There was a time when social ads represented brand new territory for advertisers. The opportunity to target users by interest, by social group or by commonalities promised higher engagement and better conversions. In a new article for “Adotas,” Ted Dhanik of engage:BDR argues that the cost of display advertising versus the cost of Facebook has a prohibitive gap.

Reliance on Traffic

For one, reliance on Facebook traffic has proven problematic. It’s difficult to tell the exact intentions of a user on Facebook. Is he online to check his notifications? Is she messaging a friend to schedule a meet up? These questions are difficult to answer on a case by case basis, so the messaging in your ad must be precisely tailored to fit the kind of user you want to reach. Even with demographic targeting, it can be difficult to compete with the noise of a social network as well. Reliance on this unreliable source of traffic is bad for a campaign that requires high ROI to succeed.

Better Methods

Facebook used to be the best method for advertising in multiple formats. It is conducive to viral video advertising as well as short form ads with or without creative. The rest of the Internet isn’t far behind. You can use on-demand banner advertising platforms to deliver rich-media ad formats that move and play sounds, banners that blink or flash, and text ads that blend seamlessly with content.

Now that ad formats have caught up, it’s hard to argue for more spend in social. Users can be unreliable, and the placements are no longer the premium of the Internet that they once were.