Q&A with Facebook Advertising Research Manager Rob Creekmore

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Recently at the Kenshoo K8 Summit in Sausalito, Calif. (just north of San Francisco), Facebook’s Advertising Research Manager of Marketing Science, Rob Creekmore, talked to attendees about the ways brands are using intent-driven search data in concert with Facebook’s advertising offerings.

Creekmore cited studies during his presentation, such as the finding in a June Kenshoo study that there was a 19 percent lift in paid search conversions when partnered with Facebook ad spend. Another study noted that partnering Facebook ads with paid search media leads to a 30 percent higher return on ad spend. There’s a growing harmony between search and Facebook, and Creekmore took the time to talk about this evolving relationship with Inside Facebook.

Inside Facebook: What are some of the most exciting ways search and Facebook are coming together?

Rob Creekmore: I think we’ve seen some of it in the research we’ve presented today. It’s an opportunity to understand consumer behavior on a deeper level and how consumers are crossing channels and crossing devices seamlessly. The research that we’ve done to date has focused on the cross-channel aspect, particularly on how Facebook makes search work harder. Kenshoo has more recently come out with an amazing product that uses search intent data — the IDA (Intent-Driven Audiences) product — to make Facebook work harder. So I think there’s more opportunity to do more research there.

Then finally, we’re really seeing consumer behavior shift in a way that hasn’t happened before. Mobile is taking off, not just from a Facebook ads perspective, but really from a consumer perspective. People are spending more time than ever before on their mobile devices and on Facebook on mobile. We want to understand that better. We also want to understand how can we make advertisers more effective, and ultimately to make the consumer experience better.

IF: What are some ways that search helps Facebook serve more relevant ads?

RC: This goes into highlighting the search signals that people have and are giving us. Talking about the IDA product that Facebook and Kenshoo have created jointly, which basically allows you to create a custom audience around the search signal. If someone has searched for shoes, then they are part of this larger custom audience, in a privacy-safe, anonymous way, that lets marketers who tagged that search keyword of shoes retarget them on Facebook with shoe-related content, or maybe purses that match the shoes.

That gives marketers a really strong signal to go with, but what we’re also seeing is that marketers can also do lookalikes — leveraging the social graph data that Facebook has and that people have chosen to share about themselves. Then you can say, now we can see 10 more people that look just like the smaller audience that searched for shoes and build on that for a broader audience. It really opens up a whole new opportunity for reaching new customers.

IF: What are some emerging trends you’re seeing with the partnership of search and social? What do you think we’ll be talking about next year?

RC: I think going back to the cross-device idea, the consumer journey spans devices. It’s important — you need the sense of identity across those devices to tie it all together os that you can target, measure and deliver holistically. That’s how we think about it. I think you’ll see that the research that we continue to do is going to try to help marketers address that topic. It is kind of a hairy topic right now. There’s a lot of ad tech solutions out there today that don’t address that, because they’re cookie-based. Cookies break down across devices.

Readers: How do you integrate search data into your Facebook ads?