Facebook’s real-time bidding (RTB) proposition, Facebook Exchange (FBX), officially came out of beta last week, allowing advertisers to leverage their own first-party data for the first time to target users.
The exchange was unveiled back in June (nma.co.uk 14 June 2012), and was met with much positivity from the industry, which viewed it as the catalyst needed to bring RTB into the mainstream (nma.co.uk 19 June 2012).
Since June several more demand side platforms (DSPs) and agency trading desks have come on board, so partners now include AdRoll, AppNexus, Brandscreen, Criteo, DataXu, MediaMath, Nanigans, Kenshoo, Optimal, RocketFuel, Tellapart, TheTradeDesk, Triggit, Turn, Xaxis, and X+1.
Alpha and beta tests focused very much on the US, but now FBX is available more widely, how do brands, agencies and the partners involved feel about it and what it can do for the industry?
Here are some early views:
Cormac Doyle, senior online marketing manager, Stylistpick
We will test retargeting through FBX and will decide whether it works for Stylistpick based on whether it drives incremental conversions at a competitive CPA.
FBX expands the possibilities we have to reach different user groups through Facebook advertising. One option we are looking into is excluding existing customers from being displayed marketplace ads through ‘custom audience targeting’. This would help ensure that our existing customers will not be exposed to marketplace ads in addition to retargeting ads through FBX. Brands already active with ads on Facebook will need to consider how they will prevent users getting exposed to FBX retargeting ads in addition to standard Facebook marketplace ads.
Reports from the beta phase of FBX have indicated that click-through return on ad spend (click-throughs per pound spent) was relatively good. Experience after the launch will determine whether it will remain at a level that drives satisfactory performance for Stylistpick.
Advertisers that are used to retargeting users with the same products they viewed on the advertiser’s website will need to look for more creative ways of ensuring ad relevancy as it will not be possible to retarget users with the same product images they viewed on an external website.
[FBX] definitely gives a big boost to the RTB market, and will ensure that RTB becomes a more mainstream channel for online advertisers. Many online advertisers are likely to be interested in experimenting with FBX, which will increase their familiarity with RTB, as well as introducing them to working with one of the approved DSP partners.
Pete Robins, managing partner, Agenda21
This actually makes Facebook interesting again from an advertising point of view. The sheer volume it can offer in terms of people, impressions and usable data makes it a viable place to spend budget. Our early results look promising but that has partly been due to the cheap bid prices achievable given the low level of bidding competition. So I’m keen to see if the performance levels will continue at a larger scale over time – it should really become a major player in the exchange space.
Caspar Schlickum, managing director, EMEA, Xaxis
We now have the ability to leverage a much broader set of clients and start working with inventory in the UK and EMEA. It’s really exciting for two reasons, from our perspective. For the first time we can buy inventory using outside data sources. Previously we were restrained to only using Facebook data, but now we can leverage our clients’ data and first-party data for retargeting, in addition to our own data, which means we can integrate Facebook buys much more deeply into the overall audience buy.
The second really exciting part, which I don’t think has taken centre stage enough, is the fact we are now able to track users across Facebook, so we can now include [Facebook] in a much deeper way in our attribution modelling. We will be able to see if activity that has come from Facebook has contributed to sales and leads as part of a client’s ecommerce strategy, or if a video was viewed more times because someone was on Facebook before or went to Facebook afterwards. It’s about understanding the role Facebook plays in an integrated media plan and this is something we are now able to do.
If you combine those two things, it means Facebook has the opportunity to become a much more deeply integrated part of a Facebook buy, because we have a much better understanding of how Facebook performs as part of that buy and we’re also able to leverage the data into the Facebook environment in a much more compelling way.
Pierre Naggar, managing director, Turn EU
FBX opens up a lot of really interesting opportunities for advertisers to be able to reach the Facebook audience. It enables advertisers to reach these users using a different environment compared to the other exchanges. It means that the RTB and the exchange environment has become a more interesting place to reach users.
We’re already seeing a lot of advertisers showing interest [in FBX] so it is now about ramping it up and getting more on board. The initial results are looking good and that shows that RTB and exchanges are becoming a preferred channel for advertisers to trade. It’s moving away from just remnant inventory to a way for publishers to get more demand.