Imagine someone lurking over your shoulder as you pull out your credit card to buy the latest video game release. They also watch as you fist pump at that summer music festival. And they’re even hanging around as you load your car for the weekend camping trip with your family.
Don’t worry, I’m not talking about some creepy stalker, hell bent on stealing your identity and ruining your life. Instead, I just described the concept behind Facebook’s new advertising platform, partner categories. Privacy concerns are understandable, but actually a non-issue with this new feature. What, you think Facebook would just ignore that whole Internet privacy thing?
Facebook promises that your personal information isn’t shared with the social network, third parties, or advertisers. It claims that companies have used this type of targeting off of Facebook for years and that “partner categories work the same way all targeting on Facebook works.” Who are we to argue?
Partner categories introduces a whole new spectrum of targeted advertising, and is allowing any Facebook Page to set their scope on a narrowed down, exclusively specific group of potential customers, followers, or fans.
Back in February, we told you about Facebook custom audiences, which was sort of a prelude to this new and more thorough advancement. We even said, and I quote:
“With a billion users on Facebook, waste and inefficiency is a constant worry for advertisers. The social network was built to allow users to find relevant pages, but not so much the other way around. Sure, Facebook does have an ad targeting functionality, but the broad demographic information available is next to useless for some marketers.”
Well, we can scratch that.
Whole New Ballgame
Now that Partner Categories is in full effect for US advertisers, they’ve got a much bigger field to play on. It is only available in Power Editor and through the Facebook API as of now, but that could be expanded soon.
Here’s the skinny: Facebook teamed up with three outside marketing firms, which include Acxiom, Datalogix, and Epsilon. These heavyweights are providing Facebook with the data (sort of blindly, as to stay within those privacy parameters), and Facebook provides page mangers with the categories. As of now, they number above 500, and will be added to as time goes on.
Of course, the old reliable demographics from Facebook’s original ad targeting attempts, including age, gender, location, and the like, are able to be incorporated with these new specialized partner categories. The personas that can be honed in on now spread wide and far, opening opportunities to find the exact customer you know will be interested in what you’ve got.
Think about these implications: you can now execute advertising strategies for the most specific customer base possible to date. If you’re a Mexican restaurant, you can send your discount ads to people who live in your area, eat ethnic food regularly, visit restaurants frequently, have kids, drink margaritas, listen to country music, and work a 9-5 job. Now that family-friendly happy hour with live music from a Willie Nelson cover band is going to be packed, right?
You get the idea: the seemingly endless list of categories would take forever to fully describe, but noodling around inside the possible combinations can really get you thinking about who you’re trying to reach, and how well they’ll receive your ad. For the small, locally owned business, the impact could be huge.
Okay, that’s great news. But how are you supposed to use partner categories? I knew you would ask…
Setting Your Sights
Facebook made it pretty simple to set things up with partner categories. As mentioned, it’s been rolled out to the Facebook API and Power Editor; we’d recommend using Power Editor if you aren’t already.
The process couldn’t be easier; it’s finding the right combination of customer categories that will prove to be the challenge. It might also prove to be the fun part.
Start by going to the “Manage Adverts” tab under the settings menu (shout out to our social media manager Molly Pittman for hooking it up with the screenshots).
Next you’ll want to go into Power Editor, which is found over in the left hand toolbar. For more information on installing and using Power Editor, go here.
After that, you can open up “Audiences,” and there you’ll find the “Partner Categories” box. Open that up, and choose one of the three marketing firms (you can only pick one for right now).
Once inside, you can start to narrow down your hunt for the right customer category, like people who are self-employed. Hover over the info button, and you’ll get a rundown of what you’re looking at. Choose what you see fit, and your categories will be included in your advertisement targets.
The Ball’s in Your Court
The scope of Facebook advertising has been changed to give marketers some pretty amazing capabilities when it comes to social media efforts. Though there isn’t real, measurable data yet on what the exact return on investment can be using this new feature, it’s sort of a no-brainer that your ads will be more effective, no matter what you’re trying to do.
There might be some drawbacks, but that’s to be expected. If someone searched online for plane tickets to Rome, and maybe even already purchased them, they’re going to get tired of constantly seeing ads hawking another cross-Atlantic trip. There are also some people who just flat out hate all Facebook ads, and do everything in their power to ignore or stop them.
But in theory, this new age of social, online, and offline advertising cooperation is going to shift the gears of the marketing engine.