The Pros and Cons of Facebook Ads

In this guest blog post Sarah German of VAVA Virtual Business Support shares her knowledge and expertise on how to get the best out of Facebook advertising.


Unless you’re selling live animals, weapons, prescription drugs, or you’re promoting hatred (there is a much longer list of restrictions, but you get the picture), any business can advertise on Facebook. You have probably heard of businesses that have been restricted that don’t fall into these categories and that’s because ads are initially checked by bots for restricted keywords. Ultimately, most product and service businesses are ok to advertise but why should you advertise on Facebook? And what are the pros and cons?


The truth is that organic reach continues to decline, and it’s increasingly accepted that, to get the desired results, paid ads are essential for any business that fits the allowed criteria.

Typical reasons for using Facebook ads are:-

– Promoting online courses or memberships.
– Promoting a launch or an event.
– Driving traffic to a website or page.
– Selling products or collections of products (e-commerce)
– Geotargeting a local service.
– Promoting a lead magnet to warm an audience / build a list


Pros and Cons

 Let’s start with the cons…

…Although Facebook ads are sometimes seen as a quick and low-cost boost to your marketing, don’t be fooled. Quick they are not. There is an awful lot to get right before you can even start advertising:

  • Installing your Facebook pixel
  • Setting up Business Manager correctly
  • Researching your audience
  • Planning your copy
  • Planning and producing your creatives
  • Developing your strategy and planning your funnels


On top of this, once you’ve published your ad, Facebook will always need at least 3 days to learn how to best serve your ad, so don’t expect instant results.

And low cost? Sure, they CAN be low cost, but you’ll need a strategy for your budget too. Remember, the higher the intent the more you need to spend! A £5 a day budget is likely to be hard-going and mostly result in money down the drain (or Facebook’s bank account). Ideally, you should plan to spend a minimum of £1000 per month to get the desired returns.


How many times have you heard, Facebook Ads don’t work? I wonder how many of those times started with a non- strategic “boost”? Whether out of frustration at the lack of reach or engagement of an organic post, or just an attempt to reach more eyeballs without throwing too much budget behind it, clicking that ubiquitous boost button is always a temptation. Unless used as part of a strategy, this method tends to lead to disappointment and low returns. In fact, it is often the thing that turns people off ads all together – the Facebook-ads-don’t-work crew – unless they had a positive result, in which case, they start looking into ads proper.


Another reason why businesses boost rather than creating an ad is for ease. And understandably so when the alternative is navigating the Ads Manager through choosing the correct objective at the Campaign level, the right audiences and budget at Ad Set level and the right copy and images at Advert level. Facebook Ads are certainly not easy, which is why many businesses resort to using agencies or freelance Ads Strategists (adding to the already growing cost).


Now for the thorny issue of data tracking, which is both a pro and a con, depending which side of the fence you sit and whether you’re an advertiser or a Facebook user. The big reason that Facebook ads are so effective is because there is so much data available to serve ads so precisely to your target market. Whether or not you’re happy about Facebook having so much data, or more to the point, taking it without asking, is a matter of personal preference. It is something we will no doubt find out more about as iOS 14 rolls out and more people have the option to switch tracking off.  Facebook’s response to iOS14, by the way, is a whole other blog post for another day.  For now, to effectively track your audience and to have the ability to optimise and retarget, you will need to install the Facebook pixel on your website, which should be a quick and easy task for your web developer to do. The advantage of this is the ability to target huge audiences within the 2.6 billion active monthly users.


As we’ve seen already, there are many key ingredients to a successful ad – budget, targeting, tantalising copy and creatives – but one of the key things for me, which separates the good from the excellent, is the use of the analytics. Although not instant, the really great thing about Facebook advertising and the Facebook Ad Account, is the visibility it provides and the opportunity to control and optimise.


Furthermore, campaigns are beautifully and flexibly structured to allow testing at each level. At the Ad Set level, it’s possible to test out different audiences (and different avatars). At the Advert level, you could test out your copy and your creative. Testing does require more budget, but in my view, it is worth the investment up front to find out what works best and then run with that.


The reason that testing is possible at Advert level, is because Facebook allows you to be very creative with your ads. There are some restrictions as already mentioned, but you have the option to run with a single image, carousel, slide show, video or an instant experience and you can choose where you want to place that ad (Facebook, Instagram, Stories, Messenger) or let Facebook decide that for you (automatic placements).


I mentioned earlier that Facebook Ads can be seen as costly when considering the up-front budget, the cost of supporting a sales funnel and the additional cost of an ads manager, however it all depends on perspective. When viewed as cost per lead or cost per click, which can be as low as 50p, the relative cost CAN be extremely low. This is why it is worth taking time to plan out your funnel carefully.


For all the cons and the bad press concerning Facebook ads, there are still plenty of good reasons to invest in the ability to ninja target from a wide audience, the relative low cost, the flexibility and creativity, the ability to test, analyse and optimise. For every naysayer there are countless more businesses that find Facebook ads to be an incredibly effective marketing tool with some unbelievable returns. Just take a look at some of the Facebook case studies here. If you’re convinced and you’re thinking about giving Facebook ads a try, please get in touch for a chat and let’s chew the fat about audiences, funnels and adspend!

Sarah German is a Virtual Assistant who loves to increase her clients’ productivity by doing the jobs they hate. She specialises in data management, customer support and social media management.   With her varied background in customer services, merchandising and data management, Sarah tends to work with clients in the financial services and e-commerce sectors. She is very happy to work with any like-minded businesses that are passionate about their customers, have a sense of fun and a determination to be the best they can.