According to Merkle, Facebook's Custom Audiences program and its related lookalike modeling tools lead the pack when it comes to customer prospecting.
Merkle bills itself as a CRM agency, so the company knows a thing or two about database matching online. Paul Steketee, head of paid social and emerging media, said match rates on Facebook are three times what clients can expect when matching against traditional display ads on the "open Web." Meanwhile, Facebook's lookalike modeling product – which uses Facebook's algorithms to find audiences that resemble existing customers -- is "consistently the most efficient form of prospecting."
Merkle recommends Facebook lookalikes as part of every media plan. And these targeting factors are even more powerful in mobile.
"It's a way to reach those people directly without the issues of cookie-based targeting," he said. "It's also a way to work across the Facebook platform -- desktop, mobile, tablet. And the click-through rates are insane.”
"Insane" in this case means as high as 5%, thanks to the screen footprint of Facebook’s mobile News Feed. "If you think about the amount of real estate you can get in the News Feed ad on a mobile device, you are able to take over the screen for a second."
So what's next for Facebook's data plans? It has covered many bases: retargeting (Facebook Exchange, March 2012), database matching (Custom Audiences, Sept 2012), "black box" optimization (Lookalikes, March 2013), and third-party data segments (Partner Categories, April 2013).
"So much has been done. It's a lot about execution now," said Steketee. But he sees at least one looming opportunity.
"One thing that is still developing is the idea of hashtags. It's doing more with real-time conversations, like what Twitter is doing with keyword targeting."