Facebook is taking aim at small and medium-sized businesses with the latest update to its Custom Audiences database-matching program. In addition to the current setup, advertisers will be able to use Custom Audiences in a simplified way through the Ads Create tool.
“To use Custom Audiences, advertisers had to use Power Editor or have access to the Ads API, which few small businesses do,” said Bryan Schroeder, product marketing director of data and audience targeting at Facebook. “Ads Create tool is a simplified way to utilize our targeting features and now advertisers can use it to upload their first-party data for targeting on Facebook, too.”
Schroeder declined to reveal the amount of revenue Custom Audiences pulls in, but claimed it is used by “thousands of advertisers.”
Being able to connect a business’ offline data with its online data has been a challenge for many marketers. Facebook created a splash when it launched Custom Audiences and, for the first time, allowed marketers to match customer phone numbers and email addresses to Facebook accounts through a hashed system to deliver targeted ads on the social network.
With Custom Audiences, businesses can send personalized promotions or offers to customers on Facebook. A retailer, for example, can send offers to customers on Facebook for items that complement those they already purchased or try to get users to sign up for its mailing lists while excluding those who have already signed up.
The move begs a comparison to Google’s AdWords, which was among the first digital ad-buying interfaces to add powerful targeting tools to the SMB tool belt.
The comparison to AdWords is even more fitting in light of Facebook's addition last week of a website retargeting capability to Custom Audiences. That offering allowed marketers to go directly to Facebook for their retargeting needs -- in the same way AdWords brought retargeting to legions of small businesses.
The new features will begin rolling out for a limited number of US advertisers today. Global rollout will begin next week, with all advertisers worldwide having access by the end of November.