Monday, November 15, 2010

Targeting Your Facebook Ads

Far and away the most popular post on this blog in recent weeks has been one written back in February, “Do Facebook Ads Work?” The answer was a strong “yes,” and research since then, including interesting findings on ad formats by Nielsen, continue to confirm that. A recent article in Bloomberg Business Week recounts the interesting story of the Nike “Write the Future” ad that was huge during the World Cup and goes on to talk about the importance of Facebook friends and the “like” function to Facebook advertisers.

To demonstrate, I wrote a hypothetical ad on Facebook; that’s Step 1. Step 2 shows the main aspects of the targeting process. The advertiser can target by location (essential; no one needs to reach all 500 million Facebook fans!) and by demographics—age and gender only. So far, not different from traditional media advertising, and it works like Google AdWords as far as the setup is concerned.

Then comes the difference! On Facebook, the advertiser can target by “Likes & Interests.” This shows Facebook’s own description of a user profile. The implication seems to be that this is all data that the user has provided on the profile page. Not exactly. Every time the user “Likes” a friend’s post new data is created. What else? It’s not entirely clear exactly what/how other data provided by users like location data is collected and used. Prof. Eben Moglen of Columbia University Law
School says Facebook is “spying for free all the time.” You can read a summary of a recent speech in which he lays out the privacy concerns, but that still begs the question of exactly where the marketing data comes from.

The richness of the data is not in question, however. Nor is the usefulness of the Estimated Reach tool. Each time the potential advertiser adjusts any one of the targeting filters, the ER changes, so the exact effect of each descriptor is known. That data alone can tell you a lot about potential market size in a given region—no cost except expenditure of your time. Farther down on the targeting page, not captured in the graphic above, is the ability to target to your page (or groups) own members and, separately to their friends. Using the ER tool on your own page can give you fascinating insights into the composition of your fan base. Do you see a new market segment representing an opportunity you were not even aware of? Or do you see that you don’t have as many people from your target segment as you wish and need to run a campaign to get more friends.

All this creates a rich stew of research and advertising opportunities. You can access all this information from the Advertising text link at the bottom of your Facebook page, whether you are an individual user or have a business page.

The final piece of good news is that you don’t even have to buy an ad to experiment with the options. Why don’t you give it a spin???

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