This week at Econsultancy Towers we hosted a few roundtables, one of which was ‘Facebook: Optimising and Measuring the world’s largest social media platform‘.
For those of you that have attended a roundtable before, you’ll be aware that we hand out a trends briefing, which is an up-to-date document on trends, pulled together by the research team before the event.
For those of you that haven’t attended a roundtable before, you’ll know what to receive when you do go.
I wanted to share the trends with you, as Facebook changes so frequently that it’s always good to keep ourselves informed. Some of this information has been written about before on the blog, but I’ve found some new reports and statistics to reiterate the importance of knowing these changes, if you’re using Facebook for your brand.
So, onwards and upwards with the three most important trends that I found.
1. ‘Atlas’ has the potential to change how much we advertise on mobile
The new Facebook Atlas advertising platform will allow advertisers to target specific individuals with much more customised ads, as the technology will track users logged into Facebook as they move around the web.
Rather than remarketing solely based on cookies, the Atlas system will make use of users’ Facebook login status to provide advertisers with detailed demographic information.
The new system, based on the Atlas Advertiser Suite which it acquired from Microsoft last year, is capable of much more granular targeting than was previously possible.
Time spent on mobile is increasing enormously year on year, but for that time, advertisers spend a lower proportion of budget when compared to almost any other platform. The gap between time spent vs. ad spend on mobile is estimated at £1.9bn in the UK alone and many more times that globally.
Looking at data from Econsultancy’s Cross-Channel Marketing Report, produced with Oracle, around 75% of companies surveyed indicated that they have some sort of strategy in place in 2014 for integrating mobile into broader marketing campaigns, an increase of 16% since 2013. This surely indicates growth in mobile spend is continuing.
Facebook wants to help marketers buy more mobile ad space to stop them from losing revenue in this gap. It will identify users with ‘a combination of its Facebook ID, its Facebook SDK for apps and mobile device identifiers such as Apple’s Identifier for Advertising (IDFA) and Android’s Advertising ID.’
Once a Facebook user has clicked, or even seen an ad, Atlas will keep a record of it. So, when marketers look at their conversions you can see the ‘customer journey’ across desktop and mobile.
If a customer sees an Atlas ad on an app, the marketer will know about it. If they then click on their desktop, that can also be linked that back to the mobile ad. And then if the customer converts, all that knowledge can be combined and used to determine whether the ROI works for the business.
Read Ben Davis’s basic guide to Atlas if you’re want more info.
2. Facebook is becoming more ‘pay-to-play’ for brands
In April 2012, Facebook itself released information indicating that organic reach was down to 16% of fans, on average.
Econsultancy’s new report, Facebook Decline in Organic Reach (not yet published) discusses how Facebook is a victim of its own success. Facebook and its community has simply grown, with Pew Research stating that users averaging 338 friends, and people are also ‘liking’ more pages. The rise in posts by individuals and brands, led to a tidal wave of content coming at the user.
Facebook estimates the average user is eligible for around 1,500 pieces of content per day, with heavy users going up to 15,000. Users don’t have the hours in the day to absorb that volume of content.
Meanwhile, Facebook has the unenviable task of playing editor to over a billion people and thousands and thousands of heavily invested brands, and deciding who will see what. That decision involves determining how many of a brand’s posts get seen, if any. And frankly, it isn’t always brand content that most engages people.
According to Adobe’s Q3 Digital Advertising Report, changes from Facebook to limit posts have led marketers to increase paid impression spend. Algorithmic changes have led to a 50% decrease in organic post impressions, with a 5% increase in paid impressions. Marketers should keep an eye on how much organic post impressions have been affected over the past year and look to boost visibility with paid impressions.
As a result, Facebook has to walk a tight line. For without engaged fans, there’s no opportunity for businesses. If businesses won’t invest in the platform then in the end, there’s no Facebook. The newsfeed is their golden goose, and they should try to treat it accordingly.
3. Facebook is still an excellent tool for reaching audiences
Despite the decrease in organic reach of brands, it is hard to ignore the cold hard facts that are available. Facebook has the most active user base of the major social networks. As we reported in ‘Facebook’s death has been greatly exaggerated‘ 95% of Facebook users logged in at least once a week in the second half of 2013.
Mobile App Ads are estimated to have generated more than 145m downloads in 2013, with deep linking allows Facebook advertisers to engage users that have already downloaded an app, to keep engagement up.
Additionally, Facebook showed it can deliver clicks in the summer months, traditionally a time when media formats such as TV find it more difficult to perform for advertisers.
According to Adobe, posts on Facebook have increased across several industries, and post interactions are up for both financial and retail companies. The media and entertainment industry had the biggest increase in the number of Facebook posts, up 100% YOY, and the retail industry had the largest increase in post interactions (comments, likes, shares, and other interactions), up 13% YOY.
A decrease in organic impressions has led to an increase in posts as marketers look to find a balance between paid and organic posts to reach their fans. Retail referred visits from Facebook are down 3% YOY. Facebook refers three times more visits to media sites than Yahoo! Bing.
With all of these statistics in mind, it’s safe to say that even though Facebook is pushing marketers towards paid marketing, organic reach is still possible.