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Advertising Your Book on Facebook or Goodreads

22 July 2011

Many authors have received pitches from Facebook or Goodreads about buying advertisements and wondered how well those work.

The most common type of ad FB or GR offers is called a Cost-per-Click ad or CPC. Your ad appears all over the place, but you don’t pay unless someone clicks on your ad and is connected to wherever you decide to send them to learn more about (and hopefully buy) your book.

So, if 100 people see your ad and one clicks on it, you pay 25 cents (or whatever price) for that click and nothing for the 99 people who didn’t click. Your “clickthrough rate” would be 1% in the example.

Commercial advertisers love CPC ads because they only pay if someone comes to their site. Passive Guy hasn’t been in the clickthrough business lately, but the cost-per-click amount can be very high for popular terms. For example, on Google, the king of CPC, “insurance” and related terms are the highest-cost ads. One recent report says “insurance” by itself can cost up to $54.91 per click. If you write a book about insurance, Passive Guy recommends you don’t advertise on Google.

Average clickthrough rates across all types of terms are an overall indicator of how effective a given site is as a venue for advertising. An effective site for advertising will have, on average, high click-through rates for everything from McDonald’s to Harry Potter.

A CPC guru recently analyzed clickthrough rates for Facebook ads and he says they suck:

Well, the overall number of clicks compared to impressions above give their own story – response rates are low – around than 1 in 2000 page views results in an ad click2 No surprise since banner clickthrough rates are low and we’re mostly online to socialise.

. . . .

[Here’s a breakdown on Facebook CPC rates by age – draw your own conclusions on the age of your readers]

Link to the rest at Smart Insights

The guru’s observation that people go to Facebook to socialize is very important. If they’re looking for the latest party pictures or baby pictures, they’re not clicking on anybody’s ad. However, if people go to Goodreads to talk about books, is a Goodreads CPC ad a productive use of your money?

Mrs. PG is involved in a Goodreads CPC campaign right now and PG has been surprised at how low her clickthrough rates have been. On the other hand, since her campaign started, she’s seen a big increase in the number of people who have added her book to their wishlists.

It remains to be seen whether being on a wishlist translates into sales, but if Mrs. PG were to calculate a cost-per-wishlist rate, she’s barely paying anything to Goodreads.

PG would be happy to hear about results from anyone who has conducted an online ad campaign for their books with Facebook, Goodreads or anybody else.

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10 Comments to “Advertising Your Book on Facebook or Goodreads”

  1. Might I suggest a Goodreads giveaway over a Goodreads PPC ad? I gave away three copies of The Third and got over 600 people to add it to their wish list in 30 days. Total cost for me (including shipping the books to the winners) was about $20. I even got two stellar reviews from two of the people who read them.

    • Abel – Good point. She did a Goodreads giveaway at the same time which blurs the data on the CPC advertisement.

  2. Interesting article … Mrs. PG?

    Somehow my fiction brain had you as a former power broker attorney who had a road to Damascus moment and is now living in a remote cabin ala Ted K. with no running water or electricity … writing these pieces from a Starbucks 90 miles away from your shack … taking you days to get there and back on your bicycle.

    If there’s a Mrs. then there’s definitely running water … and electricity … and fully blinged out SUV’s (sorry, that last one was my own projecting)

    This changes everything.

    TGIF! c”,)

    p.e. I’d like to know the results of Mrs. PG’s ad – like Abel above, I’m running a giveaway and so far, encouraged by the results.

    • Gerard – I’m afraid I’m a little more prosaic than your image, although I can manage to bring about the no running water or electricity thing if I forget to pay the utilities bill.

  3. I think there’s some value in these ads that is not measurable. If you purchase a FB or Google ad that shows your book cover, you also get exposure each time the ad is viewed but not clicked. Each time a prospective reader (buyer) sees the ad, they become more and more familiar with it. In this sense, an unclicked ad functions as buzz – it breeds brand familiarity, increasing the chance that the user will eventually buy. Just a thought – I’m not sure if there are any studies on this or if there’s even a way to track it.

    • Melissa – I can see your point, but some testing indicates that at least frequent internet users are completely blind to most ads. Researchers can’t find any evidence the ad made any impression at all.

      As an experiment, see if you can remember any ads on the last commercial web site you visited.

      • It’s good to know researchers didn’t find evidence that the ads made impressions on users. The ads I remember are the ones I see frequently and repetitively. I think I am blind to most online ads, but a few do catch my attention and are probably most effective if I see them many times. Thanks for sharing all this information — It’s valuable for writers who need to make decisions about where to invest in promotions.

        • Glad to help, Melissa. Even in less easy to ignore environments, like DVR-free television, advertising people estimate you need to see a commercial at least six times before you notice it.

  4. I know my click-through rates for my first book ad on Facebook were abyssmal, andi saw virtually no sales at all after doing a Goodreads giveaway. I’ve wondered if doing several Goodreads giveaways in sucession would make a difference, since it would put the book cover and description in front of my audience several times. I’d be interested to know if this worked for anyone else.

  5. Try Project Wonderful.

    It’s a site organized for selling webcomic ads to other webcomics, but it has grown into a larger market. You bid to place your ad by the day — not by the click or by the view. And you can set automatic bidding to find either lots of small sites (A skyscraper ad on my webcomic currently is running at 4 cents/day) or you can target the big boys that get ten thousand to a million views per day. PW is a terrific service for advertisers on a tight budget.

    Federated Media is a similar service for professional sites; if you have the money you can place an ad on CNN.com or BoingBoing through FedMed. But that’s gonna cost you thousands of dollars. I believe FM prices their ads as CPC, which makes them a bit pricier also.

    I still think the YouTube trailer is the best advertising a book can have outside of word of mouth.

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