This one is a really good question that I got from a friend of mine who is a blogger.
After blogging for about 5 years, she recently started monetizing her content through an ad program. She doesn’t promote any affiliate programs, so the only revenue that her blog generates is through ad revenue. We were recently talking about growing her traffic with the goal of generating more blog ad revenue and she asked me the following question:
Would it be worth it for me to run a Facebook ad campaign that is focused on driving traffic to my blog? That way, I am paying for more traffic, which generates more page views and, in turn, more ad impressions. The more ad impressions I generate, the more revenue I get.
What do you think?
While I like the creative thinking, it all comes down to numbers. To be honest, I was highly skeptical that Facebook ads alone could generate enough traffic at a low enough cost in order to be profitable.
Most bloggers are constantly wrestling with the question of how to get traffic from Facebook and Facebook ads are one of the easiest solutions. While Facebook ads have been a great tool for bloggers who want to raise awareness of their site or for eCommerce sellers to capture the interest of potential buyers, as a traffic-drive jut for ad impressions, I’m not sure it would work out.
But, I was curious to see how whether the math worked. Can Facebook drive more traffic to a blog and generate more revenue than the cost of the ads?
Understanding The Different Variables For Online Ads
Okay, before we get into the math (I promise, it’s not complex math), it’s important that we understand some key terms that are used in calculating whether running Facebook ads just for the purpose of driving traffic for ad revenue would be a wise proposition.
Impressions – An impression is simply a single view of an ad on your blog page. If your blog article is a very short one and you have multiple ad blocks on your page, you might generate 6-8 impressions while the user reads your post.
If your blog article is a long one, then you might generate 15-20 impressions while the reader scrolls through your post.
The more ad impressions your post generates, the more revenue you earn.
Revenue Per Thousand (RPM) – Yes, the technical term is Revenue per Mille, but that also means revenue per thousand. In ad terms, revenue per thousand means how much money you will be paid for each one thousand ad impressions on your pages. Using the 15 impression on the long blog post, this means you will need 67 page views to generate 1000 impressions.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Some ad partners calculate RPM as the revenue per thousand page views, rather than ad impressions. You need to check with your ad partner to see whether they measure RPM by impressions or by page view.
If your RPM is $5, then the 67 page views and corresponding 1000 impressions will earn you $5.
See. I told you the math wasn’t that hard. Stay with me, though.
Monthly Ad Budget – This is the amount of money you are willing to spend each month on your Facebook ads. Just for round numbers, say you want to limit your ad spend to $100.
Cost Per Click (CPC) – This is the amount of money you will pay Facebook, Google, Twitter, Pinterest, or any other ad provider when they drive a user to click your advertisement and come to your site.
So, if your ad budget is $100 per month and the average cost-per-click is $.25 for your target audience, then your $100 will buy you approximately 400 clicks to your Website. Make sense?
NOTE: $.25 per click is a good place to start when estimating CPC on Facebook. Some segments are more competitive and, therefore harder to generate clicks, and can go up to $.50-$1.50 per click.
If your CPC is higher than that, you need to rethink who you are targeting. If you can get down to $.25, you’re in good shape.
Anything lower than that is awesome!
Pages Per Session – This is the number of pages the average person browses on your site once the get there.
NOTE: You can get your pages per session by looking in your Google Analytics dashboard.
Average Impressions Per Session – This one you simply derive by taking your estimate number of ad impressions per page and multiplying it by the number of pages per session for each user.
So for the long blog post that generates 15 impressions per page view and the Pages/Session in the image above, the average number of impressions a visitor would see during a session would be 1.14 * 15 = 17.1. Let’s round that down to 17.
NOTE: Yes, those are my real numbers for my blog. I have a high bounce rate, which leads to a lower pages per session. If you want to read whether I’m concerned about that, here’s a post that gives you the details.
Doing The Math And Calculating The Benefit Of Facebook Ads
Okay, now that we have all the variables, all we need to do is put them together, analyze the cost/benefit and then determine whether it would be worth running Facebook ads to drive traffic to your blog.
To start, let’s define a revenue target of $100 per month. This means we want our ad provider to cut us a check for $100 at the end of the month.
In order to make $100 from our ads at a $5 RPM, we need to drive 20,000 ad impressions on the blog. At an average of 15 impressions per page, that means we need to generate 4,000 page views.
Since a click from Facebook would start a session that would garner 1.14 pages views, we would take that 4,000 / 1.14 and come to the understanding that we need to 1,334 clicks from Facebook.
NOTE: Remember, each click from Facebook isn’t necessarily going to just look at one page. That’s why we use the average pages/session to calculate how many clicks we need.
Okay, so if we need to generate 1,334 clicks from Facebook at a cost of $.25 per click, that means we would need to spend $416 in Facebook ads per month to generate $100 of ad revenue at a $5 RPM.
Umm…that doesn’t make sense. No blogger in their right mind would spend $400+ in order to generate $100 in revenue.
So, Are Facebook Ads A Good Way To Drive Ad-Revenue Generating Blog Traffic?
Well, yes and no. Facebook can be a good way to drive traffic, and even earn revenue, so long as it’s not JUST for the purpose of generating ad revenue.Is it possible for Facebook ads to drive enough traffic to your site to pay for themselves in ad revenue? Click To Tweet
In the very straight-forward example that we just laid out, the answer would be a definitive no. There is no point in spending $400 to generate $100 in ad revenue.
And that’s if you can get a $.25 per-click ad rate AND the resulting visitors view 1.14 pages, rather than just a single page. Any increases in the pay-per-click ad rate or decreases in the average pages per session and the numbers get worse.
In this scenario, PPC ads, whether on Facebook, Twitter, Google AdWords, YouTube, or LinkedIn would just not be worth it.
How Can I Make Facebook Ads A Worthwhile Investment For My Blog?
The good news is there are ways. The key is to look at the value of engaging a Facebook user beyond just ad impressions.
Combining PPC With EMail Marketing
What if you could get 5% of the visitors to your site to also add their email address to your mailing list that you send out once a week, and that email has a 15% click-through rate?
If your list has 1000 contacts on the list, then each week that list will generate another 150 new sessions and, on that long blog post, generate 22,500 more ad impressions.
At a 5% subscription rate, you would see ~175 new contacts each month. For a moment, let’s discount the cost of your email marketing tool (although, unless you are on a free account, you’ll need to factor it in eventually).
If 15% of your 175 contacts click-through 4 times each month, that’s an additional ~100 sessions per month and an additional ~1,500 impression.
Increase Your RPM
Ad programs love sites with high traffic. The more you grow your traffic, the more likely you will be able to increase your RPM. Some ad programs even give you additional revenue for sticking with them longer.
If you can increase your RPM to $10, then only need to drive 10,000 ad impressions to earn $100. Since we have 15 ads on the page, that means only 667 page views.
At 1.14 pages per session, that means we need to budget for 585 clicks from Facebook at $.25 per click, which means our budget needs to be $146. That’s $146 in ad spend to generate $100 in revenue.
Still not feasible, but you can see that there is a point at which a high RPM might make it worth it.
Decrease Your Cost-Per-Click
We’re using the $.25 per click number, because it’s a pretty fair price to pay for a click in most segments. If you can create amazing ads for a segment that is not very competitive, then you might be able to drop that down to $.15 per click.
Combine that with a high RPM and you might be able to make the business case. At a $10 RPM with a $.15 cost-per-click number, then the scenario is brighter.
At 1.14 pages per session, that means we need to budget for 585 clicks from Facebook at $.15 per click, which means our budget needs to be $87.75. That’s $87.75 in ad spend to generate $100 in revenue.
Whoa. That actually works. In that scenario, Facebook ads would drive enough traffic to your blog post to actually generate enough ad impressions to turn a profit.
The question is whether you can meet all those criteria. Some can, others can’t. You’ll need to do the math for your own blog to evaluate whether it’s possible.
Build A Facebook Following
Targeting your ads at fans of your current Facebook page or boosting your Facebook posts can drive down your cost-per-click because these are folks who already know, and likely trust your brand.
Because they have a much higher propensity to click-through, they won’t cost as much to incentivize. They also might be much more willing to browse more pages, increasing your average page per session numbers.
Essentially, engaged Facebook fans usually mean lower cost-per-click number and higher pages per sessions, which means more revenue.
Convert Your Facebook Fans To Customers
Okay, okay…The point of this article is to purely analyze whether ad revenue paid to Facebook can pay for itself. I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t point out that any sale you make from the click-through would obviously offset the costs of advertising.
It’s hard for bloggers that don’t sell anything to make money simply by paying Facebook to drive traffic, so that’s where other revenue streams come into play. These might include:
- eCommerce sales on your site
- Affiliate sales by driving traffic to other sites and getting those visitors to purchase a product
- Selling eBooks or downloadable content
By converting your Facebook fans into customers, you create future opportunities to sell additional products to them, which means more revenue.
Can I Just Buy Traffic To My Blog And Generate Ad Impressions?
DO NOT DO THIS! SERIOUSLY!
If you are participating in an ad revenue program and you buy traffic on Fiverr or some other shady site, you risk being suspended from your program and forfeiting all of your earnings.
It is not worth risking your blog revenue by buying shady traffic that is most likely from bots.
Again…just don’t do it.Buying traffic to your blog is a quick way to pollute your metrics and get penalized by Google. Click To Tweet
The Wrap Up
So, the final answer is maybe. It all depends on your blog, your traffic, your fans, and how much it will cost you to generate traffic to your site.
A high-traffic, high-RPM blogger who can generate ads with a low cost-per-click has a good chance of just buying Facebook clicks and generating enough revenue to cover the costs and make a profit.
A low-traffic, low-RPM blogger whose ads have a high cost-per-click, on the other hand, probably can’t make the numbers work.
If you think I’m wrong, I would be happy to hear where my math went wrong or how you might be getting enough low-cost traffic from Facebook to cover the costs of the ads through ad revenue. If that’s the case, just leave a comment and share your experiences.
NOTE: The point of this article is to show you how to calculate your ad budget and ad revenue, as well as familiarize you with some of the variables involved. You’ll need to do the math for your own traffic, budget, and CPC to see whether you would be able to make the case.
If you can, definitely let us know!