Can Facebook Ads Actually Pay For Themselves By Driving Traffic To My Blog?

Is there a way for Facebook ads to actually pay for themselves?

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.

The other day, over coffee, we were talking about growing her traffic in order to generate more revenue and she asked 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 impression.

What do you think?

While I like the creative thinking, it all comes down to numbers.

Can a Facebook ad campaign drive enough traffic and ad impressions to pay for itself?Can a Facebook ad campaign drive enough traffic and ad impressions to pay for itself?

Understanding The Different Variables

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 it 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 short one and you have multiple ad blocks on your page, you might generate 3 impressions while the user reads your post.

If your blog article is a long one, then you might generate 5 impressions.

Revenue Per Thousand (RPM) – 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 5 impression on the long blog post, this means you will need 200 page views to generate 1000 impressions.

If your RPM is $5, then the 200 page views and corresponding 1000 impressions will earn you $5.

Monthly Ad Budget – This is the amount of money you are willing to spend each month on your Facebook ads.

You'll need to set a Facebook ad buget in order to determine how much traffic you'll need.You’ll need to set a Facebook ad budget in order to determine how much traffic you’ll need.

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.

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.

Pages per session in Google Analytics can help you estimate how many impressions a user will see in a session.Pages per session in Google Analytics can help you estimate how many impressions a user will see in a session.

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 5 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 * 5 = 5.7. Let’s round that up to 6.

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.

Bust out that calculator, we're about to do some math!Bust out that calculator, we’re about to do some math!

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 5 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 3,508 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 3,508 clicks from Facebook at a cost of $.25 per click, that means we would need to spend $877 in Facebook ads per month to generate $100 of ad revenue at a $5 RPM.

Are Facebook Ads A Good Way To Drive Ad-Revenue Generating Traffic?

Well, yes and no.

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 $877 to generate $100 in ad revenue.

And that’s if you can get a $.25 PPC rate AND the resulting visitors view 1.14 pages, rather than just a single page.

In this scenario, PPC ads, whether on Facebook, Twitter, Google AdWords, YouTube, or LinkedIn would just not be worth it.

Are There Ways To Make PPC Ads Worthwhile?

Definitely.

Are there ways to make Facebook ads actually pay for themselves?Are there ways to make Facebook ads actually pay for themselves?

Combine PPC With EMail Marketing

What if you could get 5% of your visitors to your site to add their email address to your mailing list that you send out once a week and 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 750 more 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 ~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. Since we have 5 ads on the page, that means only 2,000 page views.

At 1.14 pages per session, that means we need to budget for 1,754 clicks from Facebook at $.25 per click, which means our budget needs to be $438.

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.

Just Buy Traffic

DO NOT DO THIS.

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

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.

Targeting your Facebook fans can decrease your overall ad costsTargeting your Facebook fans can decrease your overall ad costs

Convert Them 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

The Wrap Up

So, the final answer is really no.

Not even a high-traffic, low RPM blogger has a good chance of just buying Facebook clicks and generating enough revenue to cover the costs and make a profit.

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!

Cheers!

–Sean

Content So Good You Can Almost Taste It!

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Comments And Reactions

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