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BizReport : Advertising : April 12, 2013

Facebook intros offline data to target online ads

Until now, advertisers on Facebook could only target ads based on user-supplied information. A new feature, "partner categories", will change all that and enable advertisers to target ads based on a user's past purchase history.

by Helen Leggatt

Facebook's partnership with huge consumer data firms Acxiom, DataLogix and Epsilon will see ads targeted to Facebook users based not only on their online purchase history but offline, too.

The partnership creates huge potential for brands to more accurately identify and target ads towards specific groups of users. The data is anonymous, so advertisers won't have access to the identities of those targeted.

An announcement of the new feature on the Facebook blog includes a demonstration of the partner categories feature in action. A "cereal buyer" category is shown broken down into further subsets including purchasers of children's cereal, high fiber cereal and hot cereal.

"At launch, partner categories includes more than 500 unique groups. In addition, partner categories works with other Facebook targeting options, so advertisers can further refine their campaigns to reach only the right people," said Facebook in a recent blog post. "Ads that are well targeted benefit the advertisers who run them by driving higher return on investment and are a better experience for people who see more relevant ads."

This level of targeting has long been used with the marketing industry, but it is the first time a social network has provided such rich audience insight and targeting.

"There is a tremendous opportunity for marketers to leverage offline data to reach their customers and prospective customers where and when they are deeply engaged," said Eric Stein, EVP of Online Solutions at Epsilon. "With the right data and insights, marketers can build engagement and share valuable, relevant offers and information. We've worked across multiple brands and have used the robust targeting of our partnership to drive a greater than 30% average ROI so far."

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: advertising, consumer data, Facebook, social marketing, targeted advertising

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