By Simon Mansell, CEO, TBG Digital

It was John Wanamaker, considered by many to be the father of advertising, who over a century ago famously quipped: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”. While that may have been true then, it certainly is no longer the case today — especially in the realm of social media advertising. The popularity and unique characteristics of social networking sites is transforming the advertising industry and with it established methods of reaching consumers. The dilemma facing marketers is not whether to advertise on Facebook but how much of their advertising budget they allocate to Facebook advertising and the best approach to adopt in order to generate maximum returns.

Why Facebook?

With 550 million users worldwide, Facebook is an alluring and compelling advertising platform. Unlike traditional advertising outlets such as print or television, Facebook is a real-time, fast-moving and constantly changing environment. The ability to pick and chose who you interact with based on common interests or other characteristics, the ease with which one can reach individuals beyond physical borders and geographic boundaries, and the speed with which information can be relayed across groups and individuals has created an advertising platform that is unparalleled. Facebook’s success is in part a reflection of the changes in society generally and an acknowledgement that individuals are increasingly choosing to interact with others on their terms. Moreover, it’s not enough to simply appeal to an individual’s interests, you need to appeal to their fans as well. For advertisers, this marks a seismic shift in the way they identify and approach potential customers and buyers.

Issues & Approach

For advertisers considering Facebook, the stumbling block can be the approach and doubts around the potential return. The sheer scope and fluid nature of Facebook can make targeting individuals a daunting prospect. Technology is often touted as the solution but in this instance the technology is pivotal to not only the approach but the success and return of any Facebook advertising programme. It underpins the key success factors, namely speed, scalability, adaptability and creativity.

We developed One Media Manager, an automated program for social media advertising, in recognition of the fact that one size does not fit all and in part because of the limitations we found in using Facebook’s own technology. Whereas it can take 3 minutes to create an advert using Facebook’s self serve tool, we can create 10,000 adverts in 3 minutes using One Media Manager. Using our technology platform we are able to micro-target and geo-target individuals and are able to pursue a multi-variant testing programme that allows us to very quickly identify which adverts are working and which ones are not. This improves advert relevancy, increases CTR and delivery and lowers CPC/CPA. It is precisely because of the technology that we can optimise well-performing combinations, scale up delivery and generate fantastic results for our clients.

The results that we achieved have not only allayed the concerns of many of our clients, but have actually prompted them to invest a greater proportion of their advertising budget into Facebook campaigns. We ran a campaign recently for an international telecom brand over a holiday season period. They saw a reduction in the CPA by 50% and a 20-fold increase in volume of sales. This was for a product line that was considered unsalable. By creating a specialised product offer aimed at relevant target audiences the campaign became so effective, it caught the attention of other product managers and we have expanded the concept of specialised handsets for specific groups considerably. By applying technology, we can create and simultaneously place over 27,000 adverts, each of which is tailored to a unique audience.


There’s no doubt that the advent of Facebook has changed the rules. The question is no longer whether to advertise on Facebook or if the returns can be realised. Instead, the question is how much should one advertise and how best to go about it. Getting face-time from a Facebook audience can be incredibly difficult but an approach based on a solid, flexible technology platform can deliver incredible results.

The key lies in personalising the message in way that resonates with the individual and adapting your message and pitch hundreds of times a minute so that you genuinely appeal to the aspirations, needs and interests on the individual. For this, technology is critical. One Media Manager fuses the best aspects of paid search and display advertising to deliver a structured, managed approach that delivers. If John Wanamaker was alive today he would know with absolute certainty which half of his advertising spend was working for him. I also suspect I know where he would choose to put his advertising spend.