Facebook Introduces Retargeting Using Custom Audiences

Facebook Introduces Retargeting Using Custom Audiences

October 29, 2013

Facebook announced yet another revamp to its growing suite of retargeting products with website and mobile app Custom Audiences, leveraging online site and app intent data. This comes in addition to Facebook’s real-time marketing bidding platform, Facebook Exchange (FBX).

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Both tools have a similar goal – retargeting interested users based on previous activity. However, website and mobile app Custom Audiences differs from FBX in four essential ways.

  1. Website and mobile app Custom Audiences targeting data can be used for branding and direct response marketing objectives with access to all available Facebook ad units. FBX only has access to Link Offsite Ad Units (for direct response).
  2. Custom Audiences uses Facebook’s pre-existing Conversion Measurement tool (Jan 2013) in Power Editor, Ads manager, and the API – not third-party DSPs. This makes them easier to use for businesses that do not typically work with third parties.
  3. Custom Audiences features more refined targeting based on age, gender, geography, marital status, and offline data like email addresses and phone numbers to find existing Facebook users.
  4. Custom Audiences allows advertisers to display ads on both desktop on mobile, unlike FBX, which is limited to the desktop News Feed and right-hand side.

The ability to apply app intent data and retarget it to an ever-growing network of mobile users (819 million as of June 2013) is a powerful shift in Facebook marketing strategy and shows that Facebook is reacting to its mobile audience.

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Facebook mobile ad revenue grew to 41% of total ad revenue in Q2 and Zuckerberg observed that the site has more daily active users on mobile than on desktop. “Soon we’ll have more revenue on mobile than on desktop as well,” he noted.

How important is developing mobile-compatible ad platforms and retargeting? Facebook posted $1.81 billion in revenue last year and ad revenue comprised 88% – $1.6 billion – of the total. COO Sheryl Sandberg noted that FBX revenue is “a very small part” of the Q2 boom. Companies like AdRoll announced “hitting a run rate of $100 million,” attributing much of their success to FBX.

Is website and mobile app Custom Audiences going to replace FBX? Not likely. Facebook product marketing manager Scott Shapiro “envisions distinct uses for FBX and the new Custom Audiences.” One limiting factor is Custom Audiences’ inability to tweak the ads in real time to deliver customized messages at an individual user level. He stated, “That is the number-one reason to keep using FBX.” FBX provides more individual user level granularity and dynamic creative functionality

He also noted the reallocation of budget and workflow could be a factor for some direct-response marketers.

Custom Audiences brings to Facebook the ability engage its rapidly shifting market of users – through mobile!

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