How I rented my condo in 5 days with FREE Facebook ads

It’s no secret that I love Facebook advertising. Last spring, I entrusted my dating life to Facebook ads. And, this summer, I used a basic Facebook ad campaign to rent out my condo.

My rental property is walking distance to Arizona State University, so it’s highly attractive to college students. In late June, my tenant informed me he was moving out. I had a small window to move in new tenants between him leaving in late July and school beginning in late August.

Here’s how I found perfect renters in just five days with Facebook ads without spending a dime …

Ad creative. The obvious imagery for housing is a property sign or a swimming pool or, say, the house. I tried that approach. Meh. Facebook ad with smiling face image

Studies have pointed to the effectiveness of smiling faces in ads. So, into my ad creative mix, I threw a face – my face.

I wanted to grab my renters’ eye. And I wanted to differentiate against the corporate apartment complexes that were also targeting my audience. The call-to-action to “Rent my condo!” added an informal tone to the campaign.Facebook ad with rental condo image

The results? Ads featuring my grinning mug drove 55.6% of the campaign’s reach, 74.3% of its impressions, and 77.8% of clicks.

Ad targeting. The best thing about Facebook ads is the granularity of targeting options. Demographics. Interests. Geography. It’s all there.

For this campaign, one ad group targeted those who lived within 10 miles of ASU. The other targeted all ASU students nationwide.

Why nationwide? I figured my targets might still identify as residents of their hometowns (for the same reason that college students don’t get local driver’s licenses and remain registered to vote back home). Plus, if they were home for summer break, they may need a rental when they returned.

The results? The nationwide ads drove 54.2% of reach, 73.5% of impressions, and 80.0% of clicks. And, most importantly, the combination of national targeting and my smiling face landed my renters.

Wait, didn’t you say something about free? Yup!

The landing experience was free enough. I started a Facebook page for the condo and used basic features for customization. An album housed shots of the property. The cover photo was a Google map screenshot highlighting the short walk to ASU. (Check out the screenshot below.)

And the ads? Well, the ads were free too. Facebook wants you to take its platform for a test drive. It knows that its granular targeting and cheap clicks are addictive. And it wants to get you hooked so bad that it regularly offers up $50 and $100 ad credits.

Right now, you can get a $50 credit for Facebook ads by filling out a form and chatting with a Facebook rep. It’s the perfect opportunity to play with Facebook ads for free. Have fun!

Facebook fan page for renting my condo

Video: Looking for love – or leads – with Facebook ads

It’s been almost a year since I used Facebook pay-per-click ads to meet women … and received some fun media attention in the process.

As you may recall, I used Facebook’s demographic- and interest-based targeting to drive eligible bachelorettes to my Facebook page. Clicks cost about $.75. That’s 10 clicks for the price of a cocktail!

Creepy? Yes. Effective? Yes!

The project made a fun case study for DIY marketers seeking to stretch limited Facebook budgets. Here’s a presentation I gave on the topic last summer:

Facebook Campaign Overview

Facebook Ad Targeting and Bidding

Facebook Pages and Free Apps

Facebook Campaign Results

Click the image to watch ’em all on YouTube.
Facebook ads presentation in YouTube player

Facebook advertising gets media attention but no dates

Mashable had some fun with my Facebook advertisement.

Mashable had some fun with my Facebook advertisement.

It’s been a hectic few weeks since I first revealed that I was using Facebook ads to find a date.

So hectic, in fact, that the experiment is currently paused while I field media requests, enjoy my upcoming birthday, and, ya know, do my day job.

Honestly, I’ve been a bit overwhelmed by the interest from friends, industry contacts, and the media.

Media interest rolled in slowly, with Social Times syndicating the article and Valley PR Blog offering its take.

I realized that the campaign was of interest outside the marketing world when Fox 10 asked to interview me in front of the Love sculpture in Old Town Scottsdale. It seemed cheesy, but fun. The video of my interview with Kristin Anderson is below.

Media interest exploded after the lovely Jolie O’Dell covered the story for Mashable. That article led to over 2,000 tweets and over a dozen more blog posts. Some have called me brilliant. Some have called me desperate and sad. Maybe I’m somewhere in between?

Since the Mashable article, I’ve had interview requests from all over the world. Portugal’s top newspaper sent 360 visits to this website in two days. Crazy! Still no dates. But, as I like to say, with this product it’s going to be a long, complex sales cycle.

So, thank you to everyone who’s expressed interest in my story. I apologize to the many to whom I didn’t reply. And thank you to my Bulbstorm teammates who’ve been very supportive through the craziness.

Facebook advertising for the single-and-looking

Facebook interest-based PPC advertising campaign for a bachelor with flair.

This ad image is performing best, perhaps because my face is partially-hidden.

I’m a single guy with specific taste. I’m only interested in women with the potential to become my intellectual and spiritual partner over the long term.

On any given night, these women may be in bars. Or coffee shops. Or yoga classes. Or laundromats. In the unlikely case that I’m in the same place at the same time, the only filter I’d manage to apply is physical. At first meeting, a woman is like a Facebook profile with her privacy settings too high.

But, interest-based pay-per-click ads remove the privacy shroud and deliver insight into her intellectual and spiritual nature at 75 cents per click. That’s about 10 clicks for the price of a cocktail that may or may not end up splashed in my face!

Facebook marketing for the eligible single

On April 2, I launched a Facebook ad campaign designed to find me a date. As a true marketing dork, I built 9 distinct ad versions for testing purposes – 3 creative variants and 3 interest-based targeting variants.

Demographically, ads targeted single women ages 28 to 34 within 25 miles of Tempe. Interest groupings were:

  • Yoga, Bikram Yoga, etc. (max reach: 940 users)
  • Buddhism, meditation, metaphysic, etc. (max reach: 580)
  • Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, etc. (max reach: 420)

For a landing experience, I created a Facebook fan page with free contact form and welcome tab apps. (Thanks to Mari Smith’s Big List of Apps!) Yes, it’s ghetto. My html skills are weak and Facebook’s iFrame bug is weaker.

Why not drive to a WordPress page or dating site profile? Well, Facebook grants a lower cost-per-click to advertisers keeping traffic on site.

Plus, users maintain grip on their Facebook security blanket when: A) an ad doesn’t include a fishy third-party URL, and B) the landing page keeps the Facebook URL and header.

Why Facebook instead of Match?

I know what you’re thinking. Why not just use Match, eHarmony, or some other dating site? Three reasons:

    • Match is too competitive. The economy of Match favors women. As a man on Match, I’m a buyer in a seller’s market. One female friend received 86 messages in 3 weeks on the site! Personally, I’d rather attract a woman before she hits Match’s meet market.


    • Match’s interest-based targeting sucks. On Match, I can filter by any number of physical fetishes from hair color to ethnicity. But filtering by spirituality or intellectualism is relegated to clunky keyword searches. (Sorry, but spiritual not religious is too vague to be meaningful.)


  • Match is too labor-intensive. To be effective, Match simply requires too much active attention. Facebook ads are set-and-forget. At this point, I have more money than time … especially at 75 cents per click.

OK, let’s see some ad data

Facebook interest-based PPC advertising campaign for a bachelor in a hat.

My Twitter avatar is performing worst of the bunch. Time for a change?

Let’s cut to the chase. In five days, my campaign drove 30 clicks and 5 leads via contact form for $19.39. By comparison, a Match membership costs $34.99 per month (with no guarantee of traffic or leads). The upfront labor costs are roughly the same.

Here’s a breakdown of my Facebook ads by interest:


Interest Imps Clicks Leads Spent
Yoga 8,592 5 ? $3.75
Buddhism 10,630 15 ? $9.43
New Age 8,523 10 ? $6.21
TOTAL 27,745 30 5 $19.39
Yoga 0.06% $0.44 $0.75 ?
Buddhism 0.14% $0.89 $0.63 ?
New Age 0.12% $0.73 $0.62 ?
TOTAL 0.11% $0.70 $0.65 $3.88

Yes, I’m a tad disappointed that I cannot track leads by interest group. If only Salesforce had a free contact form plug-in …

But Facebook ads are just creepy …

What are the ethical ramifications of the campaign? Is it creepy to target women with PPC ads? Are there privacy implications of interest-based targeting? What about eyes romantically locking from across a crowded room?

I don’t know. Thanks to Match, eHarmony, and others, America has come to accept attraction-based singles marketing. It’s modern day serendipity when your match stumbles across your dating profile.

Facebook interest-based PPC advertising campaign for a bachelor on a hike.

Women who dig yoga also seem to dig this picture of my on a hike.

Promotion-based singles marketing is a whole new ballgame. On Match, there’s no amount of money one can invest in order to boost profile traffic.

(For about $10, you can add a “guarantee” to a six-month commitment that adds a green highlight to your profile in search results.)

The times may be a-changing. Chas McFeely is offering a $10,000 bounty to whoever introduces him to his future wife. My cost structure is more modest, but I’m essentially paying Facebook to set me up.

So, is this campaign weird? Maybe. As one respondent to my ad said, “My opinion: creepy, invasive AND cool!”

What do you think? Let me know in the comments!

Interview with Social Times Pro, II: Facebook ads cost less, perform better than display ads

Why Facebook's Self-Serve Ad Platform Works

Social Targeting: Why Facebook's Self-Serve Ad Platform Works

I was recently interviewed for the report “Social Targeting: Why Facebook’s Self-Serve Ad Platform Works” from SocialTimes Pro lead analyst Tameka Kee (@geekychic). The full report is available for download to subscribers. Here’s an excerpt:

Case study: Facebook ads cost less, but perform better than display

As with search, it is important for a Facebook campaign to focus on user interests if it’s going to outperform display. But what if a brand isn’t exactly sure what its target audience is interested in?

Research shows that even minimal interest-based targeting can create effective campaigns, and because Facebook ads cost so much less than display, marketers can afford to experiment and optimize.

  • Target audience: Facebook users who saw the brand’s commercial spot
  • Flight time: Eight weeks; Sept/Oct 2010
  • Brands involved: CPG brand
  • Agency/Developer: Bulbstorm
  • Cost: Undisclosed

The CPG brand wanted to support its existing TV campaign with online ads and test the efficacy of Facebook’s targeting platform in the process. The campaign included display ads on Yahoo and other content networks, as well as Facebook ads; all creative drove traffic back to special landing pages.

The TV spots only ran in 12 markets, so that helped to narrow the Facebook target. But according to Matt Simpson, Bulbstorm’s marketing director, the brand only broadly targeted based on “general” interests. “We wanted to get a clean read on the performance vs. display overall,” Simpson said. The results were stellar:


  • Facebook ads generated 12X the impressions
  • Facebook ads generated 4X the CTR
  • Facebook campaign came in at one-fifth the price of display

Why it worked: Simpson attributes some of the Facebook campaign’s over-performance to “banner blindness,” or the idea that most Web users are so accustomed to ordinary display ads that they don’t even acknowledge them on a page.

The other factor was the Facebook ad’s pithy copy, as well as the socially-targeted environment. “Even without intense targeting, the ads only showed up to users that the brand thought had relevant social context.”

Copyright 2011 WebMediaBrands Inc. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission from SocialTimes Pro.