Sam Harrelson



Sam Harrelson

Do Facebook Ads Really Work?

Within the advertising industry, the debate about whether advertising works on Facebook is not new. A survey last year showed over 60 percent of small business owners felt advertising on Facebook was ineffective. The lawsuit takes it a step further, saying Facebook is misleading advertisers.

Source: Does Facebook Really Work? People Question Effectiveness Of Ads : NPR

Like anything else, you do need some expertise to make Facebook or Instagram or Snap or Google or Pinterest ads work. We are finishing a period where these advertising companies have held that “ANYONE CAN DO IT! IT’S SO EASY! JUST SIGN UP AND TELL US WHO YOU WANT TO TARGET!” with regards to their ads and effectiveness.

But that’s simply not true. I could probably re-roof our home. But I’m not going to spend the time, effort, and money trying to do that job myself. I’m going to hire someone who knows what they are doing.

Same with social media advertising and marketing. That’s how I pay our mortgage (and for our new roof) every month!




Harrelson Agency and Google’s New Responsive Search Ads

At Harrelson Agency, we manage a number of Google Ads campaigns (formerly AdWords as of July 24, 2018) for clients. Simply put, there’s really no better way to drive web traffic to a site or a landing page regardless of your budget, size, or goal. Whether you’re selling stuff, raising awareness, or trying to get more people into the door of your business or church, there’s a clear return on investment for a well-run Google Ads campaign.

We’ve been writing, tweaking, and managing these ads for years. I often tell clients its part science and part art to make everything work correctly. That may change a little after today…

Consumers today are more curious, more demanding, and they expect to get things done faster because of mobile. As a result, they expect your ads to be helpful and personalized. Doing this isn’t easy, especially at scale. That’s why we’re introducing responsive search ads. Responsive search ads combine your creativity with the power of Google’s machine learning to help you deliver relevant, valuable ads.

Simply provide up to 15 headlines and 4 description lines, and Google will do the rest. By testing different combinations, Google learns which ad creative performs best for any search query. So people searching for the same thing might see different ads based on context.

Via Google Ads Blog

Google is rolling out its new “responsive search ads” from beta today, and it does have the potential to reshape a number of processes that marketers like us use for ad campaigns. I doubt that we’ll give up on the fun whiteboard sessions where we throw ideas into the open that produce the basis for most of our managed campaigns, and I’m sure I’ll still have those “shower moment” epiphanies where the perfect headline text pops into my mind as I’m applying shampoo, but I am excited about what this could mean for our clients.

There’s no doubt in my mind that a great deal of the processes we use to build websites or manage Ads campaigns on Google and Facebook or to create memorable billboard taglines or to even write strategic plan documents will be automated and “responsive” as Google says in the coming decade. That’s why I’m betting Harrelson Agency’s future on the future and making sure that I’m staying on top of everything AI and blockchain and machine learning and augmented reality that I can.

We’ve already seen the decimation of the website development industry at the hands of democratizing creative tools like Squarespace and Weebly and Wix (as much as I dislike their pedestrian designs…). We’ll continue to see the same in other areas of marketing and advertising.

It’s worth my time to think ahead both for my clients’ bottom lines as well as Harrelson Agency’s future.




How should we regulate Facebook and Google’s advertising platforms?

So how does Facebook’s ad system work? Well, just like Google, it’s accessed through a self-service platform that lets you target your audiences using Facebook data. And because Facebook knows an awful lot about its users, you can target those users with astounding precision. You want women, 30–34, with two kids who live in the suburbs? Piece of cake. Men, 18–21 with an interest in acid house music, cosplay, and scientology? Done! And just like Google, Facebook employed legions of algorithms which helped advertisers find their audiences, deliver their messaging, and optimize their results. A massive ecosystem of advertisers flocked to Facebook’s new platform, lured by what appeared to be the Holy Grail of their customer acquisition dreams: People Based Marketing!

via Lost Context: How Did We End Up Here? – NewCo Shift

I’m really torn on this one. John Battelle here (a tech publishing veteran who knows a good deal about online advertising) argues for more regulation and transparency of Facebook and Google’s advertising platforms.

I’ve seen how both Facebook and Google’s advertising platforms can work wonder for good causes like the nonprofits, religious group, and community organizations that are our clients. It’s wonderful to see the way that we can work miracles (hyperbole) to create new reach, fundraising, and awareness campaigns for these groups on a limited budget using Facebook Ads and AdWords. In the past, that would have required them to spend exponentially more on marketing and advertising. But now, we can help these groups grow on a shoestring. That’s a good thing.

However, we are at an inflection point.

I agree with Battelle on a theoretical layer, but there’s also the notion of democratic capitalism and the need to allow markets to flourish or wither based on their own actions (does our democracy value ethics, morality etc the same as it has and what does that mean for advertising?).

On the other hand, there are other advertising platforms that are major players in Asia and will be major players on a global scale soon such as Alibaba and Tencent and Rakuten. If we hamstring Google and Facebook, do we run the risk of advertisers abandoning those platforms for greener global pastures?

On the other hand, Russia interfered with our Presidential election and it’s no secret that politicians and special interest groups are doing bad things with these platforms.