21 May, 2012

Facebook's Stinky Ad Creation Process

Facebook is notorious for making changes to their (recently IPO'ed) platform, without much user input. I understand that users don't necessarily have the future of the platform in mind, but I don't understand how facebook could neglect the needs of its advertisers so blatantly.

Their main competitor, Google AdWords, has built in some support offerings (e.g. Google Engage, which my ad agency is a part of) and extensive documentation around their platform. Although much younger, if Facebook plans to get more $ out of its advertiser platform, I would think it should offer some type of support or, at the very least, a quality service.

Here's the story. I went to create an ad today for an event that Rachman and I are hosting this Saturday. I'm not new to Facebook ads by any means - in fact we have been running ads for this very event for the past several weeks, but wanted to test some new targeting and images.

Challenge #1: Can't create an ad for an event in the Firefox browser.


Until recently, something was broken in all browsers except - gasp - Internet Explorer!? that prevented ads for events from even being created. Event ads are unique in that they allow a user to click to RSVP right within the ad. Facebook gets some points for having a direct event advertisement platform that ties in nicely with the millions of users that manage their social calendars with Facebook. However, as an advertiser, if I can't create my ad - how are you going to get my money from advertising? Silly silly.

Second point: generally speaking, Facebook support for all major browsers seems to be inconsistent. Any [good] web designer knows to test in all the major browsers. I have three of them installed on my Mac, and more virtually. This allows me to test client projects on many browsers before "launch." It also allowed me to create my event ad today... go figure.

Perpetually Loading - Facebook Ad Creation in Firefox

Challenge #2: Facebook ad provides a mere 110 x 80 pixels of space for an image.


Google AdWords are generally text-only, so I guess I'm happy Facebook allows an image at all. Plus, I figure it's a nice exercise, to design within such small real estate. But when I go to upload my nicely-designed ad and the text is all blurry, it's a little concerning. I want to make sure the users can actually read what I'm advertising. So I search the small database of Facebook answers and come across this nice little entry: https://www.facebook.com/help/?faq=103816146375741

Challenge #3: Only 5kb for an image? What are we, in 1999 again?


I'll just optimize the image using pre-millenium standards... severe compression, limiting colors, saving as GIF. This work was necessary back in the day when people had dial-up modems and used AOL... but I'll do it, if it will make my tiny text easier to read.

Challenge #4: No matter what I do, the red-on-black text is still blurry.


I change the text to blue. It doesn't look nearly as cool as my original version, and is now quite different from the original branding I had intended. Red text is much sexier. No, really, from a psychological perspective - it is. It signifies energy, movement, excitement, and life. Exactly what we're trying to convey.

Not fine.

Facebook, if you're going to allow images in your ads, please let us visually-inclinded advertisers create "eye-catching," attractive images that will increase click-through rates and get us more event attendees!

End of rant.

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