Facebook LogoFacebook is integrating Atlas into it’s paid ad platform. Recode was one of several sites that reported on the new ad service. There’s a lot of hype about this new platform and a lot of people see it as a much better option for paid online ads. There’s one big problem with this. Paid online ads aren’t a good idea for law firms. Let’s dive into what Atlas is, why you should avoid it, and the path you should take with your firm’s marketing.

The gist of Facebook’s Atlas integration is simple – Facebook is going to be indirectly selling ads on third-party (a.k.a. non-Facebook websites). They will be using the information from a person’s Facebook account (likes, interests, etc.) to target a website viewer with ads which that viewer is more likely to click on given their particular interests. In other words, rather than showing a particular ad to everyone that views a participating third-party site, an ad will vary given the interests of the particular individual viewing it. This has quite a few marketers excited for obvious reasons – the more targeted an ad then the more likely that ad is to generate a conversion. This type of targeted ad placement has some web marketers excited about the possibility of improved conversions on web advertising. The problem though is that this “shiny new thing” might cause lawyers to make a mistake – that mistake being spending money on web advertising.

Attorneys should invest in quality web content rather than spending money on advertising through services such as Facebook’s Atlas platform

I wrote a previous article on why attorneys should invest in their firm rather than spending money on it. The idea here is simple. Let’s say you spend money on a paid ad. It doesn’t matter if it’s the phonebook (I’m not sure who still uses the phonebook for any purpose other than holding up the corner of the couch), television, radio, Google Adwords, paid AVVO placement, or placing your firm’s name on the side of the Goodyear blimp, the concept is the same. You pay $1,000 this month for your ad and next month you have to pay another $1,000 to keep it running. As long as the ad is bringing in more revenue than the $1,000 it’s easy to say it’s profitable. The problem though is that you’ve just placed yourself in a trap of having to pay that $1,000 every month and this kills your bottom line. You did this by spending money on advertising each month.

Investing in your own quality content is a way better deal for your business. We have a client who updates the blog on her family law website twice per month. A post she did in February of this year has received 103 organic clicks in the last six or so months. If she were paying for Adwords than 103 clicks would have cost her roughly $2,100 in her market. The investment in a blog post saved this $2,100 and, more importantly, that post will continue to get traffic going forward and will continue to provide a return. This client doesn’t use Google Adwords because to do so is a waste of money. Invest in quality content and the return keeps on ‘a comin’. This is how you will truly get ahead in your practice. The two top areas you should be investing in are useful blog content and video. I’ve written before on how lawyers benefit by making their blog content useful and why video is one of the best marketing investments a lawyer can make.

Facebook’s new ad platform sure is that shiny new thing that some lawyers will flock to over the next few years. All it is, in the end, is another way to spend money and increase your overhead when much better returns can be had by generating your own meaningful content. So when you hear about attorney’s utilizing Mr. Zuckerberg’s new Atlas platform, just laugh and smile as you head to the bank to deposit that extra money you’re making.

Spending money on paid advertising places a lawyer’s future in the hands of someone else

One thing I’ve always found interesting is that, on one hand, many lawyers like to feel “in control” of their situations. At the same time, however, these same attorneys will regularly give away crucial control of their practices without even realizing it. Services such as Adwords and Facebook’s Atlas platform are the ultimate example of this.

When you use a third-party advertising service then you are placing control of your firm in someone else’s hands. Suppose you completely build your practice based on Adwords or other paid advertising and then something new comes along which makes that service “old news.” Because you were relying entirely on a service you don’t control your practice would then go away. Also, you are placing your overhead in the hands of someone else; attorneys in my area were paying around five bucks a click with Google Adwords in ‘06 and those same lawyers are now paying around $20 per click for the same ads. I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t be my usual joyful self if my overhead increased by over three hundred percent. Avoiding third-party marketing resources, and basing your practice on things you own and control, helps to ensure your future.

If you can’t stand prosperity and want to risk the future of your firm on someone else’s platform then utilize services such as Facebook’s new platform. In the end you’ll probably look like this guy:

Crying business person


If you like money then take a strategy of investing in your own content.

Why do you think so many attorneys rush to a third-party advertising solution rather than investing in their own content? Please chime in on the content form below.