Facebook in April debuted a new targeting feature dubbed partner categories that uses members’ online purchasing histories and location to tailor ads. The self-serve ad option allows marketers to target ads across some 500 specific audience segments using third-party data from providers including Acxiom, Epsilon and Datalogix.
Facebook advertisers can use partner categories to reach the 12 million likely auto buyers in the U.S. in the next six months, or the 19 million active purchasers of hair-care products. Brands and agencies welcome the new level of targeting on Facebook based on their interests and buying habits outside the social network.
How is the new targeting tool actually working? Early results from a pair of campaigns run by Facebook ad partner SocialCode using partner categories have shown promising results, albeit based on a limited sample. One campaign, on behalf of a retail client that ran for a week and had almost 950,000 impressions, used both standard targeting and targeting utilizing partner categories.
The latter generated an engagement-per-Like (EPL) ratio of 1.4% compared to 0.2% for ads with standard targeting. EPL measures the percentage of interactions on a Facebook brand page in relation to the number of “Likes” for a particular ad served by that brand. SocialCode tracks engagement through a Like for 28 days after the click. The firm said partner categories boost engagement from new fans by sevenfold.
A separate weeklong campaign for a financial-services client generating 98 million impressions and using both types of targeting also favored ads using partner categories. Standard targeting produced an EPL of 43.4% compared to 195% for ads using the new purchase-based targeting feature.
In short, SocialCode said the early results suggest partner categories, by reaching a more relevant audience for a given campaign, brings in fans who engage more downstream with brands on Facebook.
The new targeting tactic is part of Facebook’s broader effort to reach specific audiences based on their offline and online activity outside the social network through various initiatives. They include the Facebook Exchange (FBX) and custom audiences. The company says it has seen positive results with these ad products to date, but has not provided much detailed data in that regard.