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Are Facebook Ads Worth Abandoning SEM For?

December 20, 2012 By Aaron Levy
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There's no question that Facebook has become the talk of the town in the advertising world. Facebook allows marketers to target virtually the entire world based on the interests and browsing behaviors of users. The social network knows it must rely on advertising to maintain its lofty stock price. Facebook recently launched an ad networkmobile ads and it may soon launch its own form of search advertising to take advantage of its massive user base.

So should you abandon your search marketing dollars to reach this massive, targeted audience? In a word, no!

Mark Cuban said it best in a recent post on his blog: "FB is far more like TV than it is Google Search ... FB is what it is. It's a time waster." Facebook users don't log on to research a new computer; they certainly don't log on with the intent of buying something. Facebook users aren't actively seeking information, unless it's about their friend's relationship status.

Search marketing, specifically paid search, is pure pull marketing. Consumers are already looking for your product. They're either in the research phase, plugging broad keywords into Google looking for information or they've already made a purchase decision and are simply looking for a place to buy. Consumers use search engines because they're actively seeking answers to a problem they have. All you have to do is show for the right keywords; give consumers the details they need via compelling copy and boom, you have sales. Obviously there are a number of nuances in search marketing that can be a full-time job for many, but these are people with money in their hand, banging on your front door.

That's not saying Facebook should be totally discounted. Collecting "Likes" offers many of the same opportunities as collecting email addresses — consumers have indicated they're interested in your brand and want to communicate with you in their social space. That's huge, but you can't pay your rent in likes.

If you want to advertise on Facebook, especially if it shifts dollars from direct response channels like search, I'd suggest answering the following four questions first:


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