Remarketing Comes To Facebook

Rejoice! Remarketing has come to Facebook. Okay, that headline is a bit misleading, since technically up until now you could use a third party to remarket with FBX. But now anyone can do it – even the nonprofit with only five employees and no money to pay a third party. 

Website Custom Audiences

If you're not familiar with the concept of remarketing, it's basically a way to cookie people who visit your website and show those people ads specifically targeted to them. The classic example of remarketing is showing ads to people who have left items in their cart in an online store. You've probably seen remarketing ads targeted to you – "You forgot something!" with a picture of the shoes you were mulling over. With website custom audiences, Facebook now lets you remarket people who have visited your website (or part of your website) and serve Facebook Ads specifically to those people.



How to Create and Use a Website Custom Audience

While it's possible to use Ad Manager to create website custom audiences, I find it a lot easier and more efficient to use Power Editor. Navigate to the Audiences tab in Power Editor, click "Create Audience," then the "Custom Audience" dropdown. Next it will ask you to accept the terms and conditions, view the remarketing pixel (which we'll use later), and enter information about your audience. Make sure the name and description you enter clearly explains who the custom audience will consist of. 

Next, add parameters that define specifically what you want to track. First, choose "Visited->domain" and enter your website URL so it knows what website to look at. If your website uses subdomains make sure not to include the "www." to ensure proper tracking. Then click "And+" to add another parameter and select "And->URL." If you want to track anyone who visits your website, just enter a "/" here and it will track everything. If you want to be more specific and track, say, people who have visited one of your donation pages, you need to enter all or part of the URL that you want to track. I mention part of the URL because many donation pages use session IDs or other parameters so the URL will never be exactly the same. In that instance, you want to find the common part of the URL that is present in all of the donation page URLs, like "quick_donate," and add that to the URL section. Once you've finished adding parameters, it's a good idea to test whether everything you set up will actually work! Click "Test This Rule" and enter an example URL (in this case a donation page URL) in the Test URL field. If there are green check marks and no red X's, you're good to go!

Just under the parameter options, you'll see an option to change the duration of the audience. The default is 30 days, but you can extend it to as long as 180 days. The duration defines how long people should be kept in your audience, 30 days meaning they visited your website or specific page 30 days ago. While there are advantages to longer durations, there are some ad fatigue issues to think about. If you're running continuous remarketing campaigns and I visited your site yesterday, I could see your ads for 180 days before I'm taken out of your website custom audience (talk about fatigue!). However, if you're only running ads for a week, it might be beneficial to you to build up an audience over 180 days so you have more people to target once you launch the ads. Lots to consider!

Now, before you click "Create" we need to get the unique remarketing pixel or snipped of code that will do the tracking. On the same page where you just added the parameters, click "View Remarketing Pixel" and it will pop up with a script. Copy that pixel and save it in an email draft or .txt file so you have it for the future (it's hard to find the script again later). To place the pixel, go into your website's CMS and paste the code just before the </head> tag on your website's template (if that's over your head send a quick email to your developers or web team and they'll know how). The pixel needs to be placed on the entire website, because Facebook will continue to use that pixel for all future website custom audiences. That's good news, because the next audience you create will only need the URL parameters, it won't require any more edits to your site!

Like all other custom audiences, applying your new website custom audience to an ad's targets is pretty simple, assuming your audience title is clear. Navigate to the ad in question within Power Editor. Go to the second breadcrumb "Audience" where you'll see Custom Audiences and Excluded Audiences. Start typing the name of the audience you just created and it will pop up as an option. If you created an audience you wish to exclude, like people who have completed their donation and reached the thank you page, create a website custom audience for only those users and add it to the Excluded Audiences field.

Lookalike Audiences

I've covered lookalike audiences in previous Facebook Advertising posts, but now that they're available for remarketing it's worth covering again. A lookalike audience looks at the users in one of your custom audiences and creates a new audience of similar users. So in this example, if you created a website custom audience of everyone who's ever visited your donation thank you page (meaning people who have successfully donated), if you create a lookalike audience Facebook will find users it thinks are similar, who are much more likely to also donate to your organization! In order to do this, go to the Audiences tab in Power Editor, select the website custom audience that you just created, and then click "Create Lookalike Audience" at the bottom of the page.

The Creepy Factor

As with all remarketing efforts, there is a bit of a "creepy" factor. Some users don't like seeing that an ad knows specifically who they are and what they were just looking at or doing on your site. On the other hand, because remarketed ads are so targeted, they can be a lot more effective than normal ads (I know I'm more likely to click an ad if it has a picture of the beautiful shoes I was considering yesterday!). Be mindful of this when writing your ad copy, and try to walk the fine line between creepy and helpful – it may be beneficial to test different phrasings.

3 comments about "Remarketing Comes To Facebook".
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  1. Dale Brose from dBroseGroup, February 24, 2014 at 3:50 p.m.

    Love all of this type of stuff. I've been waiting for FB to release remarketing ability from in-app traffic. By reading this, I assume this is strictly for website traffic and the process for in-app retargeting is still no released to all advertisers. Heard anything about that? Thanks.

  2. Lauren Kade from National Wildlife Federation, February 25, 2014 at 10:05 a.m.

    Hi Dale! The new custom audience is strictly for website traffic and not in-app traffic. I did some research online, though, and it looks like this article thinks you could do some in-app retargeting using the Facebooks SDK? I'll have to research it more and do a future post! :)

  3. ujco sk from sk, February 25, 2014 at 5:25 p.m.

    FB remarketing is a cool stuff and it works pretty good.
    The only problem is that you first need to attract your audience to your web page.
    I started a new business and I was able to get lot of new customers from my competition with Custom Audience. I am using tool's like to generate custom audience.

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