Facebook Expands Custom Audiences With Datalogix, Epsilon, Acxiom, BlueKai

By David Cohen 

A report last week that Facebook was testing a new type of targeted advertising, along with several third-party partners, which would allow brands to market to users based on items they have previously expressed interest in while surfing the Web was confirmed Wednesday with the social network’s announcement on its Facebook Studio blog of the expansion of its custom audiences offering with data-centric partners Datalogix, Epsilon, Acxiom, and BlueKai.

Facebook said it will be business as usual for brands that already work with any of those partners, as they can now use the same information they have used elsewhere in the digital sector to create Facebook campaigns. As for brands that do not currently work with Datalogix, Epsilon, Acxiom, or BlueKai, the social network said:

We will work with these select third parties to create predefined targeting categories on Facebook. Businesses of all sizes will now be able to target categories like “soda drinkers” or “auto-intenders.”

Facebook also emphasized that its practice of not sharing its users’ personal information with marketers or third parties, already in place for custom audiences, will extend to this new offering.

The social network offered more details on its custom audiences expansion in the Facebook Studio post:

For example, an auto dealer may want to customize an offer to people who are looking to buy a new car. To do this today, many businesses work with third parties to better understand how to identity and reach that audience. With today’s updates, businesses can now do this same thing by showing ads to people on Facebook who may be in the market for a new car.

Castle Auto Group, a car dealership in Chicago, saw a 24x return on its ad spend combining Facebook offers with custom audiences to its existing target customers.

Kingnet, a Hong Kong-based game developer, saw a more than 40 percent decrease in cost-per-installs of its action role-playing game by using custom audiences.

We believe the extension of custom audiences to include select third parties will further improve marketers’ ability to reach the right customers on Facebook and will lead to more relevant ads. We will be rolling out these enhancements over the coming weeks, starting with marketers in the U.S.

In order to further reassure users that their personal data would not be comprised, Facebook said in a note on its Facebook and Privacy page:

As with our existing targeting tools, the process is designed so that no personal information is exchanged between Facebook and marketers (or the third parties those marketers work with). These select third-party partners use hashes of customer or potential customer information to create audience groups on Facebook. (For more on this type of targeting and hashing, see here). When advertisers reach these groups of people with ads, they’ll get back the same anonymous and aggregate ad reporting marketers on Facebook currently receive. As with other Facebook advertising, we don’t share private information about individuals with marketers as a part of this process.

At Facebook, we work hard to be transparent about how our advertising works and to give you control over the ads you see. As with other Facebook ads, you can ask Facebook to hide a select ad or ads from a specific advertiser by providing feedback though the drop-down menu in the upper-right-hand corner of the ad. In addition, you can choose to remove yourself from these select third-party partners’ targeting through the “about this ad” link or from the help center.

We recognize that people place a lot of trust in us to protect the information they share on Facebook. We think carefully about how we can best honor the commitments we’ve made around privacy by giving people control over their information, being transparent about how we use that information, and being accountable to our users and regulators.

Readers: Do you think Facebook users will be more likely to interact with advertising that is more relevant to their interests?

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