20 April 2010

Some advertising and a "Facebook, WTF?" [update]

Many of our players suggested that we create a Facebook page for Eternal Lands. After a lot of reluctance, I finally got to it, and it's been pretty popular so far. The address is here, for those of you who are interested: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Eternal-Lands/102799149763320

At the same time, I wanted to spend some money on online advertising, and was trying to sample a few sites and advertising networks, to see where we can get the best result for the money. The Project Wonderful network is nice, and we got a lot of views and clicks, especially from The Noob comic, which is right on our target.
I tried Google AdWords, where I managed to get a lot of displays and clicks (about 400 clicks for 30 bucks), but they are low quality clicks, most of the people not creating an account with us.

Then I wanted to see if we can get a better result using the Facebook advertising network. So I created a FB advertiser account, carefully read the rules, and started to create an ad. In my humble and uneducated opinion, the ad was pretty tame. I added my CC info, and waited for the ad to be approved. I got no response over the weekend, then on Monday, I see the ad being rejected, for a violation of their guidelines: "Per section 5 of Facebook's Advertising Guidelines, this content is prohibited from being advertised on Facebook."
Their guidelines are here: http://www.facebook.com/ad_guidelines.php
For the life of me, I can't understand how our game violates that section (or any of the subsections). I took a screenshot:


This got to be one of the must puzzling and WTF moments of the year. I wrote them an e-mail, asking for more info about what part of their guidelines we violated, but I doubt they will respond. Meanwhile, we will use our advertising budget on Google and some other sites. I guess our game (and money) is not good enough for FB.

Update:
Got a response from the FB people, just as descriptive and helpful as the original one:

Hi Radu,

Thanks for writing in. Over the past few months, we've received significant user feedback about the quality of ads running on our system. As part of our continued efforts to improve our ads system, we're taking care to ensure that all ads adhere to the high standards that help to uphold the user experience on Facebook. These standards include accurate and truthful representation of the product or service advertised, the disclosure of all relevant consequences of participating in the advertised offer, as well as the protection of all user information received as a result of advertising on Facebook.

As a result, we will not accept ads that we've identified as promoting misleading offers. This includes ads for toolbar and game downloads that may affect the user's computer or browser performance in unexpected or undesirable ways. Please delete any ads that violate this policy within 48 hours in order to bring your account into compliance. We will not allow the creation of any further ads for these types of products or services. We appreciate your cooperation.

Thanks,

Lola
Online Sales Operations
Facebook

18 Comments:

Blogger Daniel said...

You were right to be skeptical about fb.

20/4/10 00:53  
Anonymous -M said...

I've had a look at the ad you put forward to FB. Firstly I think it kinda fell when you advised it to be ages 18 and older. Wouldn't this suggest some sort of selicious going-ons in EL? And I don't think they take too kindly on "test" campaigns.
The bad thing about it is that there are SO many advertising ads that "slip" through the net and end up being advertised.
And now there seems to be a legit ad-campaign which gets rejected.

I'll be interested to hear what FB have to say on the matter, though I won't be holding my breath for a reply.

20/4/10 17:46  
Blogger Radu said...

I am not sure how selecting the age as 18+ would make them think the game has adult content. There are many reasons why some advertisers might want people 18+.

20/4/10 20:06  
Blogger Retro World said...

Well I don't think that advertising on facebook is helpful anyway. not many facebook users are willing to click and if they do they will not download it.

I suggest you try advertising it on blenderartists.org and gamedev.net

this is where I think people will be willing to go on your site and download the game.

anyway hope the project is going on well and hope you update the blog with more information on what is happening with the game.

3/5/10 09:00  
Blogger Retro World said...

I suggest advertising on blenderartists.org and gamedev.net this where alot of indie game developers are willing to try games like this and give it ago as it is insperisional.

hope the project is going well and that you update the blog with more info about the game development.

3/5/10 09:02  
Anonymous Hussam Al-Tayeb said...

That's definitely why I don't like or use social networking websites especially facebook.
The people running it aren't very smart.

I think good advertising would include submitting articles to news websites and reviews when there are new EL releases.

12/5/10 16:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it just me or does the reply look like it was written by a robot. The whole thing looks to me like you've fallen victim to some kind of filter.

Maybe think of ways of wording 'People who are 18+' in some way that has no possible sexual context. (I agree 18+ doesn't neccesarially mean sex, but for most people it'd be the first thing they think of :P) I'm presuming you're targeting that age group based on the ages of the current playerbase. Maybe try wording it along the lines of 'Ages 18-35' or whatever.

17/5/10 23:13  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

facebook do have certain very strict policies but their approval process is kinda random. If you submit the same ad it may get approved. I got ads that were submitted multiple times with very different responses each time... by the way google "Lola Online Sales Operations Facebook"

7/6/10 17:08  
Blogger Er Lern said...

Radu,

Any chances of you writing or updating your previous articles on your experiences in developing MMORPGs? :) Miss those type of articles (which has been quite few recently around blogosphere). Thanks :)

8/6/10 22:13  
Anonymous XavierDon said...

It is probably because the game has to be downloaded as a client. Most games advertised on FB are browser based. Perhaps if you advertised the EL site and community rather than the game itself, you might get your foot in the door. i'd imagine it would be easier once you get your first ad.
can't be any worse than those evony ads that seriously promote the wrong idea.

26/7/10 00:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about:
If something goes bad with this game (ie. it doesn't work on your computer, it crashes your computer, it kills your GF/BF/cat/familly/etc. it is not our fault, and you agree NOT to sue us.)
If you kill someone because you played this game, it is also not our fault, but your parents fault! :D No, really, I am tired of seeing on TV how this or that kid killed someone, and s/he justified it like: "I played this or that game, and I thought it would be k3w1 to do it too, in real life".
Anyway, this software contains no code that is harmful to your computer. That is, it's not like we put some HDD formatting code, or something. Normally, nothing bad should happen by simply running this software.

27/7/10 11:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not allowed:

Ammunition, firearms, paintball guns, bb guns, or weapons of any kind;

4/8/10 00:59  
Anonymous -PYEwacket said...

As a result, we will not accept ads that we've identified as promoting misleading offers. This includes ads for toolbar and game downloads that may affect the user's computer or browser performance in unexpected or undesirable ways.

So does that bit mean they consider EL to be misleading because it's a game that may affect blah blah blah?

It might affect your ability to tear yourself away FROM a computer but to suggest what that comes across as, to me anyway, is ridiculous. Unless they wish to take the stance that ALL downloadable games adversely affect computer performance by taking up valuable HD space, I don't think they've a leg to stand on to back that analysis of EL up.

Sod em. - PYE

6/8/10 21:23  
Blogger Joanne Amos said...

That is why I enjoy reading the blogs more than reading facebook.

14/9/10 13:41  
Blogger James said...

I don't think they even tried the software, and probably assumed a free game online was too good to be true.

EL is just too good for FB and the other con artist sites out there!

4/11/10 12:19  
Blogger Antenore Gatta said...

My two cents...

As the power of Eternal Lands is also its community, why don't you "use" this power?

At the end we play Eternal Lands for free, so what about to give some prizes for any concrete advertisement initiative? It would be a good way to have a kind of paying users (paying in advertisement)

For example I've added your links in my blog, this could give to my user 5000 experience points ;-) ? Or whatever... This is just an example.

Another way could be to offer some special objects, PP or experience points for each new (proven with the IP) users... I mean If I bring my friend in EL, and they will keep playing for at least 3 Months (or let's say till OAL 30) I can get 2 PP.

And so forth... I hope it's clear... Sorry for my English

5/11/10 08:30  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe XavierDon has a good idea about posting the games site then let everyone make up their own minds as to download it or not!
Or another way instead of saying 18+, you might try using something like they use on television for ratings MA=Mature Audiences or something along those lines.
Just my 2 cents!

2/12/10 11:08  
Anonymous ateh said...

they only seem to advertise facebook games on facebook, the browser based ones like farmville and cityville and poker

perhaps they are doing the classic corperate BS email, in which they give a false but perfectly legal response, making themselves out to be saints when in fact they are just monopolising thier income from facebook generated games.

4/2/11 02:43  

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