The TRUTH about Facebook ads 2024

I’ll cut straight to the chase. Facebook Traffic ads are now not working well, but it’s only one type of ad: Traffic ads.

As for Bloomberg, completely ignore that article because Bloomberg appears to have a problem with Meta/Facebook. Bloomberg has been posting dire statements about Facebook for several years now.
The issue.
It's not that there is an issue with Facebook. To the contrary, Facebook has improved, but this negatively impacts authors selling on the retailers. Why?
There is one very simple reason. To understand, we need to understand exactly what Traffic  ads are. Traffic ads are the ads that authors use to run ads to their books on Amazon or one of the other retailers.
Traffic ads are the only choice you have. You cannot use a Sales ad to the retailers because the purchase event needs to happen on your own store. That means you control the customer; you control the store; you own the pixel to that store.
None of this is the case when you’re selling on the retailers.
Okay then, authors selling on Amazon and the other retailers must use Traffic ads and cannot use Sales sets.
What is wrong with Traffic ads?
Here is the catch.
Traffic ads are not meant for sales.
Let me repeat this because everything pivots on this one fact.
Traffic ads are not meant for sales.
Traffic ads are meant for clicks.
So, when you run a Sales ad to your own store, Facebook does its very best to get you sales.
When you run a Traffic ad to the retailers, Facebook does its very best to get you clicks – likes, comments, and shares. It does not do anything at all to get you sales because, by the very fact you are running a Traffic ad, Facebook thinks you do not want sales.
This is super important. Facebook only does what you tell it to do. When you run a Traffic  ad on Facebook. Facebook thinks you do not want sales. It thinks you want clicks and does its very best to get you clicks.
This is the issue.
When you’re selling on the retailers, you do want sales, but you’re telling Facebook you don’t want sales.
Traffic ads have absolutely nothing to do with sales. Authors selling on the retailers don’t have a choice but to use traffic ads.
That’s a problem to start with, a major problem.
So why are traffic ads getting worse?
The answer is simple. Facebook‘s machine learning has improved significantly. It’s improved to the degree that Facebook is doing away with targeting.
Facebook does not need targeting for Sales ads. Facebook does not need targeting for Traffic ads to find you clickers.
However, when you’re an author selling on the retailers and using Traffic ads, this is somewhat of a disaster for you. 
This is why targeting for traffic ads is important
Traffic ads are for those who click – like, click, share, and comment. Facebook knows those precise people who do this. Sure some of them will also buy but Facebook isn’t looking for buyers. To the contrary, Facebook is looking for people who habitually click
And it’s not just looking for people who click – Facebook is looking for absolutely anything that will click and there are plenty of bots out there. That is why the conventional wisdom for Traffic ads has always been to turn off audience network due to bots.
So then, when you're selling on the retailers, you are running Traffic ads which are not meant for sales, but you actually want sales. Facebook will show it to anyone or anything that habitually clicks.
For years, authors selling on the retailers could improve the ads' prospects by narrowing the targeting. With wide targeting to Traffic ads, Facebook has a wide pool of clickers.
You do not want that, but yes, Facebook thinks you do because you’re running Traffic  ads.
Your only hope of doing better with Traffic ads is with targeting.
With targeting, you are more likely to find a pool of people who are likely to buy, not just click.
But here’s the kicker – Facebook is doing away with targeting.
The consequence? It’s becoming increasingly harder for authors running Traffic  ads to the retailers to get good results. And it’s going to get worse.
But this is not anything going wrong with Facebook. To the contrary, this is Facebook improving its ads.
Remember, Traffic ads are not meant for sales. When you tell Facebook you want aTraffic  ad, Facebook assumes sales are the last thing on your mind. Traffic ads are for clicks.
When you run a sales ad, Facebook does its best to get you sales.
Yes, you are in a Catch-22 and there is no solution. Looking at your clickthrough rate is no indication because Facebook is trying to find you people who will click. The only way to see if your Traffic ads are working is to look at your actual sales and try to figure out which ones were from Facebook alone.
You could try tio optimise your creatives until the cows came home, but you would be optimising your creatives for clickers not for sales. This is, and always has been, this issue with Traffic  ads.
But as I said, it’s getting worse and will continue to get worse.
And all of this is cold hard facts, not my opinion.

Let's recap.

1. Traffic ads are meant for clicks NOT for sales.

2. When yuou sell on the retailers, you MUST run Traffic ads and CANNOT run Sales ads.

3. Facebook is doing away with targeting.

4. This means it is increasingly harder to get sales from Traffic ads (but this is because Facebook is improving.)

Here is my video on this on my YouTube channel for Authors Selling Direct

Sales ads.
If you go to my YouTube channel, you will see I’m always banging on about this. Facebook Sales ads are absolutely nothing like Traffic ads - they have different purposes and they cannot work alone.
For somebody to be successful selling direct they need three things. First, they need properly set up product pages. These product pages need to be set up correctly – not just set up  – and need to have good SEO among other things. One example of a badly setup product page is to have a download image above the fold. This is an image of how to download your books and it is just below the buy buttons which is a prime place of Real Estate. These images are highly negative for SEO and also in contravention to the WCAG 2 web accessibility guidelines and regulations. Avoid these images.
There are many issues to consider with a product page such as removing the quantity selector on ebooks and having a properly converting buy button colour. This is a buy button colour that has evidence not hearsay. I could go on and on for pages about what should and should not be done with product pages.
The next thing necessary to have in place for a successful store is Klaviyo (or Omnisend, but to save saying that I’ll just mention Klaviyo from now on).
This is your specialist ecommerce email and SMS provider. No, it’s absolutely nothing like Mailchimp etc. It’s not just for sending campaigns or doing a welcome flow/automation. Far, far from it.
Klaviyo does so much more, including your abandonment flows – browse abandonment, abandoned cart, and abandoned checkout. By the way, don’t confuse the latter two.
If  somebody from your Facebook ad lands on your store and they look at your product but don’t buy. there’s a 20% chance that Klaviyo will pick this person up and send them a browse abandonment flow. And no, this person does not have to be subscribed to you at all - the 20% is for people who are not subscribed to you, and yes, it’s perfectly legal but this is not the scope of this blog post.

And don’t even think about running a Facebook ad until you have all the above in place. They won’t work anywhere near as well.
And never under any circumstances run a Traffic ad to your store. If you want your store to tank, that’s the best way to do it. You will stuff up your data.
There is plenty of appalling advice at there for sales ads and for setting up stores now that selling direct is the hot new thing. People are jumping on the bandwagon, appointing themselves as experts and giving advice contrary to what it should be.
In ecommerce, to be successful all you have to do is follow sound ecommerce principles. Do not follow secret methods or special sauce methods. People follow these secret sauce methods and then are surprised their ads don’t work. Of course their ads won’t work. It’s a given.
And people who are doing well on the retailers always do well when they first start a store. Why? Because they are leveraging their hot audiences. With sales ads, Facebook always manages to find hot and warm audiences when the ads  start, but those audiences are finite, so then Facebook goes looking through the cold audiences for buyers. (Cold, warm, and hot audiences are the cornerstone of ecommerce – I have explained audiences here. )

So when somebody starts a store, and this is somebody who was doing well on the retailers, they will do well at first because they are leveraging their hot audiences. They could have a terribly set up store and no flows in place, doing everything wrong, but hot audiences will buy.
However, hot audiences are finite - these stores won't work with cold audiences. These authors' terrible messes of stores will variably tank and some authors will go back to selling on Kindle Unlimited. I see this time and time again - it’s a given. It always happens.
It’s a logical progression.
So, if somebody says their sales ads have suddenly stopped working, they need to address their store. They need to fix their product pages, and they need to fix their  flows.

End of story. It’s simple. It’s not rocket science.
All the big Facebook ad agency heads such as Ben Heath have been saying Facebook is improving its machine learning.
Books are products not magical unicorns. It’s not one set of rules for books and another set of rules for other products  -every product is treated somewhat differently, but they’re all products at the end of the day.

Critical thinking is needed in business.
Please use some critical thinking. Hypothetically, if somebody who is brand new to ecommerce suddenly declares they are a selling direct expert (and maybe is recommended by those who receive a hefty affiliate commission, disclosed or undisclosed) and then after a while fails at it – why is anybody surprised? And why does anybody place any weight to the words that it’s Facebook’s fault or selling direct’s fault?

 If you're selling direct, access my Free Training here.

I'm a Shopify Partner, a Klaviyo Partner, and a Partner Member of The Alliance of independent Authors.

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