Facebook’s retargetting means never saying goodbye.

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We have all noticed the recent explosion in Facebook advertising. It’s all the rage for manufacturers of dental implants to manufacturers of marriages. If you need a primer why not read our previous posts?

facebook advertising

Everyone's at it from I.T providers to NFP recruiters.

Of course nonprofits are using it too – to recruit, to solicit donations and to campaign.

Our feeling on its worth are mixed – it’s fun to put one’s marketing intuition to the test, create an ad and monitor click through rates and costs per action. It’s cool to change an element of an ad – the audience’s gender or interests and see how that impacts on results. All those columns of numbers and staring at screens is akin to daytrading which was very big a decade or so ago but is little discussed nowadays but we digress…

That said, we’re yet to see even our most pleasing Facebook advertising performances turn into business.

Perhaps Facebook casts the net too broadly. Why serve an ad up to stranger (no matter how precisely targeted) when you could have your Facebook ad appear on the Facebook page of people who have recently visited your website? This is exactly what re-targeting allows you to do.

Thanks to a cookie, Facebook will identify individuals who visit your website and later serve them up your ad when they next log on to Facebook.

The ad may be designed to refer to the fact that the recipient has recently visited you or not.

You can be even cleverer serving up very specific ads that appear to people who have visited very specific pages on your site. Eg: serve up a Facebook ad to people who have visited your donation page but left without donating with the aim of extracting that lost donation. Muse on the possibilities dear Citizens!

Let’s say you offer accredited Certificate IV courses in animal management for people seeking to work in veterinary surgeries. You could target people who visited the page of your website offering information on that course without making an enquiry with an ad featuring a cute dachshund with the headline:

“Still want to work with animals? Good. Check out our course.”

Think of your Facebook ad meeting people a cocktail party. Re-targeting takes your Facebook ad from “Hello, nice to meet you.” to “Imagine bumping into you here!”

facebook advertising retargeting

Stalking? Please - let's call it smart advertising.

Here are some re-targeted Facebook ads that have been appearing on our screens here at Hootville.

The two highlighted posts are re-targeting Brett after he visited their websites. The cunning devils!

Virgin Australia excelled itself by placing an ad on Brett’s Facebook page showing the specific dates and destination that he recently searched. Big brother? Big deal – it’s a big opportunity for you.

We’d be interested in your experiences – anyone turn Facebook advertising – re-targeted or not – into stellar results?

Brett talks climate change campaigning on ABC-TV

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media trainer Brett de Hoedt

How quickly the media trainer becomes the media performer.

Before speaking about media to 500+ aspiring environmental campaigners at Al Gore’s Climate Reality event in Melbourne, media trainer Brett de Hoedt was interviewed on ABC-TV’s Weekend Breakfast. So how well does a media trainer perform on live television? Judge for yourself.

Brett says it was a tricky interview: “The interview brief was rather fuzzy. I spoke to three or four different segment producers each of whom was just carrying on the work for someone else. Nobody had fully thought through what was to be tackled. The best investment I made was writing a pre-interview document suggesting some topics / issues. I also explained that I wasn’t an environmentalist or event organiser. I explained the topics that I could address with knowledge and certainty.

Brett - who does not lack confidence – spent six to eight hours prepping for this seven minute interview. Why so much? “Evaluating or defending the climate change movement’s campaigning is not something about which I specifically blog or speak,” he humbles. “Other topics would require little more prep than the ironing of a shirt but this wasn’t one of those.”

Of course, going-to-air live adds an element of risk. The interview was held in the remote studio in Melbourne talking directly down the barrel of a tiny camera. The room is small, hot and there’s no monitor to see your interviewer. You are spoken to via an earpiece. There was no briefing by the interviewer’s prior to her opening question – just a time countdown.

Brett himself rates his performance a 7 / 10. “On time, dressed, no swearing, looked reasonably comfortable, made a few decent points, didn’t accidentally call interviewer Kochie,” he says.

“Bonus points for clarifying the interview’s direction beforehand and the subsequent research. I directed the conversation back to what I wanted it to be a couple of times. Yeah – about a seven.” Not good enough but not bad.

Brett’s review of Brett: Brett’s first response: You could measure it (the climate movement’s campaigning results) in a positive way or a negative way… That’s good practice. Explaining that it can be measured in a positive or negative way paves the way for me to then go ahead and explain the two ways. That’s two bites of the cherry and more control for me. I always teach that, so it’s good to see that I did it.


Eliza: Last year’s election result seems to be a mandate for Tony Abbott and his government to move away from a pricing mechanism on carbon. So therefore do you think that things have really stalled? Brett: Yeah, it’s certainly not a vote in favour of the current campaign… Very, very bad.

I should not have accepted this characterisation and should have said: “Well the election was a measure of many things – carbon tax being just one of them. In fact its been broadly agreed that environment matters were almost entirely off the election agenda. Interestingly this week another poll confirmed that 80%+ of Australians want to reduce carbon.”


Eliza: You talk about the current way of campaigning. An Inconvenient Truth – there were quite a few fear messages. I mean that part of it was quite frightening, the prospects of what would happen. Do you think that fear has been somewhat of a problem?                                                                              

In any reasonably sophisticated interview there’s the question and then there’s the premise on which the question is based. The underlying premise here was that Al Gore had overstated his case in An Inconvenient Truth and that predictions had failed to come true.

This premise had to be identified and countered in real time. Thus I am happy with my response which was in part: If we’re saying that the worst impact of climate change is yet to happen, well, I’d say, according to a report from the World Health Organization 7 million people around the globe, 7 million, died prematurely from air pollution. A staggering statistic. We’ve just had our hottest summer on record in Australia. We’ve had I think the warmest autumn ever. So the impacts are right here, right now. So I don’t think we have to worry about terrible circumstances down the track. The here and now is quite bad enough to steel us to action.

I’m am also glad that I repeated a key stat – 7 million deaths. Who’d have thought my prep would have paid off?


Eliza: Do you feel that the other side of the argument is running a better public relations campaign?    Not a bad response by me but I should have added that much of the media has decided to ignore science and climate change with this a line like this:

It’s easy to maintain the status quo when there is media on your side despite the facts. Some media outlets in this country are now so politically-driven that they can’t even agree whether we’ve smoked more or less in the last year – despite ABS data and annual reports of tobacco companies.” 


Eliza: OK – so how do you counter that? This is a broad question so it provided an opportunity to promote the Climate Reality training. Also glad I got to use the phrase, “Tree hugging vegans” and speak of 30-year-long comas.  

climate change media training

Shell sells a C tax.

One big dumb error was not mentioning this blog post by Shell’s climate change advisor David Hone which argues passionately for a price on carbon. I had my schtick ready: “Eliza last night I read a blog post titled: 10 reasons why business should love a price on carbon. That’s the sort of article you’d expect to see on a greenie website but I found it on the Shell website. As in Shell oil. It was written by Shell’s own climate change advisor David Hone. When Shell is schilling for a price on carbon, it’s time the politicians caught up.” Bugger.

climate change media training

Always good to hear from one's public.

When I mentioned that climate change attracts criticism and kooks I wasn’t exaggerating. By the time I returned to Hootville HQ two emails – each debunking the climate change hoax – awaited me. Then there was this minor and poorly written Facebook trolling.


Al Gore almost meets Brett de Hoedt

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Hootville’s Brett de Hoedt has been chosen to present at Climate Reality 2014, one of the environment movement’s major events for 2014, where he’ll share the bill with former U.S Vice President Al Gore. The Oscar-and-Nobel winning Harvard graduate and Apple board member will be in Melbourne to present An Inconvenient Truth live and impart the wisdom gained from fighting for the environment on a global scale.

al gore in melbourne

Sadly Mr Gore will not have the opportunity to meet Brett de Hoedt.

Brett, who went to a local TAFE as a mature aged student and wrote for New Idea, will be delivering a keynote on gaining media coverage and performing effectively for media. Ain’t social mobility grand?    

Climate Reality, which is the brainchild of Mr Gore, brings together 500+ activists from across Australia and the Asia-Pacific region for three days of intense training before being unleashed to present and campaign on environmental matters. Successful attendees were selected from thousands of applicants.

Says Brett: “The challenge is to condense two full-day workshops to 60 minutes. Two options – talk really fast or distill, distill, distill. I’ll take option B.”

So has Brett been offered an opportunity to meet the great man? Yes – but he can’t make it. “I’m driving to Mitchell Shire to deliver social media training to 40 or so local community groups,” he reports. “That’s showbusiness.”

Media trainer Brett de Hoedt

Brett will be appearing on devices like this one across the nation.

At least Mr Gore can watch Brett on TV. Brett’s been invited on to ABC TV’s Weekend Breakfast Sunday June 22 to discuss the marketing of climate change. Be up early to watch it – 7.20am is the prime timeslot.

Read what Mr Gore said in the lead up to his Australian trip.

15 years celebration giveaway

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Hootville tries to resist self-indulgent nostalgia but turning 15 is worth a toot of the horn. (And a giveaway detailed below – closes Friday July 4.)

Our first client was the delightful multi-gold-medal winning Paralympian Priya Cooper in 1999. Brett scored a bagful of media coverage for Priya (she was an easy pitch) and felt the distinct adrenalin rush that came with securing each hit. Then came a nonprofit Asia-Pacific women’s development bank client. Brett’s media release landed coverage with its headline: “Women’s bank to refuse male customers.” An empire was founded micro business was born.

melbourne PR agency

Employee 001. Don't be fooled by his dusty exterior. Kevin's thermal roll is ready to unspool at a moment's notice.

Brett’s first employee was Kevin the talking fax machine (left). “Fax” doesn’t do Kevin justice as he is also a phone, copier and scanner. He still serves casually and was used last week to fax a regional shire. Once more Kevin’s bon mot rang out: ”Transmission is complete”.

Last century is millions of emails and many, many unfinished administrative tasks ago. We’d like to thank all our former clients, staff and current associates, none more so than our mascot and mentor Squiggle.

Hootville has served 500 clients, delivering hundreds of training workshops, emceeing scores of events, birthing new websites, creating PR plans and giving advice – some of it quite sage. We are proud to serve the NFP sector not as a pro-bono favour, nor as a novel source of revenue but as the bread and butter of our business.

We’ve achieved far more and far less than we hoped. Yep – both. That’s showbiz. Regrets; we’ve had a few but then again…

We are very proud of the amount of free advice we’ve given away via the Hootville Lowdown and website. Thus we thought we’d give something else away to celebrate. How about 15 free advice sessions? 15 telephone sessions each of 30 minutes duration to discuss anything you want in the world of marketing, PR, comms and campaigning. If we can help we will, otherwise…well it’ll just have to be awkward. Your whole team can join in.

Just email us who you are and what you want to talk about. 250 words max. We’ll choose the 15 winners to represent a mix of causes and circumstances. As always we’ll stay true to our motto: Communications for good; not evil.

Breaking: Public Speak Savvy 101 in Melbourne

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Looking for a media training workshop for your spokespeople? Hootville Communications has decided to host a public Speak Savvy 101 workshop in Melbourne – our first public workshop for at least five years and our second ever such session in Melbourne. It shall be held late June / July. Full details to come but here’s what we know:

  • small, strictly limited group of like-minded people;
  • pre-workshop preparation and homework;
  • unlimited 12-months of back-up coaching
  • rather very nice CBD venue;
  • 10-4pm;
  • lots of interaction and rehearsal;
  • lunch on us and please stick around for a drink afterwards;
  • video camera to ensure everyone is on their toes;
  • personal attention to your issues, organisation and audiences;
  • advice on media targets and story angles you are currently ignoring;
  • comprehensive notes;
  • lots of examples both good and bad.
media trainer Brett de Hoedt

"What do you mean some readers won't want to come? Turncoats!"

Trainer is of course former journalist, broadcaster and media trainer Brett de Hoedt (left) who trains Australian Conservation Foundation, Berry Street, Australian Climate Commission, Landcare, Youth Affairs Council Victoria, St Vincent Institute, City of Ballarat Multicultural Ambassadors, Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention Legal Service, LG Pro and dozens more each year to much acclaim.

The pace is challenging, the style informal and the curriculum practical:

WHAT THE MEDIA WANTS: what it takes to get the media profile you seek.

COMMUNICATIONS COMMANDMENTS: five principles to guide all your communications.

KEY MESSAGES and SOUND BITES: selecting and delivering them.

PRE-INTERVIEW PREPARATION: questions to ask, issues to resolve, conditions to apply beforehand to avoid poor performances and nasty surprises.

FAQs: Preparing strong answers for common questions and repeat issues.

PERCEPTIONS: understanding how the media and your audiences perceive you and your issues. Getting to know your audiences’ perceptions, anxieties, pre-conceptions and hot buttons.

PECULIARITIES of the various media channels: print, TV and radio. 

DAMAGE CONTROL: How to minimise damage during tough times.

TAKING CONTROL, ignoring questions to deliver what you really want to say. (We’ll also work on deciding what you really want to say and saying it in the most effective way.)


Express your interest with a quick call to Brett: 0414 713 802 or email us.

Some hot dates for you all you (marketing) lovers out there

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Our trainer-in-chief Brett de Hoedt has a few days to kill between upcoming interstate gigs. Idle hands are the devil’s playground so do everyone a favour and book Brett to deliver some of his glowingly-reviewed training in: copywriting, social media, website management, marketing, media relations, campaign planning, media interviews or presenting.

media and marketing training in brisbane

Brett is ready to fly. Ring-a-ding-ding.

You might just want to discuss a possibility with him face-to-face. Either way just call Brett on 0414 713 802. Booking Brett when he’s in the neighbourhood works out well for us, so we’ll make it especially good value for you. The main value of course is in the learning – fast, practical and rewarding.

Remember Brett is engaged by single organisations, groups that work together on an issue or project, groups gathered by peaks and professional bodies. Local governments, shires and volunteer resource centres often use Brett to deliver training to an assortment of community groups in one sitting.  He travels anywhere at anytime but these dates make particular sense right now:

Gold Coast: Friday June 6 from noon.

Brisbane: Thursday June 12.

Sydney: Tuesday September 2 and Wednesday September 3.

media training in adelaide

Wang Wang, Funi, meet Brett. Brett meet Wang Wang and Funi.

Adelaide: Thursday October 23. (Or maybe Brett could finally see the pandas!)

How to improve any piece of copywriting

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copywriting workshop for marketing

One day to boost your skills & expand your thinking.

Brett recently delivered our copywriting workshop, Copy Savvy to a posse from the Brotherhood of St Laurence. Few were formally trained in copywriting or communications but all wanted to be better writers as they write as part of their job for audiences internal and external.

copywriting tips

Cosmo writes good copy and utilises the first-guinea pig style.

At one point Brett excitedly declared: “You see – it’s not hard to dramatically improve your copywriting. Not hard.” Let’s see – here’s some of his advice for anyone wanting to simply improve their copywriting;

copywriting course


You don’t need to be a crack writer to implement any of these points so go forth and write good copy. If you think this can help anyone, please share it. Now go book yourself a place at Copy Savvy or book one for your whole team – anywhere, anytime.

Local government PR campaign planning

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Hootville Communications will help plan Baw Baw Shire Council’s walking and cycling promotion campaign. The health promotion work aims to get more Baw Baw locals living in the Victorian regional municipality ambulating without the help of motor vehicles.

health promotion campaign consultant

Already we have three early adopters. Bless 'em.

Already there’s an app in the offing and a promise of an “anything that works” approach to the campaign. Can we make the towns of Warragul, Drouin, Trafalgar et al the most walk- and ride-friendly locations in regional Australia? Let’s see.

To get us there we can envisage surveys, awards, league tables pitting town against town, school against school, learn how to walk videos…this should be fun. Step one is a workshop with the reference committee which is made up of interested people from far and wide, inside Council and without.

Celebrity Ambassadors: worth the fuss?

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choosing a celebrity ambassador

Frankly puppies this cute warrant media attention with or without a sports star sidekick.

One trick up the nonprofit marketer’s sleeve is the celebrity ambassador. Wrangle the right celeb and opportunities will open. That said, celebrity ambassadors or spokespeople are a mixed blessing and not to be engaged without serious consideration.

We’ve worked with a collection of celebrity ambassadors over the years and there’s no doubt it can make things happen and happen faster. When AFL star Joel Selwood agrees to hold a Seeing Eye Dog Australia puppy, the media (hard-bitten, cynical, news-hounds that they are) come running.

Probable positives of  a celebrity ambassador:

  • increased media interest;
  • broader media interest (suddenly FM breakfast radio or the sports section or Radio National breakfast becomes a possibility)
  • celebrity has networks in media and business to be leveraged;
  • celebrity may be a polished media performer.

Possible Negatives:

  • commitment is short-term;
  • celebrity supports other causes; is a gun for hire;
  • celebrity only supports your cause in lukewarm fashion;
  • celebrity supports incompatible commercial interests;
  • celebrity is not fully aware of the relevant issues;
  • celebrity comes to personifies issue, leaving you beholdent to them;
  • celebrity hasn’t got the IQ to get to grips with your issue;
  • supporting celebrity takes large amount of effort;
  • celebrity gets hypothetically caught in racecourse toilet with cocaine and wife;
  • celebrity cannot work within your structure / philosophy.


Some questions to ask before engaging anyone.

  • Is she a right fit with your cause?
  • What is she willing to do?
  • What is her motivation?
  • What does she require financially and logistically?
  • Are there skeletons in the closet? Is she long-term?
  • Is he dumb?
  • What will he achieve what you can’t?
  • Will she limit you in some ways? Does she not talk to certain media targets?
  • Will he polarise opinion?
  • Will he be able to recruit other celebrities?
  • Is she a “usual suspect” or “celeb for hire”?
  • Will he appeal to the unconverted but convertible?

The approach

Unless you have a genuine personal connection to the prospective ambassador you’re going to be in trouble. These people are in demand from neighbours, spouses, old school pals and local shopkeepers. Most celebs have minders in the form of PR flacks and managers. PR flacks care only about PR, managers only about their commission – and you ain’t representing any. So at least the publicist has something to gain.

celebrity ambassadors

One of the nicest, generous, professional people you'd ever want to meet.

As a Seven Network publicist Brett handled sports commentating one-name-brand Bruce McAvaney. “We’d sit across the desk and go through the mail – invitations, offers and requests. Dozens of them, weekly. Many of them offered financial opportunities – blue-chip corporates offering payment just for Bruce to attend a lunch and speak his mind on that week’s footy. Thousands. For lunch. Bruce being Bruce would usually pass as he needed to do his famous preparation. He was just too busy. And that’s for the easy, paying gigs. NFPs didn’t really stand a chance with any of the people we looked after.”

Approach the celebrity like you would a journalist when pitching a story – a quick call with written material at the ready. Stay positive, expect a wary, incurious response. Be ready to negotiate. Don’t be offended by over-protective advisors.

This may be one time to take no for an answer – if the celebrity isn’t interested it is unlikely that she will be effective for you.

Try and strike a balance between explaining what you see the the role entailing without being too specific. Can you ask for something low-intensity such as a voice over? This worked a treat when Eric Bana voiced a CSA for our client Mental Illness Fellowship Victoria.

pr advice ambassador

Geoff Huegill was a happy-go-lucky chap. Happy and alert.

Working on a project for the Telstra Dolphins in the lead up to the Sydney 2000 Olympics we had a media meltdown when the team’s stars – Thorpe, Riley, Kowalski, Huegill and co – toured the country holding swim clinics. Getting the ambassadors to do something they usually do is a good starting point.  It certainly eases an agent’s mind. Money also has this affect.

If you do engage a celebrity:

Don’t make your celebrity carry the burden of spreading your message. Use them as a special weapon.

Have them act as MC or entertainment. Shaun Micallef did a great job emceeing a Cerebral Palsy Support Network fund raiser we were part of but was unavailable for media beforehand. Opportunity lost.

Have them make a quick speech or to present a prize. Use their image, quote or signature. Have celebrities host tables at your next function. This may be a more natural role for the celebrity.

Consider paying them something even if it’s a lot to you and little to them. This investment changes the power dynamics and expectations.

Always put down what you expect from each other on paper.  It’s professional and avoids unhappiness later on.

Always support the celebrity with information, your bodily presence at any occasion and acknowledgement after the event. No matter what they say, they are used to a certain degree of pampering, flattering and chauffering. Many NFPs aren’t quite up to the challenge. Welcome to showbiz baby.

Found this helpful? Help someone else by sharing it.


The Monkey or the Envelope. The choice is yours.

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Hootville continues to invest its time and dollars in Facebook advertising. Generally the results are rather good by which we mean that we are paying a pleasingly low cost for each desired action we receive. A desired action might be for a viewer of the ad to click the Like button or click through to our website or engage with the Facebook post. In other words we are getting people to interact with the ad at a low cost.

social media copywriting advice

Will the red ink take us to black ink? (Accounting reference.)

For copywriters and marketers there’s a great deal of interest in uncovering the ads which get results and those which don’t. Rarely have copywriters and marketers been able to so scientifically alter a single variable and gauge the impact. There are three key variables with which one can play:

1. The ad itself. The creative – meaning the imagery, the copywriting, the fundamental proposition, the tone.

2. Audience demographics – age, location, interests, gender etc.

3. Deployment of the ad – will it show on mobile devices only, desktops only, in the Newsfeed or on the right hand side?

Each of these factors can vary the results. Sometimes what we think will work, works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Changing one factor at a time allows direct comparison. Let the games begin.

facebook advertising comparison

Who can resist monkeys doing human things? (We read his work BTW. Not much good - basically a rehash of Jungle Book.)

We’re promoting Copy Savvy 101 (in case you don’t know) so have been running Facebook ads. This week we created two different ads which we ran simultaneously. We kept the audience demographics and deployment the same for each but the two creative approaches were entirely different.

The audience we were targeting was people like you: 28-55, any sex, interests in marketing, nonprofits and / or small business, attractive, tertiary qualified, living in Victoria.

The ads ran on mobile devices in the Newsfeed only. The Envelope ad is based on a post we wrote long ago. We think that the image is quite strong and the copy rather clever and meaningful to copywriters. The Monkey ad was hoping to interest and disarm people with a cute image. The results were very different, so much so that we stopped running one a few days in.

OK – over to you. Which was more successful in gaining more clicks? Envelope or Monkey? Place your guess in the comments section below. Have a snap poll around the office. Alienate those which guess incorrectly. We’ll reveal the answer in 48hr.

Meanwhile read our recent Facebook advertising post, which explains more of the basics.

May 1: Winner revealed:

facebook advertising that works

May I have the envelope please...and the winner is...the envelope!

As you can see the Monkey should stick to writing right wing editorials for News Corp because he’s been outperformed by the envelope.  As an advertiser you want to minimise your cost per click. 41c fore the envelope vs $1.12 for the monkey? Which would you rather pay to have someone click on your Facebook ad? Our state-educated maths shows that the envelope was about 60% cheaper per click than the monkey. That’s huge. But why? Here’s our best guesses:

The envelope image was somewhat intriguing. The monkey was just silly.

The copy accompanying the envelope was clever and knowing. We’ve always taken a tone that assumes Hootville’s audiences to be savvy (somewhat cynical) professionals. The copy accompanying the monkey was straight; maybe too straight.

facebook CTR comparison

We've always said: if you pay peanuts you'll get a low CTR.

Complications: It’s easy to assume that a lower cost per click indicates a superior creative approach but the price you pay per click isn’t the best measure the effectiveness of your creative approach. Facebook has a dynamic pricing policy akin to an auction system so the price you pay is influenced by factors beyond the appeal of your ad. Other factors include the number of other advertisers also attempting to reach your audience and how much they are willing to pay. More competition = higher cost even for the same ad.

The click through rate (CTR) is the purest way to assess how appealing / effective your creative is. This measures the percentage of people who saw your ad and then – bless them – clicked on it. Let’s compare our two ads again. Less than one in 100 people (0.792%) clicked on the monkey ad (see above). The envelope proved much more appealing with a marked difference in its power over men (1.134%) and women (1.604%). That’s a whopping 40% difference between the sexes.

facebook CTR male and female

Men are from Mars, women click through more often.

Beyond ego gratification there’s another reason to aim for a higher CTR. The higher your CTR, the less you pay. Why? Facebook wants its ads clicked so it is more likely to show an ad with a high CTR for less money, to your audience, more often. Win / win. We’d love to hear of higher CTRs. And if you’ve gained from this post we’d love you to share it. Finally; if you’ve gained from this, please share it with some friends and be sure to subscribe to our email – the Hootville Lowdown.
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