Adventures in FaceBook advertising

FaceBookI serve on the Council of the Society of Australian Genealogists and one of the issues we are facing, as do all similar societies, is how to attract new members in the digital age.

I created a page on FaceBook a few months ago for the Society which you can see here. I created a group first, not realising that a page would be better. As of last night the group had 76 members and the page had 40 fans.

Not going to save the Society that way, am I!

Last night I bit the bullet and experimented with ads for the Society page. I have targeted it at people in Australia of any age and any gender, resulting in a target of about 200,000 people. I used the keywords “genealogy”, “family history”, and “research”. I left the default amount for cost per click and changed the maximum per day to $5, down from $25.

The results are encouraging, but it is an expensive way to advertise for a NFP (Not For Profit) to sustain, especially if the costs are being borne, as currently, by a volunteer, ie, me. I can afford $5 per day for a couple of days, but not as an ongoing campaign, and neither can the Society.

Here are the results so far:

Results of SAG ad campaign as at 10:20am

Results of SAG ad campaign as at 10:20am

In the 14 hours since the campaign started we have increased the number of fans by two as the result of 10 clicks on the ad (if I am reading the results correctly) for a cost of USD3.91.

Of course, new fans of the FaceBook page doesn’t translate to new members of the Society, and it is just as likely that the two new fans are current members of the Society who hadn’t known we had a presence in FaceBook.

I will leave it running a bit longer, and then I will change the parameters to target older people, who are statistically more likely to be interested in family history. Of course, I have a weekend coming up tonight which may change the results.

Stay tuned!

The inevitable has struck – advertising on blogs

As much as I dislike advertising when it interrupts my day-to-day life I recognise that it is an inevitable part of life. When I’m watching TV I don’t mind when ads appear between shows (and in fact I resent it when they don’t as it doesn’t give me time to go and do something I need to do) but I fiercely resent it when it is inserted within the show, especially movies. I particular resent ads that are placed at points in the program other than when the change of scene makes it obvious that the ad should have been placed there.

So, anyway, I dislike ads but I live with them. This policy has now spilled over into my blogs, including this one. In the past I have half-heartedly inserted an ad in the left column of this blog and another one, and have not, until yesterday, done anything to find out how successful (or not) the ad has been. 

My lack of follow-up has been for a number of reasons:

  1. My general dislike of advertising
  2. My inablility to keep track of the changes in affiliate websites and who is responsible for which advertising company
  3. My inability to remember ids and passwords once I do find the website responsible
  4. My feeling of  despair when I do get into the website responsible

Advertising for Ancestry, GenesReunited and the Origins Network are all controlled by a thing called Commission Junction. Whenever I manage to find and log into this website it has seemed overwhelmingly impossible, as the first thing it shows me as a default is the first page of a long list of advertisers (mostly in the States) that have no relevance to me whatsoever. Finding advertisers I am interested in has been equally difficult. I take one look and then I run away and do something else instead.

World Vital Records has changed from whoever it used to be to the Google Affiliate Network. I’ d never gotten around to doing what I had to do to move to this new mob. Then there is Google Adsense – all those ads you see down the side of the page, and elsewhere. And Google Adwords. And Amazon Associates….

Yesterday I spent a large chunk of the day sorting it all out. It seems I used to have Google Adsense ads but stopped a few months ago. I bit the bullet and signed up for Google Adwords for my business website. I found an ad I liked for the Origins Network and put that in a couple of places. I found a plugin for WordPress, the software that brings you this blog, that will insert an ad in old posts. An example of that ad appears below (in theory, Google ads don’t appear immediately).

It seems the secret to Commission Junction is to select the By Relationship tab, and so I just see the three companies I have relationships with, namely AncestryGenesReunited and the Origins Network, instead of the thousands I don’t want a relationship with. Why didn’t I see that before???! Here are some ads from each of these:


Discover your ancestors at Genes

Go to Irish Origins - Trace your origins online

Aren’t they pretty? And one for World Vital Records:

Who's in Your Family Tree?

Hmm, not what I was expecting. Unfortunately they don’t show you the ad, there’s just a description, although perhaps that depends on which browser I’m using. How about this one?

Search Box Images

It’s a different way to go, sure. I’ve also had a look at the affiliate program for FindMyPast, the UK company, but it seems too much hassle for little benefit. They use a different company called Affiliate Window and want me to pay £5 just to join, and they only make payments when my account reaches £100. I don’t expect that I will ever get to this level so the whole thing seems pointless.

Amazon Associates controls the commission you get if clicking on a picture of a book in your library in LibraryThing takes the reader to Amazon and they buy the book. I have never earned any money this way, but the system is there.

So, dear reader, you will see more ads than you used to. In the current economic climate (don’t you get sick of reading that phrase, and others like it) I need to consider alternate streams of income, although “stream” is an unrealistically optimistic word. Trickle, perhaps. I hope they are not intrusive, and I hope you will let me know if you think they are.

Here is an example from Google Adsense. I will be interested to see what the ad is.

Are ads on websites bad?

I’ve been struggling with this question for a long time now. I’ve started sneaking small ads for Ancestry and GenesReunited on my website and blogs which, incidently, don’t work in Firefox V3. If you want to avoid advertising perhaps that is the browser to use!

Why would I do that, if I think that they’re bad? Well, I’ve decided that they are not necessarily so bad. I use the internet a lot and most ads don’t bother me. The ones I don’t like are the ones on FaceBook that have a bigger button than the function of the page I am on so that I click on the wrong button, and some of the more annoying flashing moving banners along the top of eBay pages.

So I figure that if I avoid these types of ads I won’t annoy readers of my sites. And I might even make some money from them. We’ll see.