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Facebook Q4 Ad Developments: Messaging, Search Marketing And Location-Aware Ads

Facebook Becomes A Mobile Messaging Giant

What Happened: Facebook® made its Messenger product a standalone app. Soon after, Facebook released another standalone app called Groups, which enables teams of people to engage with content in the same way they might on Timeline, but with more privacy.

Why It Matters: As Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained during a live Q&A session, messaging is one of the few things people do more than social networking. BI Intelligence data agree, reporting that people spend more than half of their daily mobile time communicating with others through calls, texts and emails. Conversely, 15 percent of that time is spent social networking.

Facebook already is the largest social network, with more than 1.3 billion people. Facebook is creating a messaging platform at similar scale, with more than 1 billion people on Messenger and WhatsApp (the messaging service purchased for $22 billion in February) combined. And as Groups builds steam (which is likely, considering Messenger added 300 million people in less than seven months), those numbers are only going to grow.

Facebook is building a constellation of brands addressing the two activities consuming most of people’s mobile time around the world. Soon, Facebook will learn how ads fit naturally into these apps. When that happens, brands will have a new marketing channel with new triggers (think ad personalization based on conversation content) to optimize creative and audiences.

Moreover, it will be measured through Facebook’s rich audience insights. Since these tools are combined with Atlas’ advanced measurement, brands will learn what mobile placement, whether a part of Facebook’s brand family or not, is driving the best performance. Cross-device reporting will further demonstrate how ad exposures in any mobile property drive revenue both online and off.

Instagram Reaches 300 Million Monthly Active Users

What Happened: Instagram added more than 100 million monthly active users in the past nine months, growing its total active user base to 300 million.

Why It Matters: Instagram’s growth provides advertisers another big reach opportunity as its ad platform expands. Furthermore, according to Re/code, Instagram is now one of the top five largest social tools in terms of monthly active users. Interestingly, every other app in the top five except WeChat (only dominant in China) is owned by Facebook. This means many of the largest social networks in the market are under the same data and tracking umbrella.

Marketers will follow the eyeballs. And considering just how many eyeballs are flocking to Instagram and other Facebook properties, marketers will gain more insight into how people interact with each property. They can then surface collective insights to serve the best message to the best person on the best platform at the best time.

The results from cross-platform advertising within the Facebook family are already materializing. For example, Mercedes-Benz was the first brand ever to launch consistent, paid branding ads on both Instagram and Facebook. When the brand later introduced direct-response on Facebook, it saw a 580 percent lift in website visits from those previously exposed to brand content.

Facebook To Enter Search Marketing?

What Happened: Facebook updated its search functionality to allow people to find posts that have been shared with them. In the past, Facebook Search enabled people to search for other people and Pages, as well as web results populated by Bing, Microsoft’s search engine. Now, instead of populating search results from offsite locations, the platform is focused on building a search experience centered around finding old posts on the platform. People can input keywords into search to find thoughts, experiences and memories from their Facebook friends. Search will still only bring up content that you have chosen to share with friends.

Why It Matters: First, this development shows the power of Facebook’s engineering team, which indexed more than a trillion posts to make this a reality. As Gizmodo’s Chris Mills describes, that’s “quite a lot of crap to be sifting through.” More importantly, the effort may provide brands with a fresh trove of intent data to trigger relevant ads. For example, people may type “European vacation” into Facebook Search to peruse photos of their friends’ European adventures and find inspiration for their next international excursion. Relevant brands may then be able to act on that intent data by serving ads for discount European flights into the search stream.

Organic Facebook Reach Declines Further, Changes Nothing

What Happened: Facebook surveyed hundreds of thousands of people and discovered most don’t like being served promotional brand content (asking them to buy, redeem an offer) as organic Page posts. Promotional brand posts will therefore have almost no organic delivery starting early this year.

Why It Matters: In a world where brands could actually reach people at scale with organic content, this would mean “use organic Page posts to build emotional connections with audiences and reserve the promotional stuff for ads.” But, organic reach is already so small (learn why in this SocialCode post) that no brand, even those following a playbook of organic best practices, will achieve their full potential with a purely organic strategy.

To illustrate, imagine a brand is sponsoring Olympic athletes. A quality video series about those athletes that features branded pre-roll would be exempt from additional reach declines and serve to a few thousand people organically. However, the brand can achieve so much more by scaling those videos as advertisements to the largest qualified audience possible. By doing so, it opens up opportunity to capture all the people who completed its videos (indicating interest), and retargeting them with promotional content; a strategy we’ve seen perform incredibly well.

The path to ROI is still paying to distribute great content to the right people, at optimal frequency, just like any other media investment.

Facebook’s Mobile Display Network Opens To Marketers Worldwide

What Happened: After launching in limited beta, Facebook’s mobile display network – Facebook Audience Network – is now widely available. In addition to broad access, marketers can now use Facebook Audience Network to drive people to their mobile websites with link ads. The only ad units available previously were app install and app engagement ads.

Why It Matters: When Facebook Audience Network was first introduced in the spring, we explained the opportunity of adding reach beyond the 1.3 billion people on Facebook while preserving the rich audience data that make the platform so powerful. Opening the Audience Network up demonstrates the platform was successful in recruiting an early roster of mobile app developer and publishing partners and that opportunity is evolving into reality. Looking at performance, a recent study found that both conversion rates and average revenue generated per person for app marketers were higher in Facebook Audience Network than Facebook itself.

Facebook’s Updated Privacy Policy Indicates Location-Aware And Purchase-Based Ad Aspirations

What Happened: Facebook made a number of key updates to its privacy policy, simplifying documentation around how data collection impacts ads.

Why It Matters: On the surface, these updates build transparency between the platform and the people using it. Shorter and simpler documentation about what Facebook does with sensitive information helps people make smarter decisions about what they post. Smarter decisions breed trust and engagement, making the platform all the more valuable to brands.

It goes further though.

The updated privacy policy cements some of Facebook’s biggest advertising aspirations. For example, Facebook states it is “working on ways to show you the most relevant information based on where you are and what your friends are up to.” Products like Nearby Friends prompt people to tell Facebook where they are so they can see if buddies are in the neighborhood for a hang out. Facebook is indicating that it wants to pair that location data with interest signals harvested from peoples’ profiles to serve ads for stuff people would like to buy at nearby merchants.

The update also explains that anytime people use Facebook payment services, the platform collects data on the transaction. This means marketers have another avenue to learn when, and on what device, consumers are purchasing, creating more signals as to what is driving people to buy.

Facebook Reveals New Strategies For Monetizing Hispanic Audiences

What Happened: Facebook commissioned consumer insights firm IPSOS MediaCT to conduct a study around how US Hispanics interact with the platform.

Key Findings:

Facebook is the top platform for US Hispanic communication. 71 percent use Facebook everyday.

U.S. Hispanics are mobile power users. 79 percent use the mobile web and 74 percent use mobile while watching TV.

Culture is important. 80 percent prefer ads with Spanish messaging.

Brand content is big, especially for female and bilingual Hispanics in the US. 40 percent of these two segments share ad content.

Video and News Feed ads create results. The two ad types capture interest more than 50 percent of the time.

Why It Matters: According to Nielsen, US Hispanics have a buying power of $1.2 trillion, making them one of the most coveted audience targets next to Millennials and moms. Consequently, understanding how this demographic uses Facebook is key to tapping that massive revenue opportunity. Based on these findings, marketers interested in moving the needle with US Hispanics would be well-advised to deploy the following strategies:

1. Use language-targeting tools to create audiences of US Hispanics who post predominantly in Spanish, predominantly in English or entirely in either language. Since cultural relevance is important, using the most appropriate language in brand ads is key.

2. Emphasize mobile content.

3. Deploy video and News Feed ads to achieve the best engagement possible within this brand-accepting demographic.

Facebook Adds Call-To-Action Buttons To Pages

What Happened: Brands can now embed a call-to-action button in their Facebook Pages. These buttons will be featured in the cover photo and can prompt people to go offsite and take actions including:Book Now, Contact Us, Use App, Play Game, Shop Now, Sign Up and Watch Video.

Why It Matters: Facebook introduced call-to-action buttons in ads earlier this year. The concept is intuitive: make the specific action you want people to take as obvious as possible. Replicating the functionality on Pages is a natural extension, giving advertisers a simple tool to achieve both brand and sales goals. For example, personal grooming retailer Dollar Shave Club tested the Sign Up call-to-action button for three weeks, driving people directly to the brand’s website. The company’s Director of Acquisition Brian Kim explains, “the Sign Up call-to-action button delivered a 2.5x higher conversion rate versus other comparable social placements aimed to drive new user acquisition.”

This announcement will also afford marketers more tools to learn and optimize. For example, by testing the same call-to-action button’s performance in both brand ads and brand Pages, marketers can learn the placements driving the best results.

Market Mobile Apps More Effectively

What Happened: Mobile app marketers now have three new tools to achieve their goals. More specifically:

1. Marketers can now run mobile app reach-and-frequency campaigns.

Why It Matters: Reach and Frequency campaigns maximize the unique number of people served. Since reach is the KPI most closely associated with product awareness, this functionality is particularly useful for major app launches or updates. Further, qualified people may digest a mobile app and, for a number of reasons, be unable to install immediately. For example, they may be on a 3G connection and lack the bandwidth. By guaranteeing delivery to target audiences multiple times, marketers increase the likelihood that people will be both able and interested in downloading when served a mobile app ad.

2. Marketers can now include autoplay videos in mobile app install ads.

Why It Matters: Marketers have a creative option to test against app ads with still photos to determine which drives better performance.

3. Marketers can now target Amazon Fire tablets specifically.

Why It Matters: While a niche use case, brands that need to deliver message specifically to Fire users can now do so without waste.

Facebook® is a registered trademark of Facebook Inc.

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  • Ben Weiss, Marketing Content Strategist

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