Facebook today removes the "beta" label from its fledgling real-time-bidding ad exchange (official blog post), and has given its 15 platform partners permission to crow about their early results. And crow they have…
Here are two big takeaways from the wave of FBX data coming out this morning: (1) Facebook Exchange dramatically increases the amount of "brand safe" inventory available through RTB during 9-5 working hours, amounting to a substantial step forward in reach for programmatic media, and (2) Acquisition costs are substantially lower through FBX than through other programmatic channels, possibly as a result of the still-limited sources of demand being exposed to the inventory Facebook has made available.
For those keeping count, the current tally of 15 RTB partners is one more than we reported in our last count -- with search and social bidding platform Kenshoo recently joining the pack.
Facebook's partners are pushing out data points including campaign cost, user ad response, return on ad spend, and other metrics. Not surprisingly, the results are flattering to FBX, indicating solid ROI and conversion rates for clients sourcing campaigns on the platform during the alpha and beta trials. To get at the marketplace's potential weak points, we may have to read between the lines a bit.
So here goes, partner by partner…
Triggit: For two different clients (Shutterfly and SurveyMonkey) Triggit has accomplished 4x the return-on-ad-spend at one-fifth the cost per acquisition of their traditional (non-Facebook) RTB ad campaigns. Additionally, their conversion rates have been 2.2x higher than traditional RTB, and conversion lift has been 18 to 30% higher than a control group of users who did not see FBX ads.
Triggit also found Facebook Exchange brings huge amounts of retargeting inventory into the middle of the day, in contrast to traffic bursts for traditional RTB that tend to pile up during non-work hours (mostly at lunch and in the evening). Of course, the reason is that large numbers of workers are on Facebook throughout the day.
CEO Zach Coelius tells AdExchanger, "We went into this thinking, 'Hey, if this works as well as normal retargeting we're great.' It's better – amazingly better." The DSP, which has pivoted to focus on Facebook platform, has "a couple dozen" clients now live on FBX.
There's more in Triggit's blog post.
Xaxis: WPP's trading desk is the only holding company entity to be on Facebook's list of RTB partners, and has run campaigns on behalf of a handful of clients. Among them is an unidentified fast-food restaurant, which used FBX to drive new orders while lowering cost-per-order by 22 percent compared with similar campaigns that didn't run on the exchange.
CEO Brian Lesser is over the moon about the possibilities: "With the launch of FBX, Facebook not only instantly multiplies the overall size of the RTB market, it provides high-quality inventory that is brand safe and extremely targeted," he says.
AdRoll: AdRoll has run campaigns for 60 brands, including Room & Board, Hootsuite and GoPro. It says FBX campaigns have generally launched within one hour of receiving approved creative, and advertisers are seeing an average ROI of 16x.
Turn: Demand-side platform Turn has done an integration with FBX that can support billions of daily requests from Facebook. Since it went live with the exchange in June, it has enabled 50 campaigns and identified "a significant number" of unique users there that can't be found on other exchanges.
Turn's agency trading desk partners that have leveraged FBX include Omnicom's Accuen, Aegis's Amnet and IPG's Mediabrands Audience Platform. The latter of these is working with Chrysler Group to leverage the Facebook Exchange.
On results, Turn CEO Bill Demas said, "Advertisers have achieved their overall campaign goals very quickly, which underscores the quality of FBX inventory and its potential as an important part of the media mix."
TellApart: FBX ads for OnlineShoes.com earned clicks from 15 percent of users that were served them, says the retargeter. (That does not mean the click-through rate is 15%. The number of impressions per user was surely much higher than one.) Across all customers, this "user CTR" metric is 6.6% on both the Facebook Exchange and Doubleclick Ad Exchange.
The Trade Desk: Acquisition costs are sublime, says CEO Jeff Green. One client is achieving conversions at half the CPA of other sources of inventory.
AppNexus: For indie trading desk platform Accordant, FBX delivered increased reach through AppNexus, while reducing advertisers’ CPAs by as much as 25 percent. Meanwhile Bizo delivered a 30 percent lift in reach "while maintaining key metrics such as impression to conversion rates."
Like Xaxis's Lesser, AppNexus SVP Andy Atherton sees revolutionary potential in Facebooks' sheer volume of "quality" ad space. "There is no doubt in my mind that the Facebook Exchange will open new doors for many of our clients," he writes in a blog post.
DataXu: CEO Mike Baker calls initial results "very positive, particularly around customer acquisition efforts."
Nanigans: One of only two FBX partners to already be certified with Facebook Ads API badge, Nanigans sees potential for granular creative. "A retailer could…deliver Facebook ads to people who have added products to their shopping carts with creative specific to those products."
A few observations based on what the partners have shared:
-Campaign costs are reasonable. Much of the new data has to do with very low cost-per-acquisition and impressive ROAS. In addition to the above, Bizo's Russell Glass wrote a piece for Digiday this week disclosing FBX delivered 300% "better" cost-per-leads, at prices 66 to 80% less than "an equivalent high-quality display impression."
-Retargeting is still the rule. Back during the launch, Facebook billed its exchange as a means to capture retargeting dollars. Very little in the early slate of results indicates it has been used otherwise, though there are indications that major brands (Chrysler, a major QSR chain) are sniffing around.
-Wither user response and price data? Notably absent is click-through rate and CPM data. We explicitly asked for this from one partner and were told clients had declined to share. We assume Facebook is not eager for user response rates and pricing information to be out there either.
-Cross-channel analytics. There's no data available as yet on the interrelation of Facebook ads with ads on other sites. Xaxis says, "An advertiser might identify an increase in performance when pairing a Facebook ad with a specific online video ad shown on a different site." Might, but will they?
-Facebook-to-Facebook comparison still missing. Comparing results data to native Facebook advertising is certainly possible, but no one in the early results have shared such results.
-Volume is still an open question. Facebook’s ad inventory comprises more than a quarter of the available US display ad impressions, according to comScore, and many of the beta partners are focused on the reach possible on Facebook. But it's not clear how much of that inventory will be allowed to flow into the exchange.
Footnote: Several FBX partners announced their involvement in the exchange this morning, but did not release specific results. These include Optimal, Criteo, Nanigans, and Rocket Fuel.