David - you'll probably want to run the ad for at least 2 weeks. From my experience, it takes about 3-5 days for a FB ad to "cook" (see how the ad is actually performing) and then make adjustments to the audience targeting at about day 5 to see if you can tweak and improve the performance/get a lower cost per click (or whatever unit you're paying).

David E. Gates

Thanks Arial... Reach is around 3000 so far, with clicks at around 70. No sales yet though, and we're already on day 4!

Arial Burnz

Roger roger!

David E. Gates

985 video views of my advert, yet still no sales. Very disappointing.

Ted Westby

David, from my own marketing experience, for my photo business, I found facebook advertising to be THE LEAST effective use of marketing funds of everything I've done. Resulted in absolutely ZERO new business. But hey, that was me. Bon chance!

Jeff Lyons

Any of the social media platfoms are worthwhile to do ads on... but they have to be paid ads but here is the kicker: you HAVE TO know how to use their ad manager backend software. This is something all the content marketing gurus fail to tell people. It's not enough to post ads or set up sales funnels... if you don't know how to manage your ad campaigns in the ad management backend, then you will be throwing away your money. That means: knowing how to tweak your campaigns, knowing how to read the statistics, knowing reach and frequency, etc. Sadly, nobody teaches people this stuff ... you almost always have to hire third party experts to do the metrics and tweaking. It's a huge job and very time consuming. Trust me on this... I've leaned the hard way after spending thousands on dollars on marketing guru courses and funnel consultants.

C Harris Lynn

My blogs have decent reach. I'll post a 50-100 word with one link for $5.00. Just PM me. If it's related to fantasy, SF, comics, et.al., I can be of pretty good service. The other blogs get far less traffic, but intensely concentrated; they're "target audiences." It's really a decent deal, but I certainly cannot promise anything on ROI.

David E. Gates

Thanks for the comments guys. C Harris Lynn, my books are not SF/F so your outlet wouldn't be targeting the right audience. Plus, with no mention of specific numbers ("decent reach" is very subjective) it would be difficult to justify. No marketing or blog or any "advertiser" gives any guarantees of ROI - probably because most of them are shit. I even placed an ad in a newspaper here with 2.5 million reach. I sold one book. And that ad ran twice! The only thing that made a significant difference in terms of sales was an article about one of my books in a free, limited run magazine delivered locally. Sales went bananas! However, it's very difficult to get space in those as most are 80% adverts. Mind you, most newspapers are like that these days.

C Harris Lynn

Yeah, that's why I don't charge much. lol It's good for coverage - just getting the word out - but it isn't effective insofar as sales. I have several other blogs focused on different topics, but the SFF/comics blog gets the most traffic. I don't like to post numbers publicly, which is why I said just to send me PM. Banner advertising is even less effective now that everyone uses adblockers, so blog posts and social media ads are the better option. Still not very effective, though.

C Harris Lynn

Ha! Someone must be following this conversation, as I just saw this and thought I'd share with you (although Wired is not very trustworthy):


David E. Gates

The results are in...

7409 people reached. 1764 video ad views. 127 Website clicks. £34.96 spend. 0 sales.

James Drago


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