Tag : pixel

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210: Why Facebook Blocked HiBid

Last week, some of you saw my post in the Auction Technology and Marketing group on Facebook. For those who didn’t, I showed the screenshot you see below. To save you some squinting, it was a notification from Facebook that my pixel was turned off on all HiBid sites on which it was installed.

Facebook Blocked Data HiBid

This notification came after I had rebated hundreds of dollars to clients when their ads didn’t perform. I hadn’t noticed, because there were no Facebook notifications to warn me. There were no notifications—because the ads weren’t rejected. My ads weren’t turned off. Just my pixel was. So, any ads based on web traffic were running—just to nobody.

The pixel was deactivated because of inappropriate content on the platform. That could be alcohol, tobacco, pornography, marijuana, or any of the short list of items Facebook doesn’t want to be legally responsible for promoting. My guess, though, is that it was firearms; but I don’t know that for sure.

What I do know is that I’ve been warning for several years now that this day was coming. The Facebook advertiser platform analyzes not only the content of the ads but also the content of the pages to which they’re linked. In this 2017 post, I showed in writing from a Facebook employee that this policy would include entire sites. I advised to get guns off auction websites onto their own, dedicated sites or at least out of the same catalogs. Not wanting to take drastic measures, most did the latter. Others stopped using me for Facebook services for any assets.

Now, some can’t use Facebook’s full suite of tools because of that partial remedy.

What's Next sticky note

This isn’t an I-told-you-so post, though. This is a call to fully adapt sooner rather than later. We’ve all got more time on our hands right now—more than usual for this time of year. This is a great time to buy some URLs like [company]gunauction.com or [company]firearms.com or [company]secondamendment.com. This is a convenient few weeks to watch a couple YouTube videos and then build a Squarespace or Word Press website for your gun sales or to hire that work to be done. We all have time now to go back through our archives and remove all gun auctions or firearm lots from our current site. Your web developer can do a quick and cheap find-and-replace for all mentions of those banned items.

Today, it’s HiBid. Tomorrow it could be Proxibid or Auction Services, MarkNet or United Country. It could even be your proprietary site. Despite the negative impact of this cultural shutdown, we have an unprecedented opportunity to head off a future problem at this pass. You can say some words about Facebook that can’t be aired on broadcast television, or you can gain a competitive advantage on other auctioneers. 

We can have bigger conversations down the road about creating a firearm-centric platform for all auctioneers, maybe even one with a shared email system. Time and money spent on lobbying lawmakers probably won’t change this. We’ll only break our tiny selves on the rocks of protest. We’ll save future commissions best by investing in adaptation.

Please know this isn’t a political platform for me. I design advertising for legal weapons—just not on the Facebook platform. Just two weeks ago, an East Coast client emailed this about my campaign for her gun auction:

“The email lists and blast for the firearms was a huge success! We had 130+ bidders from all over the US; 72 buyers! Sale brought 10K more than the sellers precaution estimate.”

So, I want to help you make the most of firearms in your estates and consignment sales. More so, I want to help you make bank on real estate and equipment auctions. We all make way more money on the latter than on weapons. For me, it’s an easy math problem. Either we (1) pass on the deals with guns, (2) partner with gun shops to take on deals we need, or (3) adapt our marketing to avoid changing what we sell. Gun auctions account for a small fraction of one percent of my income. The same holds true for many of my clients

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If that’s not true for you, I implore you to consider what your gun auctions might cost you. More importantly, if you use a shared bidding platform, I’d ask you to consider what commission you might be risking for your professional peers. Like with this Coronavirus reality in which we’re living, the person you’ll save with your precautions is probably someone else. For all of my auctioneer friends who’ve been posting about getting the economy going again to save businesses, I’d look at your potential to help the auction industry do just that in the long term.

This isn’t a matter of if but when. We’ll have to make these changes now or later. If you “shelter in place” your gun content now, we’ll all get back to a new normal sooner.

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Facebook’s New Targeting Tool Comes with a Catch

For several years, advertising agency publications have been complaining about transparency and accuracy of Facebook’s self-reported results. I dismissed those headlines as Fortune 500 problems until an email from Don, one of my Kentucky clients.

Don asked me why there was such a big disparity between how many visitors his Google Analytics had shown to originate from Facebook and how many Facebook had claimed. I answered something along the lines of these points:

• the difference lay in how both entities define a click/view/visit;

• I would take Google’s word over Facebook’s stats; and

• the true numbers should still be somewhat proportional to each other.

In my post-campaign correspondence with clients since that first email from Don, I’ve often advised clients that they need to compare the results that Facebook reports with what their Google Analytics shows—and work off Google’s numbers.

Facebook wasn’t trying to mislead advertisers.

It just had limited measurement. One of their newer tools combats that limitation and gives advertisers better data.

Facebook previously counted people who clicked on any or all links in your ads and promoted posts. Four people make that a problem.

(1) the accidental clicker, who clicks right back to their newsfeed after seeing it disappear to a link screen

(2) the impatient clicker, who won’t wait for a page to load (often on cellular service)

(3) the indecisive clicker, who decides they don’t want more information after all

(4) the double clicker, who could be any of the first three but clicks a second time

I’ve been all four of those clickers.

Facebook’s solution was to get what Google has: measurement on the other end of the link.

Facebook built measurement into their pixel code. Now, advertisers who use the free code on their website can give and receive anonymous reporting through that pixel. In so doing, Facebook affirmed the disparity of results but offered transparency. That removed most of the suspicion of inflated reporting.

Then this summer, Facebook added a tool to bridge the gap of the disparity between link clicks and page views. They added the ability for us advertisers to optimize ads for people likely to visit a specific landing page. For auctioneers, this might be an auction even page, online catalog, or even a seller services page.

Facebook Ad Optimization Options

Facebook’s algorithms know who is likely to click on advertising. Up until 2017, that was the best you could get when prospecting. Those algorithms now also know which Facebook users are most likely to visit landing pages—those who do more than just click. What this means is that you can prioritize your ads to serve to the segment of your target audience most likely to actually visit your website.

For the auction industry, that’s what we want. We need to get people off Mark Zuckerberg’s platform and onto ours. We want people to move through our sales funnel, and we want those to be the right people for what we’re selling. The option to optimize for landing page views allows us to find more and/or better needles in the haystack.

This incredible opportunity does come with a catch—four of them, actually.

You must have a Facebook pixel installed on page where traffic is heading.

If you use Facebook’s Business Manager, this would be your business’ pixel. If you use Ads Manager, this would be your pixel and/or your vendor’s pixel. (You can have multiple pixels installed at the same time, and they don’t interfere with each other.) Fewer than half of my clients have installed a pixel of any kind. It’s a shame, too, because the pixel offers some other mind-bending abilities. Rather than insert the pixel code on each page, it’s a lot easier to paste the Facebook pixel code into your site’s header, where it will automatically and invisibly populate to every page on your site.

You must be prepared for fewer clicks from your ads.

I’m only a few months into this tool, but my sample size indicates that these ads will get fewer clicks than ads optimized simply for clicks. They’ll be better clicks from more qualified clickers, because you’ll be paring out the unproductive fluff. Unfortunately, that means that any of your past case studies or results reports that emphasize clicks—inflated numbers—will seem to overpromise results from ads optimized for landing page views. Depending on how many auctions you do a year, it may take a bit to rebuild your case studies for clients.

You’ll have to educate your sellers.

It makes sense to assume that someone who clicks to your website inherently becomes a visitor. Now you know why that isn’t true. So, you’ll have to be careful not to call clicks “people coming to the website.” I used to pass along that assumption—before Don’s email.

You can’t optimize for landing page views when using boosted posts or promoted posts.

Even if you have the pixel installed on your site, you can’t use it to optimize posts for landing page views. You can still use it to create custom audiences and lookalike audiences for promoted posts, but only ads can be optimized for clicks to your website or for landing page views. If you don’t know the difference between an ad and a post, I created this guide for (1) telling them apart and (2) knowing when to use each.

The benefits of optimizing for landing page views outweigh the above considerations. In most situations, the more targeted our audience, the better; and I’ve found Facebook’s algorithms to outperform my educated guesses most of the time. That doesn’t mean I would optimize all my Facebook advertising for landing page views. Each auction and its various target audiences require different goals, and I currently use all five optimization options for ads and posts in different situations. That said, this will probably be my default setting when available going forward.

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164: 5 Reasons to be Wary of Automated Marketing

Most of the folks that attend my seminars represent sole proprietorships or family-size businesses. Based on the feedback I get before and after my talks, I sense that many auctioneers feel unable to keep up with the growing media landscape. In particular, they tell me they don’t have the time, energy, or expertise to manage their companies’ accounts for Facebook and other social media.

Auctioneers aren’t alone in this. Many small business folks struggle with this important part of the operation.

To capitalize on that great need, a bevy of startups and major corporations have created automated marketing tools and programs. Constant Contact will post your email content on Facebook. Hootsuite will publish free to up to five of your social streams with one click of the Autoschedule button. ZipRecruiter promises to reach hundreds of sites and post to social media for you—with one click.

These automated services deliver on their promise of ease but can’t and usually don’t promise efficacy. They’re wise not to promise that, too. The current social media landscape makes robo-posting incredibly less valuable than native interactions.

1. Organic reach is a thing of the past.

Most automation tools focus on posting on your behalf and assume that your followers will engage because they follow your brand. That assumption is optimistic at best, especially on Facebook where less than 5% of your Facebook fans see your unpromoted posts. Just posting isn’t enough anymore.

2. Each media has its own culture.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube, and email each operate in different ecosystems with different formats, different purposes, and different audiences. Savvy marketers leverage the unique characteristics of each medium and adapt their messages to each. They know that the same statement auto-translated in all languages at once will inevitably cause part of your message to get lost in translation.

3. Targeting and measurement is platform-dependent.

Automated posts can’t be targeted, tracked, or analyzed like native posts can. Almost every business needs to reach new customers—people who have not yet done business with them or engaged with their social media accounts. To reach those people and to more efficiently interact with more of your ideal customers, you need the native platform tools.

4. Authenticity is more attractive.

The best social media marketing is less about broadcasting and more about providing something for the viewer. That could be entertainment, a solution to a problem, or something for their wish list. Social media users can tell when a message is generated for multiple platforms at once, and that content looks less organic, less personal.

5. Customer service can’t be automated.

While immediate responses can be set up with autoresponders, full problem resolution typically works only with communication between two humans. With Facebook’s immutable rating system and with hashtags making social media instantly searchable for negative reviews, it’s more important than ever to monitor and address the concerns from social media in person.

You have to go where your customers are.

When auctioneers and small business people used to tell me they don’t have time for social media, I told them to just skip it altogether. I can’t do that anymore. 78% of American adults are on social media. Infodocket claims that one out of every five page views on the Internet are on Facebook. With lookalike audiences and tracking pixels—both of which are free tools—small businesses can find new customers like no time in human history.

Statistic of Facebook Users

Take advantage of education.

So, the bad news is that you need humans running your social media. The good news is that there are fantastic resources to train you or your staff how to do it—not just to make sense of it but to thrive with it. You can find a lot of tutorials for free or cheap online. You can find education tailored to the auction industry in the Auction Marketing Management designation, too. I volunteer to teach in that environment (and pay my own travel expenses), because I strongly believe that targeted marketing and adapting to cultural trends is what will keep my clients and companies just like them in business—if not thriving in their marketplace for years to come.

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