Bill D'AlessandroEntrepreneurship, Investing, Technology

The Magic of Facebook Ads

I had an amazing experience tonight on Facebook that I thought I would share.

Barack Obama is coming to Wake Forest tomorrow. Limited tickets were available for free on a first come, first serve basis to the student body. Unfortunately, I wasn’t quick enough, and didn’t get a ticket, and neither did my two roommates. After four years at Wake, I’ve missed the chance to see a number of big name political speakers, and I wanted to make sure I got to see at least one before graduation.

I tried emailing my fraternity’s listserv to see if anyone had any extra tickets they weren’t using – no luck. I emailed the president of the campus College Democrats – no tickets left, the event is sold out. However, I was determined to get a ticket, so I turned to the best medium I knew to contact as many college students as possible – Facebook.

At 11pm tonight, approximately 10 hours before the doors were scheduled to open for Obama’s speech, I created a Facebook ad offering $25 to anyone with extra tickets. I was easily able to target it to all students at Wake Forest (though I could have customized it further – by interests, class year, major, and many other criteria). I chose to pay per click, and set a maximum budget of $5. After I pressed “Create my ad”, it was a matter of minutes before Facebook had shown my ad over 6,000 times. Within the hour, I received messages from 4 separate people offering to sell me their tickets. The entire thing cost me $4.97 – that’s only about 8/100ths of a cent per impression. (As a side note – this is incredibly low as far as online advertising goes – a problem for Facebook that has been mentioned before as one of their biggest weaknesses)

Tomorrow morning both of my roommates and I will see Barack Obama speak in a sold out coliseum that I didn’t even have tickets to until less than 10 hours before the event.

Now that’s the power of the internet and social networks – and it’s those kinds of results and precise targeting that make Facebook worth $15 billion (though I do think that’s a bit high, considering their monetization difficulties).

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10 comments
  • Bill, rnrnThis is pretty interesting bit you shared. I thought it was especially interesting that your ad got 6,000 clicks within minutes! The magic of advertising on popular websites is never really quite understood until you try it for yourself, especially when they allow you to target it as well as Facebook does. However, you note that Facebook has admitted their low advertising prices is one of their weaknesses– yet it makes them worth $15 billion? That isn’t much of a weakness, but I guess when you consider how successful Facebook has been there aren’t too many weaknesses to pick on. rnrnSo I was just wondering, who gets the profits from the ads on your website? The host? Or do you get any? rnrnBy the way, my dad and I are very impressed with your website and your writing. He tried to post on your taxes article earlier today but couldn’t figure out how to post it– haha.

  • Bill,

    This is pretty interesting bit you shared. I thought it was especially interesting that your ad got 6,000 clicks within minutes! The magic of advertising on popular websites is never really quite understood until you try it for yourself, especially when they allow you to target it as well as Facebook does. However, you note that Facebook has admitted their low advertising prices is one of their weaknesses– yet it makes them worth $15 billion? That isn't much of a weakness, but I guess when you consider how successful Facebook has been there aren't too many weaknesses to pick on.

    So I was just wondering, who gets the profits from the ads on your website? The host? Or do you get any?

    By the way, my dad and I are very impressed with your website and your writing. He tried to post on your taxes article earlier today but couldn't figure out how to post it– haha.

  • Hey Ben,rnrnThanks for leaving a comment. I personally think the Facebook valuation is quite high, considering their difficulties monetizing – but there’s no denying the power of their advertising model.rnrnAs far as the money I make from ads on this site – I get to keep most of the revenues, with a small percentage paid to Google and another ad network for arranging the ads (a pretty standard split). I use the money to pay for hosting the site, and anything left over I loan out to entrepreneurs in the developing world using Kiva. It’s a cool way to touch people, encourage entrepreneurship, and give back at the same time.rnrnI’m glad you guys like the site – your dad ended up emailing instead of posting here, so you’ll have to show him how to leave a comment if he wants to in the future – I hope he will.rnrn- Bill

  • Hey Ben,

    Thanks for leaving a comment. I personally think the Facebook valuation is quite high, considering their difficulties monetizing – but there's no denying the power of their advertising model.

    As far as the money I make from ads on this site – I get to keep most of the revenues, with a small percentage paid to Google and another ad network for arranging the ads (a pretty standard split). I use the money to pay for hosting the site, and anything left over I loan out to entrepreneurs in the developing world using Kiva. It's a cool way to touch people, encourage entrepreneurship, and give back at the same time.

    I'm glad you guys like the site – your dad ended up emailing instead of posting here, so you'll have to show him how to leave a comment if he wants to in the future – I hope he will.

    – Bill

  • I think there is a lot of potential in Facebook advertising whether it be through social networking or paid ads. I think social networking is more effective, but paid ads can be a good lead generator.

  • Facebook users nowadays have this tool as social media outlet for some good moves like ads, etc….. it has wide arrays of users worldwide and it’s easy to connect with people from all walks of life. I uses this to ad a good site and it works. Keep up.

  • Facebook users nowadays have this tool as social media outlet for some good moves like ads, etc….. it has wide arrays of users worldwide and it's easy to connect with people from all walks of life. I uses this to ad a good site and it works. Keep up.

Bill D'Alessandro