Facebook Is Adding More Advertising Objectives for Brands That Use Messenger

T-Mobile and American Eagle are pleased with their bots

Facebook has been slowly rolling out advertising opportunities for Messenger. Messenger
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Facebook is rolling out specific advertising objectives for brands using Messenger, offering ways to target users based on goals like increasing brand awareness, lead generation and store visits.

Nearly a year after introducing targeted ads for brands that want to promote branded chatbots, the social network is letting some marketers test a series of goals for a conversational campaign. With nearly a dozen objectives—examples include increasing reach, engagement, traffic and video views—the company is hoping to get large and smaller advertisers onboard that want to reach the more 1 billion people on the Messenger platform.

Facebook announced the news today during an Advertising Week discussion in New York about how brands are using messaging to reach users in ways other than display and video.

Speaking with Facebook vp of messaging David Marcus, executives from T-Mobile and American Eagle said their customers are highly engaged when interacting with them on Messenger. T-Mobile has been able to increase retargeting by three times over email and user acquisition sevenfold.

According to Nick Drake, T-Mobile’s evp of marketing and experience, customers have been happy using a chatbot when shopping for a new phone. He said it’s making the normally boring path to purchase of upgrading a phone a little more engaging, whether that’s via watching a video of someone unboxing a new iPhone or using a savings calculator to see if it’s worth switching over from another company.

“We’re having to rethink how we produce advertising for brand new mediums,” Drake said.

American Eagle is even seeing higher engagement among men, a demographic that’s not always associated with shopping for fun. According to Kristen D’Arcy, head of performance digital marketing at American Eagle, 60 percent of users engaging with the brand’s chatbot are males. She said it’s been especially useful for reaching the “tough target” of those between the ages of 25 and 35.

D’Arcy said the chatbot is focused less on driving immediate transactions than on building interest so they can re-engage customers during prime shopping seasons.

“We’ve almost looked at it as filling the funnel,” she said.

One of the ways T-Mobile is looking to make its chatbot strategy better is by figuring out how to make it a smoother transition for users from seeing an ad for a chatbot to interacting with it for the first time. Because they’re still fairly new—Facebook only introduced chatbots last year during its F8 developer conference—it can be jarring for people who don’t know if they’re talking to an actual human.

Drake said “setting the stage” by explaining if a bot will be transactional or experiential could be the key.

“The Click to Messenger was literally landing people in Messenger,” he said. “And then they were like ‘Whoa, what’s happening here?’”

@martyswant martin.swant@adweek.com Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.