Background Information: Why isn’t all Facebook Adverts traffic “valuable”?
In my previous blog post I discussed an oddity that I discovered with facebook adverts. It was apparent that the traffic Facebook adverts were sending to my affiliate page was bogus (Figure 1). Additionally, my tool taglogger recorded that there were several more visits to my mattress affiliate site than what facebook reported. Based on what I found online, I believe these additional visits were bots and facebook wasn’t charging me for the additional “clicks”, so I didn’t worry about them. However, there’s still the challenge of avoiding bogus facebook traffic. As you can see in the image below, I received 12 clicks from Facebook and the average session duration for these clicks was 0:00, which is extremely odd for real humans who visit a website (Figure 1). At least I would expect 1 of these 12 people to spend 1 second on my website!
Note: If you are new to facebook advertising, perhaps you should check out: Facebook Marketing All-in-One For Dummies
Figure 1. Traffic to my affiliate site from Facebook adverts in Experiment 1. Notice the average session duration of users according to google analytics.
So, to remedy this odd behavior of traffic from facebook, I read into the kind of traffic that facebook provides. Have you ever noticed the “Platforms” section when setting up your Facebook Ad Sets? Figure 2 shows that there are several different areas where Facebook will drive traffic to your adverts including Facebook feeds etc., Instagram, Messenger, and the Audience Network. Facebook, Instagram and messenger makes sense, but what is this “Audience Network”?
Figure 2. While setting up facebook adverts campaigns you can choose which platforms your advert will be displayed on.
Audience network represents 3rd party apps that are hooked into facebook and provide Facebook space for adverts. But this traffic may be unreliable.
Experimental Setup: Testing FB Adverts Platforms
To test whether audience network traffic was truly bogus, I ran the exact same advertisement as I did in my previous blog post and focused it on Facebook-only (no instagram or messenger traffic was utilized in either experiment 1 or in this second experiment). You’ll see the experimental setup below with the image utilized and the settings for ad sets/campaign. (Figures 3, 4, and 5)
Figure 3. Campaign setup for Experiment 2.
Figure 4. Setup of my Ad Set for Experiment 2.
Figure 5. Image of the advert itself that I utilized in this experiment.
Results & Discussion
The results were as I expected. Removing audience network traffic increased “real” visits to my affiliate site as shown in TagLogger and Google Analytics below (Figure 6 and 7). Compared to data from Experiment 1 (Baseline advert traffic)(Figure 1), now the Average session duration of visitors has increased. However, reading some more online, it seems like Google analytics has one challenge when providing data on website visits.
Google analytics can only provide session duration time if a visitor comes to a website and then navigates away from it. If the user stays on 1 page, Google analytics will note a session duration of 0:00.
Hence, my data might be skewed for Experiment 1; however, I’m still getting more valuable visitors in this experiment compared to my previous set. When I say “valuable visitors”, I mean that they are converting more to amazon than they did in Experiment 1, previously. This is shown below in my Taglogger tool data (Figure 6).
Additionally, based on the limitations I see with Google Analytics, I think I need to create a tool that determines a user’s session duration on my website. This will help me further track and assess the quality of visitors that my facebook adverts are providing.
Based on this experiment, it is likely that audience network traffic is unreliable however data may also be skewed due to Google Analytics user tracking. Further analysis with a custom user session tracking tool is necessary for conclusive data.
Figure 6. Taglogger captured information of how many “clicks” actually came to my mattress affiliate site via facebook adverts. Notice the number of click-throughs to Amazon from this traffic.
Figure 7. Google Analytics data for experiment 2 shows longer average session duration from traffic that isn’t coming through the “audience network”.
Further Discussion: “Bogus” Traffic
I think another method of avoiding useless traffic (besides changing platform selection) is to change the goal of the advert campaign. Since I chose “traffic” and “website clicks” as my campaign settings, I think facebook’s algorithms initially displayed my adverts on all platforms and then depending on which platform got me the most clicks for my spend, optimized my campaign to only use that platform. My hypothesis is shown in the Figure 8, below. Hence, because Facebook’s algorithm thought that it was giving me the best value-for-money, it kept displaying my advert on audience network platforms without knowing that the traffic coming from those networks was useless.
You might consider reading the book: Ultimate Guide to Facebook Advertising: How to Access 1 Billion Potential Customers in 10 Minutes (Ultimate Series)
Figure 8. Facebook’s algorithm might be optimizing for traffic from audience network based on my campaign settings. Perhaps changing the “goal” of the campaign is an alternative to removing the audience network.
Success with TagLogger
I’m really impressed with how useful my simple tool has been. It allowed me to determine that a lot of bot traffic was visiting my website through facebook adverts (Figure 1 and 6). I also determined that removing certain platforms from my Facebook adverts would improve the quality and conversions of users visiting my affiliate site. You are welcome to try TagLogger out if you’d like, by registering here.
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Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.