As social media marketers, we’re well aware of the rapid pace at which Facebook enhances its social networking platform and innovates new marketing and advertising products. In fact, it’s sometimes a challenge to keep up with all the changes coming out of the social networking giant, let alone get ahead of the curve.
If you’ve ever felt this way, no need to worry about getting left behind. As part of our new Facebook Marketing Quarterly Roundup series here at “Sociable,” the team at Skai Social will keep you apprised of the most significant recent developments you need to be aware of. So, let’s take a look at some of the major developments Facebook brought to market in the first quarter of 2013.
Enhancing Ad Performance:
Facebook made a number of changes in Q1 2013 to increase the performance of its advertising products, including the addition of new targeting capabilities and look and feel enhancements focused on increasing the size and prominence of photos and other graphical ad elements on desktop and mobile. Facebook also focused on increasing the availability and adoption of newsfeed advertising, especially as a direct response medium, and we expect this trend to continue.
Extending Targeting Capabilities with Lookalikes and Partners:
Facebook Custom Audiences were launched in September 2012 and have proven highly effective for many advertisers. Using Custom Audiences, advertisers can upload a list of email addresses, phone numbers or Facebook user IDs and target the exact people they want to reach with (or exclude from) their marketing messages. Custom Audiences can be used to reach existing customers to drive fan acquisition, or to present special offers to loyalty program members. The possibilities are limited only by the marketer’s imagination.
Facebook greatly extended the value of Custom Audiences with a new feature called “Lookalike Audiences.” With Lookalikes, a marketer can target additional Facebook users who are similar to members of the Custom Audience based on demographics and interests. As an example, you may want to create a Custom Audience of your most profitable customers and then use Lookalike Audiences to find more of them!
Indeed, many Skai Social advertisers are driving significant ROI using Facebook Custom and Lookalike Audiences.
Extending targeting capabilities even further, Facebook has partnered with several leading 3rd party data providers, including Datalogix, Epsilon, Acxiom and Bluekai, to create Partner Categories, which officially rolled out just after Q1. Targeting with Partner Categories enables advertisers to deliver marketing messages to Facebook users based on what those users do off of Facebook. In all, there are over 500 Partner Categories, such as “People who are heavy buyers of children’s cereal,” or “People who are likely to buy a car in the next 6 months.”
FBX Comes Out (of the right rail):
Many had speculated if and when Facebook would expand Facebook Exchange (FBX) advertising beyond the standard ad units on the right hand side. Indeed, Facebook announced a limited test of FBX ads in the newsfeed in late March of this year. Specifically, Facebook is testing retargeting with Page Post Link and Page Post Photo Ads in the desktop newsfeed. Results of the test are still top secret, but you can rest assured Skai Social will keep you up to date as new developments arise.
A New Way to Search:
Facebook announced Graph Search in mid-January. Graph Search is revolutionary in many ways, not the least of which is that ability to search for and discover content on the social graph using natural language queries. Graph Search was announced with no native advertising included and remains in a limited beta. That said, Facebook recently announced a test of advertising integrated into Graph Search results. Currently, the only ads that are being tested appear to be similar to the standard ad units on the right hand side. If and when Facebook will begin testing additional advertising formats remains unknown, but it is clear that Facebook intends to monetize this new feature sooner rather than later. If you haven’t gotten Graph Search yet, sign up for the beta.
The Next New Thing – the NEW Newsfeed:
Facebook announced a radical new redesign of the newsfeed in early March of this year. The redesign attempts to unify the user experience across desktop and mobile devices. At the same time, stories and ads will become more visually engaging and impactful, with more real estate devoted to visual elements, such as photos, videos, etc. The new newsfeed remains in limited beta and is rolling out slowly. If you want to get a sneak peak, you can register for the waitlist.
Your New Home Phone:
Facebook’s latest and perhaps most ambitious mobile undertaking is the launch of the Home phone. Facebook Home is a significant step in the execution of Facebook’s mobile strategy. As the name implies, Facebook essentially becomes the home screen for mobile users who install the application or purchase a pre-configured Facebook Home phone, such as the HTC First from AT&T.
Facebook Home makes the mobile experience more engaging and personally relevant from the moment the user turns on the phone. While there are no ads currently announced as part of Home, we can imagine some innovative ad opportunities in the future should adoption of Home become significant.
So, what’s the bottom line?
Looking back, it was a very busy quarter for Facebook engineering, product and marketing teams – and as a result, it was an equally busy quarter for social marketers. I recall many conversations with industry peers over the last quarter in which the question was raised as to whether Facebook was “slowing down” its pace of innovation relative to the wild ride that was 2012. Based on this installment of the Facebook Marketer’s Quarterly Roundup, I’d say the answer is a resounding and unequivocal, “No!”
Here’s to another exhilarating adventure this year in social media marketing!