Facebook Gives Marketers a New Set of Tools
Facebook introduced a slew of new ad initiatives at its marketing conference, fMC, held in New York on Wednesday.
Most had been leaked to industry publications prior to this first-ever event. Timeline for Pages, for example, was expected. Also expected was a mobile ad play -- Facebook had admitted in its S-1 filing that it was lacking in this area.
However, few had been expecting the preview of a distribution channel called the "Reach Generator." Although key details about how it will work were missing from the presentation, it clearly represents a new avenue for marketers.
The Reach Generator
To use it, a brand must have a certain number of fans -- the precise number is still unclear. If a company posts more than a few times a week -- exactly how often hasn't been specified -- Facebook will guarantee that these posts reach 75 percent of the brand's fans each month.
Marketers need more details before they can decide if the tool is worthwhile, Vince Broady, CEO of Thismoment, told the E-Commerce Times.
"For instance, will they do frequency capping? Is this an impression-based system?" he wondered.
Facebook is advising companies that before they invest money in the tool, they make sure that the content they'll be pushing out is engaging and would actually appeal to fans, Broady said.
Premium display ads on the logout page and Sponsored Stories in the News Feed on mobile devices are among the ad initiatives Facebook unveiled.
Sponsored Stories is an ad format Facebook introduced that makes use of content posted by friends or a business's fans. Users can exercise control over who sees Stories, including Sponsored Stories, in the News Feed.
Facebook also debuted Offers, a new service that lets businesses share discounts and promotions directly from a Facebook Page. These can be distributed through the News Feed or promoted as Sponsored Stories. Offers can be redeemed via email or on a mobile device.
All of these offerings are part of a larger trend that Facebook is pushing: the merger of all content, from social, to corporate website to outright ads.
Facebook's goal is to eliminate the distinctions among the various types of content. The only question for companies will be "how many people see the content," Broady said.
"Facebook is leading marketers to take content that is already engaging people with their lives and reusing that," John Nolt, director of product management for Vitrue, told the E-Commerce Times.
That particular strategy is ahead of the curve compared to the rest of the industry, he said. "To the extent that content is king, they are taking advantage of the best content that is available."
Conservative Mobile Stance
In other areas -- particularly mobile -- Facebook has been downright conservative, Nolt observed.
Facebook has had a strong presence in the mobile space -- a significant portion of its users access it via their devices -- but it has been very conservative in monetizing the channel, he said.
That's because Facebook wants to display only relevant ads in this channel and is waiting to make sure it has the content and appropriate data points, suggested Nolt. "A mobile user would much rather see relevant ads on their device than just some random campaign."
Offers Is a No-Brainer
Perhaps the least controversial offering Facebook introduced is Offers.
"It is an incredible opportunity for marketers and consumers to integrate their commerce experiences on the social network," Michael Miller, CMO of Hyper Marketing, told the E-Commerce Times. "We know that interest in social commerce is exploding -- this will certainly further that."
Facebook did not respond to our request to comment for this story.