GM has dropped ads on Facebook, saying that they “had little impact” on consumers.
When’s the last time you clicked on an Internet ad? When’s the last time you bought something because it was advertised on the Internet?
I’ve been reading websites for at least an hour this morning and I’m so ad blind that I can’t remember a single ad that was pushed my way. It only took GM a little under 20 years to figure out what most of us knew already: banner ads on the Internet do not work. The kind of targeted advertising that Google does on search pages probably has a little more impact. Nevertheless, Facebook is about to have a multi-billion IPO based in part on the delusion that generic web ads are worth something.
There’s a real problem with internet advertising– you often don’t know who’s behind the ad. The smarter surfer has learned over time not to click a link with an unknown provenance, so there’s just a generalized trust deficit.
In contrast, for e.g., print or TV ads, the sponsor has to show up at some point, so there’s at least a baseline level of trust. On the web, not so much, and progressively less as time goes on.
Pretty much par for the course…
When I was shown the Internet for the first time, I was told “Don’t ever click on an ad.” I thought everyone was.
Once in a great while I’ll see an ad and go to the company’s Web site myself. But I still never click on an ad.
I clicked on an ad last night on Facebook. I couldn’t help myself. I apologize for subjecting y’all to ads on the net, but you aren’t offering to sell me Hall and Oates tickets or telling me where they are playing this weekend.
We’ve had internet banner ads since 1992? I must’ve been a late adopter.
When I got my first internet account I had to sign and return a statement swearing I would never use it for commercial purposes. It simply wasn’t done. By anyone.
c u n d gulag
The only ads I ever notice, are the incongruous ones.
Like an Ann Coulter column ad, or a ‘support Allen West ad,’ on a Liberal website.
Not a one.
Anyone else remember ESPN 3Play? I got a check for $5000 from them through that promotion, and still can’t believe it.
So, advertising executive, you have this new technology called a “popup” .. and you’re going to monetize it by mandating that people who visit your site view them.. Endless riches!
You mean to say that all those Christian dating sites are wasting their money by advertising here?
The only online advertisements that have consciously affected my purchasing decisions are for books, and these ads are highly targeted. Example: last week while reading The Guardian I saw a sidebar ad for Bring Up the Bodies, the sequel to Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, and I immediately went over to Amazon to buy it. In this case, the ad served more as a reminder that an eagerly awaited book was about to be released. Banner ads for just about anything do not only not get clicked, they do not even get noticed unless they are particularly absurd (before the Greek elections I was regularly getting banner ads, in Greek, reminding me to vote for SYRIZA, an interesting idea considering I am not Greek)
I don’t get it either. I never click on Internet ads. If I’m on YouTube, I’ll often watch a video ad if it’s something I’m interested in, but I never click through. I think those barrier ads (must be some other name for them) that pop-up when you click through to Read More, say at Charles Pierce’s place (it’s impossible not to know he’s sponsored by Burberry) are more effective, but banners never. I don’t see the $100 billion valuation for Facebook as being anything near realistic, but then again, I didn’t see the valuation for Amazon as being realistic at the time.
This post is just a ruse to get readers’ guards down. Next you’ll be telling everybody, hey, might as well turn off the Adblock, don’t really matter if you see the ads because you’re not the kind of chump who clicks on banner ads, right?
The last time I clicked on an ad, it was for Morgan Spurlock’s latest venture, Mansome, and the only reason I clicked it was because of the shirtless man used as a teaser…
I guess the moral of the story is, for the benefit of our beneficent advertising overlords, invest heavily in internet pr0n and the clicks will follow….
I block Flash (for Safari users, ClickToFlash is a wonderful thing; highly recommended), which nukes the more annoying ads. Static banners I can mentally filter out, but animation and (especially) sound are bad, so they get automatically blocked.
a) hardly ever
help sink the boat!
when on facebook you can click the x in the corner of an ad and hide everything from bank of america and cheerios etc
Although, on second thought, I did find out to my horror not too long ago that my wife enters lots of contests and stuff, especially for travel. She’s agreed not to do this on my computer anymore, but I know she still does it on hers, which is probably why she needs to reboot three times a day and scan several times a month.
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
GM doesn’t really have to worry because it can afford TV ads. For those that cannot afford an expensive television slot, web ads work.
You’re argument sounds a lot like why do companies advertise on TV. I personally don’t run out and buy a car the moment I see a GM ad. The reason is that is has been shown that pulling your ads causes revenue to go down.
Google ads do more for me than Facebook ads do, but then again, I don’t go to Facebook when I am trying to find something.
Odie Hugh Manatee
What ads? I use every single trick to avoid ads (script, image and Flash blockers and so on) and rarely ever see them. I have never clicked on an ad and bought something, never will. GM made the right decision though with their IPO, Facebook probably could have done without it. As far as Facebook, Google or whoever is trying to entice me into giving up personal information?
Fuck them all, they ain’t getting shit outta me.
I just deleted my Facebook account last night, giving as my reason my refusal to allow my personal information to contribute, however modestly, to the enrichment of tax cheats. I know Zuckerberg and Saverin aren’t literally cheating in the sense of breaking the law, but fuck them both anyway.
On a related note, how many people stop in a Liberty Tax just because they see someone dressed like the Statue of Liberty on the sidewalk, or drop by the cell phone store just because some guy is amusing himself with a giant arrow on the sidewalk?
@Riilism: yes, p0rn is a necessary, but not sufficient condition to grab my attention.
Just about the first thing I taught my children when they started using the internet was “Never Click an Advertisement & Never Click Anything on Facebook That Is Not Directly Related To Communicating With Friends”.
@dave: I’m almost tempted to join Facebook just to fuck with their business model…almost…
And Pauline Kael didn’t know anybody who voted for Nixon, either, MM …
As someone who’s worked on both the client and agency side, banner ads do work. Targeted ads offer pretty good ROI, and are an essential part of an effective cross-platform marketing strategy. They’re annoying, but essential. And they definitely don’t work on every user. Facebook is just a company–like MySpace was, too. GM will still push banners into social networking sites. This decision could have been the result of any of a million factors not entirely related to business.
Also, GM still has a pretty large presence on Facebook–>375k likes for the brand page; >800k for one nameplate, Corvette. Developing and maintaining their presence on FB is where GM is focusing their efforts.
You are probably not fully apprehending how advertising works. The same could be said of tv advertising. I have to say that I find Facebook ads to be particularly uninspiring, but I also admit that I do look at other kinds of ads on the internet, depending on what it’s for.
There are ads on the internet? /firefox user
How many people who have to work on computers (i.e., one of GM’s likely target audiences) use NoScript/AdBlock/KillFlash/etc? I do see some ads (with NoScript), but none hosted by doubleclick.
Facebook — well, as I keep saying, I’ll get a facebook account as soon as they start selling them, so I can set my own privacy settings and keep them that way.
Sorry, I don’t see a big difference between a magazine ad and an internet ad. If one works, why not the other? And you don’t need an immediate click for an ad to do its work, do you?
too easy, ;)…:o
Dot com bubbles yesterday, dot com bubbles today, dot com bubbles foreverz!
Pop-down ad on the front page of a news site. (so basically, accidental clicks)
I click on ads placed by outfits I don’t like when they appear on web sites I do like. I’m hoping this results in the transfer of a nickle from the former to the latter. (I wonder if it actually works when I use open-in-new-tab and then don’t even look at whatever foolishness Newsmax has on offer…)
Yup, me too. I never clicked on a web ad until I came here and did it to get Cole some jack from Amazon and to order my BJ Pets calendar. But that’s only because I heart John Cole. Never did it anywhere else.
I’ve often wondered who advertisers thought actually clicked on their ads. Glad to see that at least one tries to determine if it’s an effective use of their cash.
GM doesn’t need ads there. It has a facebook page, lots of ‘friends’, and I bet a lot of them rave about Camaros and trucks and such without GM having to spend a dime.
I am happy others do buy ads. I click sometimes. I even buy stuff on occasion. Most of the ads are useless to me, but if it keeps facebook free of cost I won’t complain.
I feel like I’m cheating websites out of revenue when I adblock but I literally cannot read a page that has moving things on it. It triggers my vertigo. before Adblock I kept Sticky Notes(tm) around the rim of my monitor and used them to physically cover the hopping, jittering, bobbing, wobbling stuff that was trying to get my attention but was making me nauseous instead.
@Keith: I remember when pop-up ads were the scourge of the Internet, and there were all these blockers you coul get for them, and people seriously would boycott companies who ran them because they were so user-hostile.
Now it seems like every other site I go to sticks up a fucking pop-up asking me to get on their mailing list. And you can’t block the fuckers because they’re done with CSS or something, so there’s no sure way for a blocker to tell that it isn’t just part of the web page. Apparently annoying the crap out of your users is in style again. Yay.
Ad clickthrough rates are pretty damn low — as in, 1% of views or less — but companies are still doing well for themselves on the web. From an episode of the CBC show Under the Influence:
You should read or listen to the whole thing. Terry O’Reilly is starting to phone it in, but this was a pretty good episode.
I just hope the 401k that I have so little control over is not invested in FaceBook stock. I feel like the people who created Facebook are getting to be billionaires and then pension plans buy the stock which then plummets because advertising on FB sucks. So all us little guys will take the hit in our meager retirement savings. And we really have no say because these investment plans and pension plans are managed for us.
Last night. On an ad for a Republican gubernatorial candidate.
I get some really stupid ads. It’s supposedly based on your search/surfing history but quite a few of them make absolutely no sense. Its literally stuff I have absolutely interest in and stuff that I have never looked for.The pig one that’s been here and Atrios I find revolting. And, jeebuz, I’ve been seeing the conservative ads on liberal websites forever. Why? Do they serioulsy think a DK, Tbogg or Eschaton visitor is going to contribute to Romney or go out and get Ann Coulter’s book. I have clicked on ads a few times but one was for a book and one was a political donation for a senate race. I play a game on my smartphone and i can’t figure out how to pay for the full version of the game so I get the stupid ads and its the damn same ads over and over and over again. Stuff I will never buy. Never.
How Facebook founders are avoiding paying taxes.
mistermix @ Top:
Yesterday, but the site was blocked by my browser, or, more accurately, the MurdochBlock extension I have installed.
There’s probably a metaphor or larger lesson in there, but I’m not sure what.
It was an ad for a movie I’d read good things about, Beasts of the Southern Wild.
Prior to that, the last time I clicked on an add was probably when some wingnut business, Newsmax or the like, was advertising on a left-oriented blog — I like channelling conservative advertising dollars to progressive causes.
Probably a metaphor or lesson in that too.
A retired friend of mine developed a website that helps people learn how to learn more effectively. A few years back he added a column for google ads (mostly related to education, no visuals, just text). Nothing flashy about it, but he manages to make about $3000 a month from readers checking out the ads. He was against puting the ads on his site for a long time, but he’s pretty amazed and happy with the result, now that he can pretty much live off his ad income.
Ad targeting is horrible, but it’s in its infancy. Imagine if you were trying to participate in a conversation and couldn’t hear 99% of the words. You’d make no more sense than the ads served up on web pages.
But it’s going to get much much better. Eventually every internet user who doesn’t take proactive steps to prevent it will be followed everywhere by their own personally tailored microenvironment of highly persuasive advertising that shifts instantly according to everything that they do and what they’re about to do. There’s just so much money to be made that this has *got* to happen.
Clicktoplugin works for newer versions of Safari.
Laboratory experiments, with eye-tracking hardware, tend to show that people just don’t notice ads in general (with a few specialized exceptions). Of course, you can only run such experiments on a relatively tiny sample of people, so if the average click-through rate is a tenth of one percent, that’s not likely to be captured.
The worst site I go to for accidentally clicking on ads is Little Green Footballs. It seems like you can click any random open space on either side of the main body of that site and an ad will immediately pop up. Bugs the hell out of me.
@gbear: For all that I appreciate Charles’ journey back to the light, the Rube Goldbergian custom coding of his site drives me nuts. For example, I used to be able to read his site on my phone (if I was patient) but in the past few weeks, the “Show More Articles” button at the bottom of the page spins endlessly and reveals nothing.
Gin & Tonic
No, Facebook is about to have a multi-billion dollar IPO based on the *knowledge* that they will be able to package and sell all the data they already own from all you dopes with Facebook accounts.
First off, everyone knows that the real money is in tulips.
Second, one reason Google has made more money in ads is that they have changed the appearance. If you type in a search for online travel agencies, it used to be that the ad would appear on top in a colored-box. Now, the ad is still on top, just that it no longer looks like an ad. So people click on it, and Google gets to charge the buyer for the click.
The saying of advertising is that only 50% is effective, but no one knows which 50%.
That’s the purpose of those facebook “like” buttons. They don’t care if you ever click on one. The code to drive the button loads from FB and they can track you all over the web, even if you don’t have a FB account.
Forum Transmitted Disease
My company did a couple of Facebook ads for open positions. You’d think, in this economy, we’d be flooded with replies. Or at least clicks.
Not one click, but they took our money anyway.
I will never give that company another dime as long as I live. Anyone who buys their stock is an idiot. GM is right…Facebook ads do not work and do not produce results.
@dmsilev: Yes! Adblocker and Flashblock are wonderful. I find the animations and movements very distracting and bothersome.
Without the blockers I’d have to spend less time on the net. Advertisers: you’ll get my eyeballs when you stop animating ads. Content creators: stop flashing stuff… I won’t return to a site that insists on grouping stories and moving the pictures for them.
ETA: And before anyone jumps on me for doing this because ads are how sites pay for themselves… the animations and movement really cause a neurological problem for me. If they’d not use animations and movement I might actually use the ads to find things.
If you’ll permit me to play it contrarian (to the extent that Slate should pay me for this comment), I’ve found Facebook advertising very useful for smaller business. I work for a website that’s certainly no small potatoes, but most of our customers don’t know we exist. Being able to target people by their interests or demographics rather than what they happened to type is a great way to reach people who might not know about you otherwise. It’s also been VERY useful for promoting my band based on a commercial spot we soundtracked last holiday season.
There are limits to FB ads – they’re frankly not good for driving traffic to other websites, and if you don’t have a marketing budget there’s not a pressing reason to pay out of pocket. I’m really glad that they exist, though, and I honestly prefer them to the Google ads. Not sure what GM was hoping to get out of these, though – people won’t exactly pop over to Amazon to buy a Ford.
To paraphrase Trekkie Monster, “In volatile market, only stable investment is p0rn!”
Data point: the one website I visit regularly that has a great amount of success with me in terms of click throughs and purchases is a crafts site, specifically rubber stamping. The main sponsors are a rotating group of 8-10 small to medium sized independent manufacturers and retail sites…IOW not the biggest companies out there. Their banner ads appear in rotation on top of everynpage, and exclusively on top of the pages in their forums and galleries. The ads change out to promote sales and new product releases. I click through to check out the new stuff, and purchase some things, sometimes. At the same time, the sponsorship is not obnoxious…there are no videos, popups, noises or the like. At the same time, the sponsored bring real content. Their “design team” members are participants like everyone else, there are periodic contests to choose new designers (who get the new releases ahead of time and for free so that they can make sample projects. If more sites targeted their audience so precisely and offered so much to their target audience, it might be more successful.
Yeah, my son relentlessly points out that he bought his computer with his own money, but I’ve spent more on fixing it than he did to buy it.
I used to click on ads for people/things I hate from sites I like on the belief that it cost the entity I hated & benefited the one I liked. But then I am not sure that it really does that & if so not much & was it worth it anyway. Now I don’t at all. Its just noise I block out. I know there was a lumpy Pam Anderson & now a different pig in one but I can’t tell you what they are for. Occasionally there are for newsmax or mAnn Coulter and such which I find HIGH-larious around here.
JOHN? Would clicking on these things make your blogging better/easier for you? If it would help pay the bills I’ll click otherwise its shields up & phasers set to ‘ignore’
Look, for about 5 years we had an entire economy based on the delusion we could all get rich selling houses to each other.
It’s gonna be a looooooooong time before we run out of delusions.
Bill in Section 147
For a large car company I will assume they paid for the research and have come to an informed conclusion. For most advertisers there is next to no actual data collection, tracking, or real research following the actual response.
I have responded (like others above have mentioned) to an ad by going to the company website. I am a non-clicker. I also disregard links in emails with offers from services and companies I use…safer to go to the site myself.
I know a lot of people who are not affected by advertising in the very least. Just ask them. In general, the ones like that I know are also most likely to swear by “their” commodities.
Like many people here, I use ad-blocker plugins of various sorts. I rarely see ads at all. When I use my wife’s computer (who doesn’t use such plugins), I’m very shocked and distracted by the number of ads.
Even then, I don’t think I ever click on anything. But, if their goal is to simply get their product or company name into my brain, it probably works. That does seep in there. Whether it has any sort of effect at a later time when I’m actually attempting to make a purchasing decision, I don’t know. I’m a pretty thorough researcher when it comes to purchasing decisions, but it’s very well possible that an item/brand made it onto my research list by having that brand/product invading my mind via an ad I saw.
I think one would have to be a tad naive to think that exposure to all those names, brands, and products, doesn’t work it’s way into your thoughts in some form or another.
I may be completely off the mark on this one, but every time I hear “Facebook IPO”, I think “worthless pump and dump” or “selling personal information”.
Rob in CT
Sorta creepy. But then so is the fact that if you search for something on google, suddenly all the ads on sites you visit will be about that search. So I basically am at the point of acceptance. But I still refuse to use Facebook.
I’m one of those people who thinks he’s immune to advertising. I’m probably not fully immune, but I do largely ignore it. ESPECIALLY on the internet. I have never deliberately clicked on an ad on the ‘net. Not once. I’ve mis-clicked a couple of times.
But what I do is not a realiable guide. At all. I am not the target. So, while I’m tempted to think “yeah, right on, FB is gonna crash & burn!” I have to doubt it. I’m never right about such things.
Amanda in the South Bay
Never and never.
Of course it helps to be rather poor, so I can’t afford much anyways. I can’t help but feel that people are suckers.
I don’t see ads on FB. I guess people don’t know that there is a place way down deep where you can turn them off.
While Ford is increasing ad spending on Facebook, saying it’s been effective. You can never really know what specific thing marketing teams are looking for.
The GM ads I’ve seen on the Internet are so bad, so annoying that they couldn’t entice me to trade lead for solid gold.
Having people remember your ad has to be a primary goal of any ad campaign, but if every time they think of your ad they feel annoyed and thoroughly negative, that can’t be a good thing.
“Chevy runs deep.” So does bullshit.
Maybe you’re not doing it right.
I earn a significant amount each year on Google ad clicks on my very modest websites (no not porn and not related to politics either). I also spend a significant amount of dollars a year on google ads to draw traffic to my website. Why do I do that? Because it works!
Mistermix. You nothing….NOTHING….NOTHING……nada…..zip…zilch! The stupid it burns.
What a useless totally zero information post giving completely WRONG information. All because he read somewhere else on the innertubez that GM stopped advertising on Facebook and connected all these dots.
What a tool!
@Mickey: Ahhh, so now you are drinking before noon.
@Nylund: I take note of advertisements. The particularly annoying ones stick with me. I make a point to never buy their products.
Same goes for egregious product placement. When the Burn Notice series started shilling Hyundai I vowed to never buy one of their vehicles. I don’t even care if they are good cars (they’re not).
I filter a lot of advertisement out of my life, but it’s impossible to filter them all. I intend to make ads have a NET NEGATIVE effect on my chances of purchasing a product. I really wish more people would do the same. If ads didn’t work, eventually they’d stop advertising.
It’s may be an open question as to whether deleting a Facebook account actually deletes the account. See this Lifehacker tip all the extra steps you may have to go through
How to Delete Your Facebook Account
And in many ways, once you are on the Internet, you are no longer personal and private anymore, especially if your friends and family are into social media.
Judas Escargot, Your Postmodern Neighbor
Please, tell us how much your cat made on tuna futures as well.
@Gin & Tonic: My facebook account serves the singular (and dubious) purpose of helping old friends to find me. I don’t visit facebook even, unless my email account pops something in my inbox about somebody I know trying to contact me.
Were it not for that, I wouldn’t have an account.
This. Few things can aggravate me more quickly than having to listen to more than a few seconds of any given commercial break on TV or radio, and getting spam or a pop-up ad is pretty much a 100% guarantee that I’ll avoid that company or product. I don’t respond to guilt trips from site admins about blocking their ads either; visiting a public web page does not instill in me a moral obligation to download content to my computer that I don’t want.
Thankfully we’ve been able to teach our son to be just as repelled by advertising as we are, which will go a long way towards inoculating him against the worst elements of consumerism.
@Catsy: Excellent. Also props for taking the time to sharpen your son’s bullshit detector early on. One less reactionary idiot we have to worry about in the next generation.
I don’t understand why web ads are judged in a way that no other form of advertising is. Nobody “clicks through” magazine or newspaper or television advertisements. I’d even guess that most people don’t think they are buying products because of newspaper or magazine or television advertisements. They see the ads, it gets burned into their subonscious, and people are more likely to buy the product.
Why doesn’t this work for web ads, as well? Why are the effectiveness web ads judged on the completely unfair standard of click throughs, that no other form of advertisements has to worry about?
That ceases to work if you train your brain to hate the very concept of advertising. My id is repelled by marketing – and that’s a fact that I’m proud of. I see an ad, even for something I’d otherwise like, and it makes me disgusted and angry.
ETA: That may also explain (at least partially) why I can’t stand that Mad Men program.
Amanda in the South Bay
There’s also the problem of web ads as being vectors for all sorts of nasty malware and ilk. I’m not going to allow ads just so some MBA can feel satisfied that their marketing campaign is working.
Rob in CT
Yep. If you think of advertising as manipulation – which it is – then it’s a hop skip & a jump to being angered by ads. Eff you, I’m not going to buy [insert sh*t I don’t need here] because you put hot women in bikinis in an ad for it.
Ads that manage to be funny I can appreciate, though I don’t think I’ve ever made a purchase based on that. I just don’t actively hate them.
I can’t remember ever buying anything as result of an internet display ad.
Those that come up in search results are a different matter.
@gaz: What does this have to do with anything? This seems like the equivalent of when people are discussing a TV show and somebody feels it necessary to offer that they don’t even own a TV. Good work, you’re too smart to be manipulated by ads. That wasn’t my point.
My point was that the effectiveness of web ads is judged in a completely different way from the effectiveness of any other kind of ad, and I don’t really understand why.
@Jamey: I would suggest one possible factor is that the under-35 demographic, by and large, aren’t interested in buying GM cars?
Personally, I can’t get enough of those creepy old man morphing ads and Photoshopped women jiggling their tits and asses over home refis and going back to college.
the fugitive uterus
target ads are working great for me – i keep getting sucked in!
I am certainly not everybody, but the only time I click on facebook ads is when one pops up for a cause I’m totally opposed to, then I make sure to click the button that says “offensive”. I know they want me to click “against my beliefs”; fuck that. Seeing ads pimping Rush Limbaugh is offensive.
I hope none of you are thinking of buying into FB’s IPO. Grossly, grossly overvalued. For suckers only. If it falls to 1/3 of the IPO price, I might think about it. Following the herd is seldom a good idea in investing.
Everyone thinks they’re too smart to be influenced by advertising.
Everyone is wrong.
Odie Hugh Manatee
So if a guy is on Facebook plotting with his new girlfriend to kill his wife so they can run away together, then Facebook will pop up ads relating to guns, rope, knives, duct tape, poison, shovels, travel agencies that specialize in countries that harbor fugitives and such?
My, we have come a long way!
That can’t be said enough, John. When I read a paper or the web I’m in scan mode, and my eyes are trained to mostly ignore the ads. I do read the pullout ads from select stores, but then I sign up for email ads from those same stores.
The ads are a tiny portion of that IPO pricing. A much larger portion is the in-Facebook apps (Birthday Cards, Farmville, Words With Friends, etc.) that folks use. Each time a person agrees to use one of these, he/she is giving the app permission to mine private info. That’s the only reason the apps exist!
When’s the last time you bought something just because it was for sale?
There’s ads on the internet? When did that happen??
Seriously. Google it. And use Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome.