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Are you advertising where you think you are?

Are you advertising where you think you are? I ask this because I was recently shown an interesting example of misdirection. A publication offered a business belonging to a family member a month’s trial advertising that was so cheap they couldn’t say no. They recall being told that the advertisement would run on the publication’s website “and associated publications”.

When the results came in, they were very good. The traffic that had been generated to the business’s website was decent, and (unlike some other advertising ‘opportunities’) the traffic was from the right sort of people, in the right sort of places.

But wait a minute…

However, on more detailed investigation (which many businesses might not do), we saw that 95% of the generated traffic came from… Facebook.

Alongside the advert on its own pages, the publication had just paid for a load of Facebook ads. Effectively, it was just acting as a Facebook ads management service, in a similar way to how my own company BMON acts as a Google Search Ads management service. There’s nothing wrong with that, but let’s just revert here to my original description of the practice as ‘misdirection’.

“Advertise with our publication and we’ll get you several hundred website visitors” doesn’t sound quite as good as “advertise with our publication and we’ll get you several hundred website visitors by putting your ad on Facebook”, does it? Because as you can guess, the standard price for the advertising was significantly in excess of what it would cost to put the ads on Facebook directly.

Why we must only pay by results

I haven’t seen an affordable advert on a business publication’s website that has generated a decent amount of good quality traffic, at decent value, since about 2005. Web advertising became all about volume back then, and only the biggest sites now have the volume to deliver the goods. The 6 clicks that a Professional Widget Monthly advert might generate in a month could be good quality, but at best those clicks are only going to be worth about £30 to the advertiser – and who’s going to be able to sustain an advertising business on clients paying £30 a month? This is why Google and Facebook have half of the world’s online advertising revenue, because they have the volume that other sites can only dream of.

Unfortunately online publishing is full of misdirection at best, and (I suspect) at worst, outright fraud. We all need to stick to advertising where the results can be proven in our own website analytics and where the value is clearly reasonable. Sadly, that won’t be something that Professional Widget Monthly will ever be able to offer now.