The Art Of War In Facebook Advertising

bob-buchData-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Bob Buch, CEO at Manifest Commerce, a division of Rakuten Marketing

If Sun Tzu were to update “The Art of War” to include modern-day digital advertising, he would say, “When engaging in battle within a walled garden where one cannot travel in or out of the wall, one must fight the battle with resources from within the wall.”

When dealing with a walled garden like Facebook where you can not transport your data in or out of the wall, you must find ways to reuse the data within those walls. With the company announcing the shutdown of the Facebook Exchange (FBX) last week, it is now more important than ever for advertisers to learn how to leverage their assets from inside the Facebook walls.

Last year, Facebook launched a product called Dynamic Product Ads (DPA), and it was a game-changer. Until that point, advertisers were using FBX as the primary way to advertise on Facebook. The FBX method allowed advertisers to transport data about their customers freely in and out of Facebook, but the downside was that they could not reach customers on mobile devices.

With DPA, advertisers can bring their customer data into Facebook to perform mobile retargeting – but all the learnings remain stuck inside the Facebook walls.

The Facebook walled garden has been a disruptive blow to the traditional display retargeters, including Criteo, TellApart and AdRoll. They have all developed solutions inside the wall on DPA, but they have lost the advantage that they used to have on FBX. The strongest selling point of the retargeters was that they had years of cookie data to help them determine which users spend the most money online, and they used that data to help advertisers be smarter about reaching their best customers.

However, none of that data can be used inside the wall, so with DPA those retargeters are on a level playing field with any other provider that has developed a DPA product on Facebook.

Running DPAs with a retargeter does not gain any advantage for the advertiser on Facebook. While most retargeters now possess the capability to run DPAs, they have not invested in the ability to run prospecting campaigns on Facebook. All of their investments have been in the catapults from outside the walls, but they haven’t invested in the swords and shields required for battle inside the wall. Advertisers that want to maximize their opportunity on Facebook should be looking for partnerships that enable them to leverage the data from their DPAs to empower their other Facebook activities.

If advertisers want to win within the wall, they need to use swords and shields in the form of prospecting campaigns. Facebook has vast troves of social data that enable advertisers to perform far more advanced marketing techniques than are possible elsewhere.

For example, an advertiser can use the data from their retargeting campaigns to help them perform more efficient prospecting campaigns. Facebook offers a product called Lookalike Audiences, which uses all the information that users provide to Facebook about their likes and interests to group them together by similarity. As an advertiser, you can hand Facebook any “seed” audience and ask it to build a lookalike audience of users similar to that seed. By using DPAs for retargeting, an advertiser can better inform the makeup of those seed audiences based on what they see already working on Facebook.

The question marketing VPs are grappling with at the moment is whether to consolidate all their retargeting spend or consolidate all their Facebook spend. The argument for conducting Facebook retargeting with the same provider they use for prospecting is far more compelling because of the interoperability of data within the Facebook walls.

Sun Tzu said, “He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.” With 1.6 billion people on Facebook, there is little reason to fight to break into the walled garden when there are plenty of battles to win inside the walls.

Follow Bob Buch (@bobbuch), Manifest Commerce (@manifestads) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

 

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