As the Media industry is still discussing the implications of Facebook Exchange to the market, one interesting case study that hopefully will come from the alpha that the industry I’ve been mulling over is: what’s more effective – retargeting on Facebook using an advertiser’s cookie pool(s) or retargeting based on Action Spec Targeting? The former retargeting scenario is the most common in today’s market in which an advertiser tags their site (homepage, various pages within purchase funnel, etc.) to create cookie pools that will be used to go find those users on the interwebs. The latter retargeting scenario is executed on Facebook by using Action Spec Targeting functionality thanks to of Open Graph. Advertisers have spent a majority of their time focused on Prospecting/Acquiring Fans on Facebook that they’ve virtually ignored the opportunity to retarget on Facebook with Action Spec targeting to date. With the roll out of Facebook Exchange it’s put an emphasis back on Retargeting, but like with any new opportunity Advertisers will make initial mistakes.
Facebook Exchange is a big win for Advertisers with sophisticated cookie pools looking to gain the same efficiencies and targeting on Facebook that they execute across the Exchanges. FBx give Advertisers a platform to utilize the robust first party data they have of its users outside of Facebook. For many brands, they don’t care who likes their posts – they care about the users that browsed a particular car to serve an ad to in order to push them further down the funnel. Automakers have intricate retargeting pools based on intent indicators such homepage visit, car information page visit, and dealership locator page. However, what if that automaker built an app on Facebook allowing users to customize and virtually test drive the car in order to target the custom Action Spec from the app – i.e. ‘test drove’? Smaller audience to target compared to the previous visitors of car site cookie pool? Probably. But potentially a better indicator of interest compared to the more passive behavior of just visiting the site unless an Advertiser’s Open Graph strategy is lacking.
Open Graph has the potential to muddle targeting for an Advertiser by mixing intent vs. inferred actions. Advertisers had the same issue early on with Retargeting across the Exchanges using a ‘cookie cutter’ mentality instead of custom approach. There are different degrees of sharing across Open Graph apps – e.g. reading, posting, listening, reviewing, and voting. When I listen to my workout playlist on Spotify I tend to switch it to ‘Private Mode’ so I don’t out myself as a cheesy 90s rap and pop fan to my friends on Facebook. God forbid I get targeted with a K-Ci & JoJo concert because of it. However, if I’ve used my Nike+ app and post it to Facebook then I’ve raised my hand to tell Facebook and its advertisers “I’m a neat lady who keeps fit – send me ads at your leisure”. But how does an Advertiser distinguish between the two? Additionally, a major limitation to Ad Spec targeting IS targeting. What I mean is that the typical Facebook targeting features such as interest, demo, etc. cannot be used if using Action Spec targeting functionality to target ads. Advertiser’s ability to understand target audience on Facebook beyond interaction with the Advertiser’s app is severely hindered without other data points.
Just like with multiple Retargeting pools, Advertisers can leverage Action Spec Targeting to target a spectrum of ‘light’ to ‘heavy’ actions. An Advertiser’s cookie pool based on homepage visits is most likely the largest, but least indicative of a potential customer than the Advertiser’s 2nd page of its purchasing process. Same logic applies to Facebook retargeting when looking at an Advertiser’s fan base compared to its app users. The funnel below shows the simple, top level view of how Facebook strategies fit into the traditional Prospecting and Retargeting buckets.
Advertisers will become savvier with their retargeting efforts across Facebook by ditching the cookie cutter mentality when creating apps and other engagement vehicles to later retarget users from once best practices are realized. What Action Spec Targeting has that FBx Retargeting lacks and what FBx Retargeting has that Action Spec Targeting lacks should hopefully be somewhat negated when used in tandem. Action Spec Targeting and Facebook Exchange retargeting activity should compliment each other on an Advertiser’s media strategy instead of being one or the other. Advertisers and agencies should start to compare retargeting pool results to action spec targeting to understand how valuable their Facebook fans and app users are really worth as well as their own cookie pool data to their Media performance.