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Facebook Q1 Ad Developments: Opportunities To Consider Right Now

This is an excerpt from our Facebook Q1 2015 Advertising Developments Intelligence Brief.

An enormous amount happened in the Facebook advertising world to kick off 2015. Marketers now have robust consumer insights to make smarter decisions. They also have dynamic product ads that serve the right products to the right people automatically, and a hybrid photo/video advertising unit that can achieve the same results as a video at lower cost. Download our full report to find out what other recent Facebook developments may mean for marketers going forward and get the latest platform research.

Topic Data

What Happened: Facebook® consumer insights are now available for select marketers. By partnering with consumer insights firm DataSift, Facebook is allowing marketers to learn what characterizes people talking about their brand and products (as indicated by keywords and related terms scraped from people’s posts and messages). Topic data can also surface aggregate information around events, activities and topics relevant for a brand. The product does so by breaking down demographic and psychographic traits, in a privacy-safe way, for people talking about a subject of interest, so marketers can learn more about them and what they care about.

The Opportunity: There are several ways large consumer brands might use Topic Data.

Understand people talking about a specific topic: Topic data provides marketers with demographic, sentiment and location breakdowns of the people engaged in relevant conversations. For example, an ice cream marketer could identify what characterizes audiences posting about ice cream on a hot day. This information can be invaluable in making smarter creative and amplifying brand impact.

Guide a product roadmap: Digital marketers across verticals use their first-party data to target existing customers. Topic data could put a decoder ring over these audiences to identify their challenges, and create solutions in the form of new products. For example, a retailer may identify its existing customers post frequently about crew-neck sweatshirts. This insight might highlight a clothing item brand reps had not considered for a forthcoming catalogue, and change its road map.

Carousel Ads

What Happened: Facebook tweaked its carousel-format ad, which includes a number of different images in one carousel that each link to a different part of a brand’s website, so that products are served to people with greater personalization.

The Opportunity: When carousel-format  ads first came out in late 2014, marketers could upload a handful of images and insert them manually into the unit in whatever order they preferred. Now, there is an option to do so more scientifically. These images can now be ordered with more relevance according to audience response data like click-through rates and interest signals harvested from people’s profiles. This feature is optional.


Dynamic Product Ads

What Happened: Marketers with many stock-keeping units (SKUs) can now serve different parts of their catalogue to different people with more relevance according to what products people browse on a brand’s website.

The Opportunity: Marketers already place a small piece of code on their website to capture people visiting certain landing pages so they can be retargeted with relevant ads. Dynamic product ads use the same kind of pixel to automate this process. So for example, if a person visits a shoe retailer’s website and browses a pair of black and white Nike Air Max 1 running shoes but never buys them, the retailer’s marketing team can now automatically serve that person an ad for the very same shoes to reignite interest.

This type of functionality was already possible through a cookie-based retargeting product called Facebook Exchange. The difference is that dynamic product ads will serve the right person the right ad, even if they are on a different device or using a different browser (two use cases during which cookie tracking is rendered ineffective). Further, products like Facebook Exchange will re-serve ads for products being browsed to everyone who browses. This could lead to wasted marketing dollars if those people are unqualified to actually make a purchase. Dynamic product ads fix this issue by allowing marketers to only auto-serve ads to people who fit a certain demographic or psychographic profile.


What Happened: Facebook introduced a new ad unit that adds subtle motion to a glossy photo ad (think “custom-branded GIF”).

The Opportunity: Marketers conveying a simple brand message should consider cycling cinemagraphs into testing. While video advertising is the standard for building positive consumer attitudes with immersive storytelling, cinemagraphs can capture attention and create stickiness without requiring as much time or attention. Lower production costs add to the value proposition as well. This format is also familiar and engaging for an emerging generation of consumers, creating a natural and effective advertising experience.


“I’m sure you’ll see more of these because they’re really successful from an organic reach perspective.”

– Guy Slattery, EVP Marketing, A&E

LiveRail: Video And Display Ads

What Happened: Facebook announced at its annual F8 developer conference that LiveRail – the ad tech platform Facebook acquired last summer — will not only support video ads, but display ads as well. Additionally, LiveRail will tap into Facebook’s anonymized demographic data so publishers in its mobile ad network can offer age-and-gender-based targeting. Facebook Audience Network is being woven into LiveRail, and will be the Facebook platform through which advertisers purchase inventory in applications other than Facebook.

The Opportunity: Before being acquired by Facebook, LiveRail automated desktop-based video ad inventory. This development means Liverail has evolved into a full mobile ad exchange supporting a range of high-impact ad units.

While marketers already had the opportunity to extend reach to third-party mobile apps in the early days of Facebook Audience Network, new integrations with Facebook demographic data provide marketers with more confidence they’re reaching the right people.

Marketers will now be able to conduct Nielsen Brand Effect studies across applications with LiveRail integrations, demonstrating if those exposed to campaign ads in a range of apps have greater ad recall, brand awareness and purchase consideration.

LiveRail-integrated apps will support Facebook pixel integration so marketers can assess conversion efficiency when running media outside Facebook natively.

It is expected that LiveRail will integrate with other ad exchanges to offer even more inventory.

Relevancy Score

What Happened: Facebook is now providing marketers with content scores based on the ratio of positive interactions (likes, comments, shares) to negative interactions (hiding, marking as spam). Scores range from one to 10 (10 being the most positive) and update as people continue interacting with content.

The Opportunity: Marketers need to prioritize their business objectives and audiences before relevancy score. For example, travel marketers could deploy ads with pictures of cute animals, accrue a lot of likes and earn a high relevancy score. However, unless the ad is aligned with the brand’s personality and gives people the opportunity to learn more, enter lead information or make a purchase, the score is meaningless. Assuming content is aligned with business results and set to serve to the right people, marketers can use relevancy scores to signal better which ads will perform at scale following a test period.

Facebook® is a registered trademark of Facebook, Inc.

Download the full Facebook Q1 2015 Advertising Developments report.

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  • Ben Weiss, Marketing Content Strategist

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