Commentary

Three Facebook Ad Technologies Quietly Changing the Game

I remember the first time I walked into Facebook’s offices, years ago. I was met with a sign that said, “Done is better than perfect.”

This instantly struck me as a sound way to run a technology company. The sign was there to remind employees that progress isn’t about finding absolute clarity first, then taking the perfect steps forward. It’s about moving in the right direction and finding footing faster than the competition. It’s about having the benefit of momentum on your side, knowing that progress is a messy business, and having faith that you’ll be able to double back to fix your mistakes quickly when you have retrospect on your side.

The thing that always impresses me about Facebook, however, is how well it both charges ahead and doubles back to improve things it’s already done.

One side effect of the forward progress and simultaneous, iterative improvement, however, is that keeping track of how Facebook technology works can be tough.

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This week, I thought I’d spotlight three unsung technologies helping Facebook advertisers find success. (Disclosure: my company is a Facebook Marketing Partner.)

1) Automated Image Ordering: Carousel ads (also called multi-product ads) have been a game-changer for advertisers, outperforming single-image ads in every vertical, according to Facebook. They’re so effective that the company just updated them to support mobile app ads, as well.

What’s the lesser-known technology behind the success of this unique ad type? Automatic image-order optimization, which Facebook delivers without human intervention. This means advertisers hoping to promote a few different products to the same audience can simply select the multiple images they want to include into the ad, and Facebook will intelligently display the most-clicked images and links first.  

2) Ad Sequencing: Reach and frequency advertising, which is now available through Facebook’s native Power Editor, has become a synonymous with the idea of "broadcasting" messages to many, many people. That broad reach, until recently, was only available through “traditional" broadcast media. Facebook’s success in video ads is well-documented, and completes the picture for marketers that Facebook is a legitimate vehicle to deliver massive reach and frequency.

The quiet technology inside? Reach and frequency ads are the first to include ad sequencing, which means advertisers can use them to tell a story knowing users will only see part 2 of a video ad if they've already seen part 1. This is the next evolution of ad-based story telling. Plus, advertisers can also sequence static link ads with video ads, a tactic Facebook has proven to be very effective.

3) Dynamic Product Ads: Website Custom Audiences is a well-known functionality that's changed the game of social retargeting by enabling the transition from cookies to hashed user IDs. Instead of following people around the Internet through their browsers, WCAs let advertisers cleanly retarget individual people with ads for products they’ve shopped for online, working across devices and browsers.

Dynamic product ads extend Website Custom Audiences for use in complex ecommerce situations. Dynamic product ads let ecommerce companies put the right product into the News Feed from millions of SKUs, targeting the right Facebook users minutes after those users visit product pages. 

A Motto for the Future

About a year ago, Mark Zuckerberg quietly changed the corporate motto at Facebook from “Move fast and break things” to the seemingly more grown-up “Move fast with stable infrastructure.”

The external announcement was washed away by the daily deluge of new Facebook news, and went unnoticed even by many of the most ardent Facebook beat reporters. But the change signaled Facebook’s evolution from aggressive disruptor to incumbent innovator.

If you’re afraid to double down on Facebook advertising because it might be perceived as riskier than traditional options, then I’ll share another Facebook poster with you. It reads, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” 

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