An entrepreneur in Albany, Calif., claims he got real humans to click on his Facebook ads marketing a yard sale he hosted. The venture then pulled in $10,000 in one day.
Brendan Irvin-Broque used to run a business called Cavern Records, selling vintage vinyl records, but he now works at a small technology company. He decided that it was time to get rid of some of his records, so he planned a vinyl records yard sale and advertised the event on Facebook, according to a post on his personal blog that later appeared on YCombinator's Hacker News page.
Irvin-Broque purchased $150 worth of Facebook ads targeting people who like record-related pages on Facebook, he said in the blog post. Three weeks later, 341 Facebook users had indicated they were “attending” his yard sale, with 104 “maybes.” The event, which lasted seven hours on a Saturday in May, according to its Facebook page, drew large crowds.
“They kind of looked like zombies (I mean, Saturday mornings can be rough), but I can attest that they were definitely not bots,” Irvin-Broque wrote of the record sale's customers. “At the end of the day, hundreds of happy customers later, I counted $10,000 in cash. Over 3,000 records sold in one afternoon. The majority of my customers came from Facebook Ads.”
“As far as I’m concerned, clicks coming from Facebook are the realest clicks in the game right now,” he added.
To be sure, Irvin-Broque’s opinion of Facebook ads isn’t exactly unbiased. PageLever, where he is the director of growth, according to his LinkedIn profile, works with companies to advertise on Facebook; it’s in his employer’s best interest to convince clients that Facebook ads work.
But Irvin-Broque’s experience stands out amid a flurry of doubts that Facebook ads actually help brands reach consumers. In May, General Motors pulled $10 million worth of ads on the social networking site, a move that undermined confidence in Facebook on the eve of its later botched IPO.
Earlier this month, a social media marketing consultant told the BBC that several Facebook campaigns he’s run for his clients generated engagement from users that appeared to be fake. One, going by the name Agung Pratama Sevenfoldism, showed his date of birth as 1997 and said he had been a manager at Chevron in 2010, the BBC noted.
The latest black eye to Facebook ads came earlier this week, when a Long Island technology startup called Limited Run announced that it was pulling its ads from the social network because it discovered that the vast majority of its ad clicks were coming from Web robots rather than human Facebook users.
On the heels of Facebook's announcement of its second quarter earnings late last week, the social network’s stock tumbled to 43 percent below its IPO price Tuesday, a new low for the company. Analysts pointed to concerns over slowing advertising revenue as the primary cause of the share price drop. But if Facebook can generate more satisfied customers like Irvin-Broque, perhaps it can reverse that trend.