Organizers of last month's Campus Rail Jam on University Hill used Facebook ads to help draw a crowd.
Marty Caivano
Organizers of last month’s Campus Rail Jam on University Hill used Facebook ads to help draw a crowd.

BOULDER, Colo. –

Advertising for as little as $1 seems too good to be true in this tight economy — but even the smallest budgets can find a place on Facebook.

Small businesses, University of Colorado student groups and even larger-budget companies are increasing their advertising online through the wildly popular social-networking site.

“If I sell two shirts it’s worth it,” said Alex Luttrell, owner of College Corner, a University Hill clothing store. “But you have to make it worth the customer’s while … (and) offer like a 20 percent discount.”

Luttrell said he spends about $5 a day advertising on Facebook, and while he hasn’t received a huge response, he said still believes it’s worth the money.

On Facebook, advertisers can choose different ways to pay for ads, and they also can select specific target audiences based on specifications of other users’ profiles.

For example, an ad could be targeted at only the people in CU’s network.

Facebook offers the option to pay per click on an ad or per impression, meaning how many times the ad is displayed on users’ pages. In addition to selecting a pricing option, advertisers can set Facebook a budget cap so that if a surge of people click on an ad that was set up as pay-per-click spot, the ad will stop displaying when it reaches the price cap.

Boulder Freeride and the Cricket Campus Rail Jam Tour used Facebook ads a few weeks ago to draw a crowd for their snowboarding event on the Hill.

“I’ve found that it’s very successful for a small company to do advertisements on Facebook. We can afford it while newspaper ads are out of our budget,” said Campus Rail Jam’s Dan Genco.

Genco said he just wishes he could have made the ads bigger, rather than relying on the thumbnail size images on Facebook.

Students seem to have varied reactions to online advertising.

“I look at them, but no more than a glance. They never really appeal to me,” said Ariel Mata, a senior broadcast journalism major at CU.

Senior Lauren Barocas said also just gives Facebook advertisements a quick glance — although occasionally an ad will catch her eye.

“Basically if it has humor it attracts my attention,” Barocas said.

Reactions are mixed across the board. Since Facebook ads typically are only given a fleeting glance, some business owners don’t think they’re worth even a few dollars.

“It depends on the service you’re trying to promote. For shipping it’s worthless,” said Mike Clear, owner of Shipping on the Hill.

Mike Shellhammer, of Boulder’s College Student Storage, said that sometimes it’s worth spending a little more for the extras — like images — for an ad. His simple Facebook ad last year was “useless,” he said, but this year he’s tried to be more creative.

“I did it because it will reach people,” he said. “I can pick schools I do business at, and it’s a one-click ad.”

The College Student Storage advertisement will only be displayed until 25 users click because it is a one-click advertisement with a $25 limit; each click costs $1.

“Does it work? I don’t know,” Shellhammer said. “But why not try and get the word out.”