Facebook offers what is arguably the most targetable advertising platform that has ever existed.  The ability to slice and dice demographics, sociographics, interests, and indicated psychographics is truly impressive.

But a highly targeted ad will never benefit from that targeting unless the message is as targeted as the ad itself.  In other words, the point of targeting is to make your basic offer and your messaging more potently and specifically attractive to the intended prospect.

If your advertising images, language, and offers remain the same for all your highly targeted groups, where’s the benefit to all that targeting?

Here’s an example of a nicely targeted ad:

The ad is for National Public Radio, but it is not a generic ad for NPR.  It’s an ad making a very specific offer to a fairly targeted group: the chance to hear an interview with Jonah Lehrer to people who are either identified fans of his work, or identified fans of neuroscience and psychological research.

That’s pretty specific, when you think about it.

NPR could have chosen to entice me with special broadcasts or downloads of Car Talk or Wait, Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me — both good shows worth plugging —  but they didn’t.

Instead, they voluntarily made life harder on themselves by making the offer most likely to engage the interests of their narrowly targeted group. This is harder because the more groups you have, the more offers and messaging you need to come up with, and unless you have a full-time ad writer sitting around just waiting to tackle this kind of job, creating all this, well, creative is a resource suck.

But then again, writing underperforming ads also kills resources. Things like audience attention and good will, presumption of relevance, advertising budget, and opportunity costs are “sucked up” and wasted by ads that, well, suck.

So what’s the alternative?

Frankly, I think there’s plenty of room in the equation to outsource ad-writing and creative optimization in a way that allows the benefits of that optimization to more than pay for the service.

But I might just be a wee bit biased on that front ; )