Facebook Launches Targeted Brand Posts in New Bid for Advertisers

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It seems we just can’t enough of Facebook, either reviling the world’s largest social network or checking in on it—14 times a day—according to research by IDC, which was sponsored by Facebook. 

It’s a perfect social media storm for the latest FB feature that lets brands target users for status updates that don’t appear on their brand pages. The units, called “posts,” are actually links to a brand’s homepage or Facebook Page that run in the News Feed. Testing is underway for behavioral-targeting-based Facebook Exchange ads to run there as well—center-page real estate previously off limits.

“For example, a sporting goods brand could run a post appealing to basketball fans. While the post wouldn’t appear on the brand’s Page, it would run in the News Feed of fans who have an affinity for the sport,” explains Mashable. “The unit can be used for A/B testing of ads. In other words, a marketer can run two or more different messages and then see which ones do the best.”[more]

A clear bonanza for advertisers and for Facebook, consumer reaction has yet to be gauged. “It’s going to be interesting to see if consumers balk at this,” Rebecca Lieb, digital ad analyst with Altimeter Group told CNET. “You looked at that laptop. You looked at that purse. You looked at those shoes. And there they are in your News Feed. There are still plenty of consumers who don’t understand how this works and might find this a little jarring … not that it hasn’t happened to them before, but because it happens in their Facebook News Feed.”

Mashable calls it Facebook’s version of Twitter’s targeted tweets.

To leverage data beyond what users reveal about themselves in order to better target ads served, Facebook has partnered with several data firms including: Acxiom, an aggregator of data from financial services companies, government documents and court records; Epsilon, which gathers transaction data from retailers; Datalogix, which offers information on spending habits of Americans across jewelry, cough medicine and college tuition; and BlueKai, which creates cookies for brands to track customer visits.

“Our goal is to improve the relevance of ads people see on Facebook and the efficacy of marketing campaigns,” Gokul Rajaram, product director for ads at Facebook told the New York Times.

Speaking for the consumer, “Targeted advertising bears important implications for consumers,” notes the Times. “It could mean seeing advertisements based not just on what they “like” on Facebook, but on what they eat for breakfast, whether they buy khakis or jeans and whether they are more likely to give their wives roses or tulips on their wedding anniversary. It means that even things people don’t reveal on Facebook may be discovered from their online and offline proclivities.”

“At the very least,” Debra Aho Williamson, eMarketer analyst told the Times, consumers will be “forced to become more aware of the data trail they leave behind them and how companies are putting all that data together in new ways to reach them…data is the new currency of marketing.”

Overall, Facebook has made a lot of adjustments lately to better serve brands and advertisers. Earlier this month, the site announced it would be testing hashtags, a first for Facebook, in order for users to see posts focused around a certain topic, and, inevitably spending more time on the site and getting more exposure to ads. On the mobile front, improvements to their mobile app install ads launched last fall now deliver ads to users on Wi-Fi, “a particularly good fit for apps that require significant data usage.” Facebook tells developers they can create and launch mobile app install campaigns with FB’s ad creation tool in minutes.

Another new Facebook offering to entice users to spend more time is YamgoTV, an app bringing more than 100 fully-licensed live and linear TV channels to the world’s largest social network without ever leaving the FB page, which now has 82,567 likes. Yamgo has a user-base of over 35 million monthly views. “Watching TV has become a huge social experience, we’re not just watching along with the people in our living rooms anymore, we’re watching with the whole world,” said Ian Mullins, founder and CEO in a statement.

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