Facebook ads are an increasingly common way for businesses to advertise. The growth of Facebook is almost directly correlated with the increase of scandals involving Facebook. From data mining, to selling data, to contributing to a plethora of election scandals, Facebook can't seem to keep their hands clean.
Which begs the question, why are businesses that are "socially responsible" still giving so much money to this business that causes so much harm?
Facebook ads are not flawless, there are quite a few downsides to paying for sponsored posts, most of which revolve around their shady targeting tactics and the rise of fake accounts.
1. Data mining and selling
Facebook's business model revolves around knowing as much about your personal life as possible, so they can target ads that match what you need. This sounds great in theory, but what happens when that data winds up in the wrong hands? This is exactly what happened when Cambridge Analytica harvested the personal information of millions of Americans to help sway different political elections.
This personal information was harvested, then used to determine which political ads would be most likely to sway the persons decisions on upcoming elections.
2. Fake Accounts and Engagements
Facebook has seen a rise in fake accounts and fake engagements, specifically when it comes to ads. According to PC World, fake clicks from fake accounts can make up almost 80% of Facebook ad campaigns. This is basically throwing money down the drain, you are only receiving about 20% of what you actually paid for.
Fake likes on your Facebook page can significantly hurt your page in the long run as well. The more fake followers you have, the less real engagements you'll end up getting.
3. Banner Blindness
Banner Blindness is a phenomenon where users automatically ignore online ads. This is true for banner ads at the top of web pages and it is true for Facebook posts that are denoted as promoted. Users see the "promoted" on the post and automatically scroll past without even seeing the ad.
According to Harris Interactive, 61% of social media users reported ignoring all social media ads they see. This number has been continuously growing since the inception of social media ads. 73% of all social media users reported ads as being "annoying" or "interruptive".
There's no sense in paying for ads, when people don't even see them.
4. New Algorithm
Facebook has introduced a new algorithm that only shows your posts to about 10% of your friends/followers. The stated goal behind this is to improve the content that is being seen by people and to ensure that only the best content is shown. What this algorithm has been doing though is almost extorting businesses into paying for Facebook ads.
Pages that were getting 100's of likes before are now getting 10 likes, the reach of every post is declining rapidly and leaving businesses with no other choice than to pay for exposure. This type of tactic by Facebook is harmful to business and continues to line the pockets of Zuckerberg.
5. Forged Metrics
Facebook has repeatedly been exposed for misreporting different metrics as part of advertising campaigns. They have inflated the number of clicks, video plays, website visits and pretty much every other stat you can think of.
Facebook has said these are accidental and has moved towards having third party verification for metrics, but you can never be sure with them. These forged metrics mean you are paying for things you are simply not getting, which again results in wasted money.
While Facebook advertising may be the most popular and seem effective, there are plenty of reasons against going through such a shady corporation for your advertising. With the rise of fake engagements and forged metrics, you never truly can know how well your campaign did.