Facebook is the most preeminent social networking site in the world. It is not the first and probably won’t be the last, but it is likely the most important.
Facebook usage is massive because users spend large lengths of time on the site. If Facebook was a country, and its users were citizens, then it would be the second largest country behind China.
But, Facebook has become far more than just social networking, expanding from company pages and fan pages to social gaming; the variety of ways that users interact with Facebook keeps growing.
Real Time Bidding
Facebook’s influence grew again when it launched the Facebook Exchange (FBX) in September 2012. The Facebook Exchange enables programmatic buying of Facebook inventory through real time bidding. In a nutshell, marketers can buy audiences with the Facebook environment by using their first- and third-party data.
Facebook Product Marketing Manager Scott Shapiro estimated that one in every four impressions was a Facebook impression. Suddenly, with this massive amount of high-quality inventory available, advertisers have a highly-trusted environment to reach hyper-targeted audiences and in real time.
While the strategy of applying intent data to advertising campaigns is nothing new, doing it within one of the largest inventory channels allows marketers to hyper-extend what they are already doing in display.
Facebook Graph Search
The next largest announcement from Facebook was its Graph Search. For online marketers, Facebook’s Graph Search puts a different spin on social data. If you think about it, it almost becomes an overnight search engine for consumer reviews and recommendations, except from people you know or are connected with through the social network.
Facebook’s new search engine opens up an opportunity for both search and display advertisers to combine search intent with social data, and then serve ads within its own environment. With more than 900 million Facebook users, I suspect that the adoption of Facebook’s search engine will grow incrementally over time.
However, Google will remain the king of search intent while Facebook will put more value in social data and how its used by marketers for both search and display campaigns.
Although there is action in the search world from Facebook, I think its entry into the world of programmatic buying will be the defining event of 2013.
Already we are hearing reports of increased CTRs, better performance, and cost effectiveness for quality inventory. Savvy marketers should be focusing on getting comfortable with what the Facebook Exchange has to offer from a targeting perspective.
With the amount of time spent on Facebook by today’s users, frequency and reach also play a huge role in the potential of the Facebook Exchange.
comScore has reported that 15% of all time online is spent on Facebook. This gives advertisers a real opportunity to reach audiences during multiple stages of the consumer funnel and, more importantly, for both branding and direct response campaigns.
Full funnel retargeting fits nicely into the Facebook Exchange. On one hand, marketers can utilize site retargeting, reaching customers that previously visited their site, and on the other hand, advertisers can apply search data to targeting to grow their audience pool and reach new customers.
The Facebook Opportunity
According to Triggit, 60% of consumers that leave an advertiser’s site are exposed to a retargeted ad on Facebook in the first hour. There is simply so much activity and time spent on the social networking site that it’s almost impossible not to reach a customer within a relevant time period. As Graph Search takes off, there will be even more search data to marry with display campaigns.
Whether you are a marketer promoting a product, special promotion or brand message to create awareness, Facebook’s environment is an opportunity for all types of advertisers. The fact that Facebook has entered into the real time bidding market is a huge testament to the expected growth over the next decade.
As for search, we’ll see how its Graph Search plays into ad targeting, as we are at the dawn of a new era in programmatic buying and search.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.