Facebook is combining what it knows about its users’ behavior and activities on Facebook and off, with the help of data brokers like Acxiom, Datalogix and Epsilon.
Brands can now target users based on their activity outside of Facebook, across desktop and mobile channels, and offline entirely.
With this latest change to its arsenal of ad products, Facebook is trying to gain more pull with large advertisers in particular, as it pieces together more actionable data such as shopping patterns, email lists and loyalty programs on its users.
Marketers can now go to Facebook to place ads in front of users based on more signals and a deeper compilation of data mined from more sources. Paul Marcum, director of global digital marketing and programming at GE, is already thinking about how he’d like to use the new ad targeting parameters for the benefit of his brands.
"We have a number of different audiences that are relevant for us, of course with GE,” he said. "Certainly we seek to engage business decision makers and have perhaps more commercially oriented conversations, but we also seek to engage people who are enthusiastic about technology like we are. However those connections can be made off of Facebook, on Facebook, we're excited to make those connections. Their ability to surface and find people who share our same interests is a great opportunity for us."
He is confident that Facebook is riding the wave toward more granular ad targeting, taking cues from the industry at large.
“Online marketers of all stripes have embraced programmatic buying in recent years as the technology has increasingly become more sophisticated and obviously the data pulled together has become available,” Marcum said.
“That ability to target is of course something that has been part of the opportunity on Facebook from the earliest days. I think it's natural that they combine what they're able to do within the platform with what marketers are able to do outside of the platform,” he added. “It makes a lot of sense and will be seen as fairly appealing for those who have been doing audience buying so far."
Facebook has created more than 500 unique groups of users based on data from its partners thus far. A consumer-packaged goods marketer can, for example, target heavy buyers of children’s cereal from data provided to Facebook by Datalogix that “includes loyalty card and transaction-level household purchase data with multi-channel coverage across all product categories.”
In clarifying its adherence to privacy standards, Facebook acknowledges that many companies are already using this type of data for targeting off of Facebook.
“No personal information is shared between Facebook, third parties or advertisers. Partner categories work the same way all targeting on Facebook works. The advertiser only knows the size of the audience and can’t access any information about individuals included in a category,” the company noted in a blog post.
"This is completely anonymous. I think privacy has been taken well into account by Facebook,” says Rebecca Lieb, an analyst at Altimeter Group.
“The data is going to be pretty rich and robust, that is the heart of Facebook’s advertising offering. It’s state of the art, precise customer targeting data,” she said. “I don’t think they’ve cracked new codes. They are, however, making a valuable tool more broadly available.”
When asked if Facebook is nearing the deep end in terms of how granular it can get with data for ad targeting purposes, GE’s Marcum responded with optimism and wonder.
“I would never bet against the future of data,” he says. “I think that there’s opportunities out there that I’m sure we haven’t even contemplated yet and ways that we can be more relevant and further the comfort and the conversation, and the ongoing relationship between brands and their audiences.”