How Custom Audiences’ latest offerings can change the Facebook ad landscape

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Though Facebook’s ad revenue continues to grow, a recent development could make the social network’s ad model even more enticing to retailers. Last month, Facebook added some capabilities to its Custom Audiences product, allowing marketers to target users who had taken certain actions on their website, such as adding an item to a their cart, but not converting.

Among beta testers of this technology, JackThreads saw an 8x return on ad spend. Custom Audiences has another major fan in Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer Marin Software. The company recently published a white paper, explaining how Custom Audiences can help businesses convert customers via smart Facebook advertising. Marin Software Senior Marketing Manager Dan Morris talked with Inside Facebook about how this can change the game for advertisers.

One of the best ways that a business can create ads that actually lead to sales on their website is through retargeting. With programs such as Facebook Exchange, a company can push Facebook ads based on a user’s browsing history away from the social network. To see this in action, go to a travel site such as and look at a few hotel rooms. Soon, you should start seeing ads asking you to come back and convert on that certain hotel room, or to check out other hotels in that city.

Now, Custom Audiences can take the retargeting one step deeper. Say a user made a $50 purchase, or bought a certain type of product. Now, Facebook advertisers can see this and match up the purchaser with their Facebook ID. Then, the company can target ads for products they’ve purchased in the past or for products within a certain price point. Brands can now targets ads for users who have recently purchased, or for those who haven’t made a purchase in a while.

While Facebook Exchange (FBX) hasn’t taken off quite yet, Morris feels that this could give a huge boost to Custom Audiences, through the use of cross-device retargeting:

One of the most exciting things from our perspective, is the idea of cross-device retargeting. I think that’s one of the most fascinating things that Facebook has with this product launch. The concept of being able to target me, Dan Morris, coming to your website on desktop, going all the way to the checkout stage, not converting, then being able to target me, the exact same person, with a very targeted message on my mobile device, that’s kind of been a dream in the digital marketing world.

Morris sees this technology really being effective with the ability to retarget users based on location. For instance, if you’ve liked Macy’s or recently made a purchase on Macy’s website, and you happen to be close to a Macy’s brick-and-mortar store, marketers can push a specific ad to your mobile device, enticing you to claim it at the store.

He feels that Custom Audiences from Your Website can be a very nice complement to FBX, the social network’s previous retargeting platform:

FBX certainly has its advantages and disadvantages relative to this. The way I see it is it won’t necessarily detract from FBX, but what it will do is help support the notion that Facebook retargeting is effective. FBX isn’t going to be a fit for everyone, but what this will do, is I think this will be a very nice complement to FBX. It will only help expand retargeting in general for Facebook.

Marin’s white paper does offer a bit of a caveat for marketers using Custom Audiences from Your Website, though:

However, despite the clear benefits Custom Audiences from Your Website presents to digital marketers keep in mind that Facebook’s new remarketing solution may indirectly lead to added management complexities in the future. Ironically, the simplification of retargeting will create opportunities for increased targeting sophistication, which will likely introduce audience management complexities and could create issues with scale. To fully take advantage of the long list of retargeting use cases, Facebook advertisers will need to create new campaigns for each Custom Audience target. And for Facebook advertisers who believe in micro-segmenting their audiences into specific clusters, the volume of campaigns could quickly expand as they continue to see ROI.

Readers: Have you started utilizing Custom Audiences from Your Website? What has been your experience?

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