Facebook's Intent Focus Gives Search Marketers Hope For Social Targeting

by , Oct 2, 2013, 4:40 PM
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A series of recent Facebook changes related to Graph Search, status updates and mobile caught the attention of marketers that believe ad targeting on the social platform could get a whole lot better.

Marketers like aimClear associate creative director Annalise Kaylor believe that changes point to "massive potential" for tying the keywords in status updates to intent. "Imagine you just heard about a new product released by your favorite company," she said. "You can Google it or maybe just search Facebook and end up on their actual Timeline, though we know practically no one does it today."

Kaylor said keywords in status updates will undoubtedly become indexed in search, too, and perhaps even added to a layer in Facebook built on "social context."

Facebook Graph Search on Monday began posting status updates, photo captions, check-ins and comments to find shared content among friends.

Accurately targeting Facebook members isn't that difficult. Content posted on the site allows researchers to predict with 92% accuracy a member's gender, and more than half the time accurately guess their age within three years, according to a social linguistic study from PLOS ONE where scientists at the University of Pennsylvania examined language in 75,000 Facebook profiles.

Status updates, real-time data and analyzing linguistics makes targeting in Facebook a lot easier for organic marketer, according to Marty Weintraub, aimClear founder and evangelist. He said the changes strengthen a once weak feature: using Graph Search to find like-minded users in real-time to target ads. Check-ins will help. Mobile targeting will become so finite that one garden shop will have the ability to target a consumer who posted a picture of a tree while in a competitor's.

Aaron Goldman, Kenshoo CMO, said incorporating status updates makes Facebook Graph Search more valuable for site members searching for content in the social network, and advertisers trying to reach them. While Facebook shuttered Sponsored Results this past summer, opportunities for mining real-time intent improved. It's a trend that Kenshoo identified early on.

This week, Kenshoo released a platform that takes signals from inventory systems, product catalogs, Google Merchant Center and Product Listing Ad campaigns select and target advertisements on Facebook. Initial tests by brands using Demand-Driven Campaigns saw click-through rates, conversions and ROI rise 62%, 41%, and 62%, respectively, as well as cost per action and cost per click fall 45% and 23%, respectively.

Some are a little more skeptical. Rob Griffin, executive vice president, global director of digital product development at Havas Media Group, doesn't believe that brands initially will see much change, but in time as the amount of data increases, Facebook will start to build better algorithms to answer search results.

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