Avoiding the Facebook "Adpocalypse:" 3 Secrets to Ramping Up Traffic While Lowering Acquisition Costs



"Yeah, it's great! You only have to pay when someone clicks on your ad. Best thing ever."

My friend was explaining to me back in 2005 how this whole "Pay-Per-Click" model worked, and I thought it was the greatest thing ever. "You pay just for results. How cool is that," I thought. Back in the early days of Adwords (and Overture for the old school folks), things were quite different...

Cheap clicks were abundant... and wonderful!

At that time, if we were running a campaign for a somewhat competitive term, we would complain about how ridiculous a .50 CPC was. And a $1 a click?

Pure insanity... at least that's what we thought at the time.

Now those same terms are running around $8 - $10 a click. So, what happened? In the wonderful world of ad auction bidding, the more people that bid, the higher the cost-per-click will be.


The World of Ad Auctions


Since Adwords uses an auction system, the more people that want those revenue generating keywords, the higher your cost will be. And just as competition raised click costs at Adwords, it does the same thing everywhere else, including Facebook.

But instead of bidding on keywords, with Facebook, you're bidding on space in someone's News Feed.

Facebook advertising has exploded in popularity because of its "simplicity" to use and its ability to target almost anyone. You want to go after men, age 30 - 50, that make between $75k - $250k a year, who enjoy Kanye West and purchase healthy organic products...

...they've got you covered.

Many companies are making a fortune running their ads on Facebook, and that'll continue for a long time.

And, best of all, they forced the mighty Google to step up its game, which has benefited all advertisers.

Today, Facebook still stands as one of the best advertising platforms on the web.


Not All Is Lovely In The Land Of Facebook...


The Facebook News Feed is beginning to age... it launched nearly 11 years ago, and ads have been part of it for 5 years.

Now, I'm not saying age is a bad thing (I just turned 40, so I hope not). What I am saying is that age can be one of many indicators on how competitive a market has become. Let's look at a few facts about Facebook ads.

  • Advertisements are shown to a fixed number of people (Facebook members) that match the demographics/interests

  • The News Feed has become (let's face it) a hot, cluttered mess with ads, making it more and more difficult to stand out (even with Facebooks targeting methods)

  • Because Facebook has to continue to try and limit ads in the News Feed (or risk annoying the hell out of their users), it forces them to restrict the ad inventory

  • Facebook uses an auction type of system for ad placement

  • Limited space + Increase in advertisers = Higher CPC's (which can lead to higher customer Cost-Per-Acquisition (CPA) costs).


According to Steve Carbone, managing director and chief digital and analytics officer at MediaCom, Facebook...

"...has driven revenues based on three factors—growing the user base, increasing time spent and adding more ads to each page—but its ability to add more and more advertisements to each page is beginning to slow. If this source of revenue declines, Facebook will have to ramp up the other two and reassess pricing."

Facebook is attempting to mitigate these concerns by testing different ad formats, such as expanding ad formats in the audience network, Messenger ads, Instagram stories, etc.

But, advertisers need to begin diversifying their ad spend, and stepping up their game on Facebook if they plan to stay profitable with paid media. Here are three things that can help.


3 Strategies To Increase Profitability With Paid Advertising


Native Advertising Strategy


1. Begin Using Native Advertising.

Yes, I know. Native advertising is not a "secret." But, for many people, using it successfully is.

If you're curious about why you should start moving into native ads, allow me to share a few stats:

  • Consumers look at native ads 53% more than banner ads*

  • Native ads have an average conversion rate of 4.5% and CTR of 0.2%*

  • Native ads register an 18% higher lift in purchase intent & a 9% lift for brand affinity response*

  • You can get high-quality clicks for under $0.30

The native advertising concept not new, it's been around since the early 20th century. The reason it's been around so long is it continues to work.

I remember as a kid finding these small "health magazines" around the house. My dad was big into learning about the latest and greatest health info, and these appeared to fit the bill.

However, these "magazines" were merely disguised advertisements... but there was a key difference...

They delivered real information... 

...so my dad and millions of others enjoyed checking out the content. He knew they were selling something, but because they contained helpful ideas, he would read them.

These type of ads are a powerful means of not only getting your message out to the masses, but having them engage with it.


Native Digital Ads Reach Over A Billion Monthly Users Globally.


If you're currently advertising on Facebook, then chances are, you've seen the fruits of native advertising.

Most people define "native advertising" as "content within a publication that resembles the publishers content, but advertisers pay for it."

Again using Facebook as an example, their newsfeed ads are "native ads" because they match the surrounding content, look and feel.

But, there has been some criticism of this type of ad format.

Some have said that native advertising is deceptive because it resembles "real content."

But, I have to say...

...they're wrong (for the most part). Good native advertising is about "content discovery" and adding value to the web.



It should not just resemble "real content," but be real content. Yes, there are native ad networks that allow for "deceitful" ads (pure clickbait)...

...but the quality networks are moving away from that, which is excellent news for most advertisers.

The key to successful native advertising is to contribute positively to the online discussion and provide valuable, informative content to your target audience. This isn't about blasting the web with ads; it's about giving potential customers what they want.

So, how do you give customers what they want from an advertising standpoint?

By providing valuable information, which most of the time comes through education.

The great marketer/sales trainer Chet Holmes once said,

"You will attract way more buyers if you are offering to teach them something of value to them than you will ever attract by simply trying to sell them your product or service."

By driving traffic to an advertorial that delivers value, you not only set yourself far above the competition, but you will generate more sales.

To begin using native advertising, you'll need to take your product and connect it with the right networks.

Not all products or offers work across the board, so make sure to do your homework.

The good news is you've got a lot of options to choose from... but to help you get started, here are 6 good networks (besides Facebook) to take a look at:

Taboola, Outbrain, RevContent, Twitter, Google Display Network (yes, it can be done), and Yahoo Gemini. They cover 99% of the high-quality traffic available on the web.

Native Ads ≠ Banner Ads


One of the challenges some of our clients experienced, before coming to us, was identifying agencies that understood the native ad space. Many generalist-type of digital agencies try to apply the same principles they've used in search and banner ad campaigns to native ads.

And guess what, not surprisingly, their strategy doesn't work...

Those agencies then say "native ads aren't right for your business, let's stick with Adwords search and Facebook ads," which the client then believes and puts native to the side.

But, when done right, native advertising can be a game changer for your business.


Best Practices for Running Native Ads


Simply knowing what to do is a big factor that prevents people from taking a stab at native advertising. To help you get started, here are a few strategies to make your "native ad journey" a profitable one.

  • Images "stop the scroll," headlines get the click.

Let's first talk about the ad image. One important note to remember is each native advertising network has their particular image guidelines so take the time to read them and then, of course, stay compliant.

Images should be clean (not cluttered) and without text. Try to make the images "pop" with high-contrast. Also, photos of people tend to be the most engaging, but I've seen stylized images of objects pull just as well.

Also, make sure the image is relevant to the ad text...

A crazy image may get the click, but your bounce rate will be through the roof. Remember, you not only want a good CTR (shoot for 0.25% and higher) but quality clicks.

Below are two examples of good native ads. Both have relevant images that "stop the scroll."

The Nugenix ad has an image of a man looking off to the side, which, not by coincidence, is where the headline is located. Data has shown we, humans, subconsciously follow where someone is looking... so this was a good choice.

The purple background on the Motley Fool ad works by creating contrast.

When working with ad text, remember the headline is what's going to get the click-through, so it's worth spending the time finding the right angle/hook. (Always keep in mind that the headline should match the landing page or risk high bounce rates.)

On what works for the headline...

Ask questions, be specific, use numbers, give it some urgency and make people feel there is something unique about what you're offering.

To give you a better idea, here are some examples of effective native ad headlines taken from real-world success:

  • Top 8 Credit Cards For Those With Excellent Credit
  • Second Wave of Marijuana Wealth Has Already Begun
  • 1 Worst Carb that Causes Weight Gain
  • GNC's #1 Testosterone Booster Baffles Men Over 50

As you can see, the headline doesn't have to be crazy, it just needs to appeal to your target market.

When it comes time for creating your landing page, certain networks (such as Outbrain) will require an advertorial type of page.

However, many don't and will allow you to send traffic directly to an offer.

But, if you can, I would recommend using an advertorial format for your pages whenever possible. Remember, it's about providing real value to the market.

Also, by educating your audience, you're eliminating sales resistance while providing a benefit at the same time.

If you're having any trouble getting your native ad campaigns going and have questions, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @ReachFire or visit our "contact us" page.


2. Get Your Retargeting Pixels In Place From Multiple Networks Before Running Traffic.

Would you send people to an opt-in form that can't capture the opt-in?

Of course not, that'd be ridiculous right? Well, when you're sending traffic to a site without having a plethora of retargeting pixels in place, you're doing the same type of thing.

A small part of our marketing methodology (Panoptic Stacking™) is to setup retargeting pixels across all the major advertising channels before we ever launch a campaign.

Most people will setup their retargeting pixel on the network in which they are currently advertising. But, they won't setup their pixels from networks they are currently NOT advertising on.

It doesn't matter if you are using a particular network right now or not, by following this strategy you're creating a highly valuable audience for future targeting.

Retargeting is one of the most valuable things you can do online...

It allows you to create "personalized" advertising.

Once you begin building that audience, you can further segment it by creating sub-targets, such as showing ads to people who have or have not performed certain actions on your site within a specific timeframe. This is extremely powerful stuff not to be taken lightly.

You spend thousands of dollars on getting eyeballs on your page, so how about you multiply your efforts by placing pixels from channels like Facebook, Twitter, Google, Taboola, Yahoo, Outbrain, etc. on your site. Once you do that, you can begin rolling out retargeting campaigns to build "omnipresence" and generate more conversions.

By building audiences across the networks, you can then leverage something powerful called "lookalike or similar audiences."


3. Use Lookalike Audiences With Layering.

The amount of data ad networks have on us is pretty incredible.

The tinfoil hat people are right... "they are watching us!" But the good news is it makes marketing to the right people so much easier.

Ad networks create what are called "lookalike" or "similar" audiences by evaluating who is coming to your site (all their characteristics, buying and clicking habits, purchase behavior, etc.) and compare that data to everyone else on the web.

When they see a match, ta-da! Your ad will then be shown.

This way of advertising can dramatically reduce costs and improve your overall CPA.

One common mistake people make is by not creating any filtering layers on top of the lookalike audience.

Keep in mind these audiences are not perfect, and because of that, you should place a filtering layer on that audience to "help" the networks find the right people. The filtering layer should match your ideal customer profile such as gender, demographic, income range, location, etc.

By building and layering a lookalike audience, you can generate some massive success online.


Concluding Thoughts


There are now quite a few options available to get eyeballs on your product/offer. Facebook advertising is still a great network to use (heck, we used it in this case study); however, it's important to begin diversifying your ad spend and maximizing what you currently have while it's still available.

Unfortunately, amateur hour is over. Too many large players with massive budgets are jumping in, and if you're not careful and know what you're doing, you could end up losing significantly.

However, the three strategies I shared can help lower your CPC and CPA, making your campaigns (or keeping them) lucrative.

If you are in the health or finance industry and have a proven funnel that converts, ReachFire will bring you thousands of leads and sales at a lower CPA using native advertising.  ReachFire offers a unique guarantee for the advertising industry: if they don't beat your current customer/lead acquisition cost, you won't owe them a dime. Schedule a consultation to see if they can help.


Jordan has been driving traffic online since 2005, and is the founder and president of ReachFire LLC, a native advertising agency. He's also happily married with 3 children and currently resides in Boston, MA.


ReachFire LLC is a native advertising digital agency that focuses on driving traffic for clients in the health and financial space.

ReachFire uses a unique 3-step methodology called "Panoptic Stacking" to help maximize ROI for their clients.

ReachFire LLC © 2017, All Rights Reserved.

Quora’s Native Advertising Solution is Out of Beta and Available to Everyone | Social Media Today


If you’re a social media marketer and you’re not familiar with Quora, it’s time to get up to speed.

Quora a highly addictive Q&A site that boasts a global audience of close to 200 million monthly users, and was featured previously as one of 56 vendors in The 2017 Social Media Native Advertising Landscape. It’s userbase is highly educated, too.

It’s known for the quality of its content and the insightfulness of its users. The community is relatively troll-free and is actively policed by its users. Users come to the site to ask questions and read reliable answers, which includes information about products, services, brands, competitors and industries.

Many of these queries and answers influence users during the consideration stage of their buyer’s journey.

Quora’s Native Advertising Solution is Out of Beta and Available to Everyone | Social Media Today

And now, Quora has launched it's own self-serve ad platform, which is available to all users. Quora first started testing ads last year, but only made the option available to select partners in beta. Now, anyone can give them a try - and they may well be worth consideration.

Reasons to Advertise Using Quora

Quora gives four main reasons (see below) brands should consider it for advertising. It should also be added that the variety of topics is immense, so targeting to the right audience at the right time should be easy for marketers.

  1. A large, engaged audience
  2. Only quality content
  3. High user intent
  4. Measurable results

How it Works According to Quora

  1. Create your account – You need a Quora profile account to get access to the Quora Ads Manager and start running ads. If you don't have an account, create one here.
  2. Create your ad copy and choose your audience – Choose a headline, description text, landing page URL and a call to action for your text ad. Target your ad by topic, platform or location.
  3. Set your budget and launch your campaign – Quora Ads runs off a CPC-based model that is powered by a real-time auction. Set your desired CPC bid and adjust the bid and budget at any time. Measure performance using our reporting.
  4. Only pay for results – Signing up for Quora ads is free. You only pay when someone clicks on your ad. You control how much you spend and you can adjust spend based on your needs.

Quora’s Native Advertising Solution is Out of Beta and Available to Everyone | Social Media Today

The companies that used Quora’s native advertising during beta range in industries from ecommerce, law, HR, SaaS and parenting.

Anne Halsall,  the co-founder of Winnie, says that “the conversion rate was 4-5 times higher than what we saw on other platforms.”

Quora’s native advertising solution represents another arrow in the quiver for brands to reach their target audience where they’re at, and on their terms. Initial results look impressive. As a Quora user myself, I plan on using this new offering as soon as possible and you can bet I’ll be sharing the results here – stay tuned.


On - 28 May, 2017 By Chadpollitt


Jordan has been driving traffic online since 2005, and is the founder and president of ReachFire LLC, a native advertising agency. He's also happily married with 3 children and currently resides in Boston, MA.

Here is some great info from SEMPO regarding social paid ads. We’ve been using paid advertising on social platforms for quite some time and have seen great results. The “native” component of social ads allows them to more easily blend in vs. typical display (banner) ads.

Don’t get me wrong, banners are great… when done correctly. Anyways, here is the article:

According to the latest State of Search report from SEMPO (Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization), search ads dominate when it comes to digital marketing efforts performed by both agency and client-side marketers, but social advertising is the fastest-growing segment.

Released on Tuesday, SEMPO’s survey includes responses from nearly 500 search marketing professionals, including agency professionals, consultants, and client-side marketers. The survey includes a broad range of questions around the types of digital marketing efforts being formed, industry challenges and metrics.

When asked about the type of digital marketing activities carried out, 95 percent of agency professionals and consultants listed search ads, as did 92 percent of client-side marketers. For agencies, this was a slight increase from last year, while marketers saw a 2 percent decrease.

Seventy-six percent of agencies and consultants and 69 percent of client-side marketers listed social ads  — both sides doing more social advertising activities in 2016 compared to 2015. Social ads were the fastest-growing segment for digital marketing activities carried out by agencies and client-side marketers.

Search ad spending

When asked if they were investing more ad dollars on Google, Bing and Yahoo in 2016 compared to 2015, the number of agencies and consultants investing on Google was up in 2016.

Agencies and consultants and client-side marketers alike reported investing more on Bing in 2016 over 2015, but it was still far fewer than those who gave additional ad dollars to Google.

Paid social spending

Among its other findings, SEMPO’s report reveals that B2B marketers prefer LinkedIn and Twitter for paid social, while B2C marketers are more likely to turn to Instagram — with 53 percent of B2B marketers investing in LinkedIn ads compared to 13 percent of B2C marketers, and 54 percent of B2B marketers purchasing Promoted Tweets versus of 23 percent of B2C marketers.

Fifty-three percent of B2C marketers are buying ads on Instagram, compared to of 25 percent of B2B marketers.

The findings show agencies and consultants said “getting a budget” was their biggest social challenge, while client-side marketers said measuring their ROI was their biggest social challenge.

SEMPO says it will be presenting the full report at its 2017 Search Industry Forum May 4–5 at the Hyatt Regency in Miami and that SEMPO members will have free access to the full report. More information about the report can be found at 2016 State of Search.



In the previous post, I discussed creating an avatar of your “ideal” customer, as well as how to spy on your competitors to find out what is and isn’t working in the marketplace.

Now it’s time to create a custom ad campaign to target this customer persona. As logical as this may sound, I can’t tell you how many companies mess this up. For this reason, you need to know who your ideal customer is before you do any advertising. Once you know this, you can then create the right type of ad for him/her.

The mistake so many companies make is they create one generic ad. They do this because they want to bring in many different types of customers from it. 

But, this doesn’t work.

Successful ads never resonate with everyone. You should create ads that will grab that ideal customer by the shirt, and not let go until they take the action you want them to. Think of your ad as bait. If you want to catch a particular type of fish, you need to use the right type of lure. If you want your ideal customer, you need the right ad… but that’s not all.

The Ubiquitous Fishing Analogy

Let’s say you’re on a fishing trip, and you’re out to catch some bass. (Full disclosure – I’m not a fisherman… at all. So please excuse any fishing mistakes I may make from this analogy.)

The bait you’ve decided to use is known to have brought in a lot of fish… so you’re feeling confident and excited to use it.

But, unbeknownst to you, that river you decided to cast your line into… isn’t known for excellent bass. It’s known for fantastic trout.

The point is, even if you have the right bait but the wrong pond, you’re not going to have success.

This is why we emphasize the importance of going through the ideal customer exercise. If you don’t do it, you’re going to struggle because you’ll be missing key data points: where he or she is online and what they’ll be searching for.

With all the online audience information out there among the different ad platforms, it’s easier than ever before to narrow in on the right audience and placements for targeting.

There are quite a few powerful things you can now do to find the exact audience you should be going after. For example, on Google, a lot of people are not familiar with all the changes that have occurred in audience targeting and the display network. 

You can advertise directly to your audience through

All of this is incredibly powerful information available to you within seconds of typing it into the Google display planner tool.

Another useful platform that everyone is talking about it Facebook. We’ve generated quite a few leads on that platform, demonstrating the fact that EVERYONE is on there right now.

Facebook allows you to target very specific demographics and interests, which enable you to create relevant ads for branding and lead generation.

One great thing about Facebook is the ability to create “custom audiences.” One way you can do this is by uploading an existing customer list with emails and Facebook will not only target this list with ads, but it will build a list of people who are similar to those customers!

The algorithm they’ve developed is very smart and makes our lives as advertisers, much easier.

So, bottom line, make sure you’re creating ads that are specific for your ideal customer… not for all your potential customers. And use your competition to learn more about what is and isn’t working in your market. Your results will far exceed any type of generic advertising.

You may think you already know your audience, which, you very well may. But, I’ve found that most businesses haven’t identified their ideal customer. Let’s use the example of a plastic surgeon. He or she may think, “my customer is anyone who is looking to improve their appearance.” In the grand scheme of things, you’re right. In most cases, your customers would be people looking for self-improvement.

Even so, when you dive deeper, there is a lot more to that customer. Consider these three things:

Now you can see you have to spend time identifying your ideal customer. Otherwise, you won’t be able to have the kind of success that’s possible.

Your “Ideal” Customer

So, imagine your best customer, the one you enjoyed working with the most and brought in a solid ROI. As you’re thinking about him/her, here are some questions to answer. Remember, this is your ideal customer:

  1. What do they do for a career?
  2. How much do they make?
  3. What is their family and relationship status?
  4. What do they enjoy doing in their spare time?
  5. Where do they like to go online?
  6. What keeps them awake at night, eyes open, staring at the ceiling?
  7. What are they afraid of?
  8. What are they angry about? Who are they angry at?
  9. What are their top 3 daily frustrations?
  10. What do they secretly desire the most in relation to your business?

These 10 questions will help you identify that ideal customer, and where you should be “fishing.” By fishing, I mean, which online advertising platforms will make the most sense for this audience.

The last essential part of this strategy is to identify who your strongest competitors are and what are they doing online.

Watching Your Competition

The nice and convenient thing about digital marketing is it’s much easier to find out what the competition is doing and saying since it’s all online. But, you need to know where to look.

One thing that’s resonated with me for a while is the phrase “don’t re-invent the wheel.” Someone once told me, “You can always tell who the pioneers are because they have arrows in their back and are lying face down in the dirt.”

Your competition is out there spending and losing money, testing ad copy, landing pages, etc. to figure out how to generate an ROI from ad spend. They are the “pioneers.” You, on the other hand, can become a fast follower and utilize their data to help minimize ad spend risk and avoid the arrows.

From working with clients, I’ve found most of them have never spent the time evaluating their competitor’s online marketing strategies. Usually, it’s because they don’t know where to look or didn’t even know there were tools available to give them this type of data. So, let me ask you this, wouldn’t it be nice to know what your competition is doing online… like what kinds of ads they are running… and how much money they’re actually spending?

Well, let me show you a free tool few people, outside of digital agencies, know about. This tool gives you incredible data and the best part about it; it won’t cost you anything.

It’s called SEMRush.com.

This tool gives you incredible competitive insight and ways to model your campaigns after what is and isn’t working to avoid wasting money. You can see what your competition is spending on paid advertising, what keywords are bringing in the most customers, how much traffic their website is getting, where they’re ranking in the search engines… it’s fantastic info.

It’s as Sun Tzu said in the Art Of War:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

Back in 2005, the “online marketing” thing was still relatively new to me and businesses in general. Google had taken over the advertising landscape with Adwords, firmly supplanting Yahoo and it’s Overture acquisition as the place to go run your ads online with “results-based marketing.”

At that time, I started to move away from doing offline direct advertising to Google Adwords. What blew me away was I could set up an ad and have it running to prospects within minutes… instead of waiting days or weeks to send a mailer out to someone.

But it wasn’t just the speed that impressed me, it was the fact I could also bring in new customers with simple text ads in a search engine, target “buyer” keywords, and split test them… all while paying only when someone clicked on my ad. That concept, Pay-Per-Click, was a game changer… not just for me, but for the whole advertising industry.

Fast forward to today, and while a lot of things have changed, some business strategies remain in the past regarding online marketing.

Most businesses have abjured the past thinking of, “If I set up a website, the customers will come.” However, they still struggle to understand the digital landscape on how to bring prospects to their site and convert them into customers.

What I intend to do with this blog is share all the latest tips and tricks for building a brand online and gaining new and repeat customers using paid media.

I’ll also show you how to get a leg up on your competition and use them to save you significant marketing dollars. These strategies have helped businesses bring in more customers, reduce costs and automate their entire marketing system to generate consistent results.

What’s Your Digital Marketing Strategy?

To succeed now and especially in the future, you must have an across-the-board digital marketing strategy, because chances are your competition will.

And, unfortunately, doing something like SEO is not a comprehensive approach. There are now so many people and agencies selling SEO services and downplaying paid media, that it’s become comical. Now don’t get me wrong, ranking in Google is always good. I used to focus heavily on SEO, always testing and learning new ways to manipulate the search engines so our sites would show up on the first page.

However, over time I’ve learned that SEO is one small piece of the puzzle. Google will continue to tweak and change their ranking algorithms making it harder to manipulate. In fact, Google is developing AI ranking algorithms that will ultimately disrupt the SEO market over the next few years.

So, if you’ve decided to give up on paid media and put all your eggs in the SEO basket, you may be finding yourself facing a rude wake-up call in the near future.

To advertise effectively online, there are 5 simple strategies that will help lead to a successful campaign. Many of these concepts are probably ones you’ve already heard of… but, as they like to say, the devil’s in the details. 

Five Key Online Strategies

  1. Identify the right audience, relevant digital channels, and competition.
  2. Create “personalized” ad campaigns targeting that specific audience. Nothing generic.
  3. Further segment the audience to deliver relevant ads
  4. Design automated online marketing funnels
  5. Test and track everything to generate an ROI

When you install these 5 strategies correctly, amazing things tend to happen. Things like brand awareness and leads increase while at the same time cost per customer decreases.

Stay tuned as I break each of these down in more detail.