An Experiment: Facebook Ads Don’t Have to Suck

Facebook Ads Don't Have to Suck

[AUDIO VERSION: I also recorded an audio version of this blog post. Click below to listen. Let me know if this is something you find helpful!]

As a visitor to my website, you may have recently seen a Facebook ad from me inviting you to participate in an experiment.

Facebook Ads Experiment Invitation Ad

The results I’m seeing so far from this experiment are incredible, so I wanted to briefly break down what it is I’m doing and the thought process behind it.

Ads Don’t Have to Suck

Late at night on December 30, I was wide awake in bed. For whatever reason, I was grappling with the perception of Facebook ads and ads in general.

Ads intrude. Ads sell. Ads push. Ads are seen as a necessary evil to use the Facebook platform.

But what if people wanted to see my ads? What if it was a pleasant surprise to them? What if they felt they had to click? What if these ads served them content they couldn’t see anywhere else?

Creating a Facebook ads campaign that works is all about reaching the right people with the right message at the right time. But what if we took that a step further?

Facebook ads, in general, exist to show you something you may have otherwise missed. They behave as a reminder to buy that product, opt in to that offer or click that link.

These ads don’t truly provide value.

I’m guilty of this, too. I promote the content you may have already seen (though I do exclude those who already read a certain post when promoting it). I push to make sure that you didn’t miss it the first time.

Facebook Ads vs. Email Newsletters

Let’s think about ads the way we think about our email newsletter. No one wants to sign up for your stupid newsletter if all it does is remind you to read a post.

I have work to do on this personally. I email every time I publish a new blog post. The hope is that I can provide value, background or a different angle within the email version.

Still, that’s boring. That’s why you should provide lead magnet content in exchange for the email address.

People are no longer opting in for a boring email newsletter. They are giving you an email address to see content that they couldn’t see anywhere else.

Ads Can Serve Exclusive Content

At 1:10am, I sent the following series of texts to John Robinson, my Backup CEO:

Crazy idea: Facebook ads Easter egg course…

Each lesson delivered via a Facebook ad. You only see the next lesson if you clicked on the previous ad.

Completely free but unique. People would want to click my ads.

I was tired. It may not have made the most sense at the time. But the idea was very clear in my mind. It was a huge, shiny lightbulb that was keeping me awake.

Facebook ads don’t have to suck. If done right, people may look forward to seeing them. They don’t have to push you to see content you may have seen otherwise.

Facebook ads, like an email opt-in, could be a benefit to the user.

The Experiment

I had very little time. I knew that by noon of that day (11 hours away), my family and I were heading for the mountains for a little New Years vacation. I needed to get working.

So I created the ad you saw at the top. I targeted fans and website visitors.

The concept was simple:

  1. Click the ad to opt in (using a Website Custom Audience)
  2. Get served an EXCLUSIVE Facebook advertising tip
  3. Those who viewed that tip would be served another (and another…)
  4. There’s a surprise for those who make it to the end

The audience was highly relevant. Those who participate would be the most engaged members of my fan base and website visiting community. Those who participate SHOULD be extremely engaged.

I decided to add a wrinkle to up the engagement even more and lower the waste: An opt-out.

I am running a second ad that looks like this…

Facebook Ads Experiment No More

If you don’t want to participate, I don’t want to waste money showing you the ads. This goes not only for the initial pool of people, but I also allow those who initially opted in to change their minds.

I know. This is beginning to sound a bit nuts. I am spending money to show exclusive content to a small number of people. I’m also spending money to ask people to opt out of seeing my ads.

But I have a theory. These are my most engaged users. The audience may not be huge, but they are the ones most likely to opt in and buy.

I’m not pushing anything in these articles. But each tip will include ads in the sidebar for my free ebook, Power Editor training course, one-on-one service and Power Hitters Club.

I’m tracking conversions for all of these things. I’m also using UTM parameters to track further in Google Analytics.

I am going to dump more than $3,000 into this experiment. Will it be worthwhile? We’ll see…

Early Results

So far, so good.

Here are the early stats on the people viewing Tip #1…

Facebook Ads Experiment Tip 1 Results

And here are the early stats on the people viewing Tip #2…

Facebook Ads Experiment Tip 2 Results

What’s even crazier about Tip #2 is that the CTR on mobile is 68%!

I know. It’s a small sample size. While I’m spending the bulk of my budget just getting people to participate, I’ve spent only a few dollars to drive participants to content.

But this is eye opening. We’re still talking about a total of 819 website clicks for about $15. That’s freaking ridiculous.

The entire campaign has also resulted in 213 conversions worth $1,041. Most of those conversions are free opt-ins, but we know there is long-tail value there, too.

Participate in the Experiment!

Initially, I felt like I shouldn’t write about this experiment until it was complete. But I want anyone who wants to participate to get on board.

DO NOT CLICK THIS LINK UNLESS YOU WANT TO PARTICIPATE!

The thing is, you should already be seeing the invitation ad on Facebook if you’ve been there lately. Or maybe you were ignoring it (you wouldn’t do that!).

But otherwise, go here to essentially opt-in to this Facebook ads experiment.

Once you visit that link, you’ll soon see Facebook ads from me delivering a series of tips. These tips will essentially break down precisely how the experiment was run.

And if you don’t ever want to see these ads, go here to opt out.

Note that this is a two step opt-out. I understand some people will be curious and just can’t help but click! So you’ll be asked to click another link once on that first page.

More to Come!

I can’t wait to reveal the results of this. Stay tuned!

Have you ever done anything like this before? What do you think of the concept of serving exclusive content via Facebook ads — making them something that is desired?

Let me know in the comments below!