Facebook advertising and why I don’t see your post if you have paid to promote it.

We’re in the middle of a state election here in my state of South Australia. I am someone that wants to know what the different parties are saying so I tag their Facebook pages as ‘see first’ which makes Facebook show me anything they may post on my news feed at the top. As long as they post without paying Facebook money to promote the post I will see it. Here is why.

I got annoyed with YouTube quite some time ago where they started to force me to download ad content when watching video’s along with other sites that insisted I watch video content ad’s. The solution to that was install an ad blocker on my browser.

An ad blocker reads and modifies data as it comes into the browser and removes any code that displays ad’s (your promoted post). It simply does not appear on my news feed. It’s a tool that is great. Everyone I know runs it because they are as annoyed as I am with the intense level of advertising on the internet. There is a way for facebook and other sites to get through these ad blockers by subscribing to a set of standards that put limits on how much advertising is shown.

Why does Facebook show that the ad’s are getting through? Well they don’t really know. All they can know is they have sent the data. They could, like more and more media companies add code that senses if the ad’s are being shown otherwise display a message that tells the user to disable adblock before they show the content. That only works for a short time as the ad-block developers (or people with programming skills like me) sense that and block the code that checks.

Some stat’s on how prevalent this is comes from a report by PageFair https://pagefair.com/blog/2017/adblockreport/. I’ll be upfront, I don’t know if this report is accurate but my experience of the people I know and talk to all use adblock and if they don’t, ask me to help set it up for them. The key statistics I took from the report are (remember we’re now Feb 2018):

  • 11% of the global internet population is blocking ads on the internet in Dec 2016
  • 615M devices are blocking ads in Dec 2016
  • 30% global growth YOY in adblock usage Dec 2015 to Dec 2016

The other challenge with Facebook is a normal post is shown on a few news feeds. It’s only spread if people react to it in some way, for example it may show on 20 news feeds. When a person clicks like (or one of the other interactions) or makes comment or shares, it is sent to another 5 news feeds. Note I don’t know the actual numbers, just know that’s how it works. So when you promote, that initial number is increased so your starting point is much higher, but it’s blocked by adblock.

Most adblock software will allow ads through if they meet specific criteria (https://acceptableads.com/en/) which it appears some are accepting but many are not so they spend money developing systems to sense if adblock is blocking their ads and refuse to show the page unless the user disables the ads. Some just ask the user which is not as bad. For large social media their success depends on popularity. With 74% of American’s saying they leave sites with adblock walls which I think is highly probable as most I talk to do the same would be disaster for the popularity of the social media site like facebook. The other way is to change and fit within what users have determined is acceptable level of advertising and register with the adblock companies. Adblock puts control back in the users hands where it should be.

Now in the interim the only way I can think of how to get the most out of social media advertising is to use a combination of paid and unpaid. If something is important, make sure you repeat the post with slight change in text, one you pay for the other you don’t.

This for me is an interesting area of the Internet, the battle between large corporate and the end user. We’re seeing the end user has significant control when it comes to advertising and it’s growing rapidly. I can just imagine the frustration that is inside the large web content companies on this topic as they know it’s going to impact on them. I think some of the larger companies that advertise with these content providers are catching on to the issue but many smaller ones are not aware they may be paying for something that is not being delivered.


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