How Facebook Ads Are Helping These 2 Retailers Reach New Audiences

The platform helps boost sales

Facebook ads are definitely one way to boost retail sales. American Eagle, Wayfair, Facebook
Headshot of Ann-Marie Alcántara

It’s no secret that Facebook is a great way for retailers to target and reach audiences.

In a blog post published today, Facebook details just how well holiday campaign ads worked for retailers.

Overall, Facebook saw a share of mobile (versus desktop) conversions increase from 43 percent in 2016 to 64 percent on Cyber Monday in 2017.

From Facebook’s perspective, the success is due to, well, Facebook and all of its ad offerings, like dynamic and collection ads. But, according to two of the companies Facebook highlighted as an example of its advertising might—American Eagle Outfitters and Wayfair—the social giant’s ad offering is just one piece of the marketers’ effective holiday run.

Wayfair, for example, used dynamic ads and attributed its 53 percent year-over-year growth in sales during Thanksgiving weekend partially to Facebook. However, the retailer takes more credit for its sales and doesn’t let Facebook have all the glory. Bob Sherwin, vice president of marketing at Wayfair, said that isn’t all driven by marketing.

“We have a strong customer base that’s loyal and we know how to speak them,” Sherwin said.

The company also worked with Pinterest, Google, and media publishers and other ad units to get its message across to different audiences. While the company loves working with Facebook, it isn’t afraid to constantly experiment and move away from anything that’s not a viable strategy anymore.

“We take a portfolio approach and we want to be out there constantly testing,” Sherwin said. “When one ad unit that was successful for us, stops working as well, [we don’t want to be] too tied into that ad unit or publisher, [and] that it’s not a big deal if we have to move away from it and reallocate that spend where it’s driving the best value for our customers.”

Sherwin added that Wayfair feels great about Facebook’s ad products, and these different formats are a good way to show how it’s always experimenting with different ways of messaging to its audience, no matter the platform.

Kristen D’Arcy, vice president of performance and digital marketing at AEO, said it used dynamic ads to reach consumers and saw a “four times increase on the effectiveness of the ad spend using broad audiences on Facebook” after changing its targeting. According to D’Arcy, Cyber Monday was the best online sales day ever for AEO and attributed some of that success to Facebook.

For the retailer, it’s not necessarily about the type of ad it used that was so effective; it was the ability to target certain audiences and reach a much larger group of young people on the platform than on TV. Of course, the type of ad AEO chose to lead with, and the creative behind it, also contributed heavily to driving sales.

For example, the ad in 2016 showed off AEO’s gift guide Messenger bot.

Though AEO used a number of different digital advertising streams, including partnering with Google and Snapchat, the company knows Facebook worked.

Facebook also touted Gap in its holiday ad strategy case study, reporting that the company reached “40 million people in the month leading up to Black Friday.”

Gap declined to comment further but said in a statement to Facebook, “By partnering and working closely with the Facebook team, Gap was able to bring our campaign to life in new ways and meaningfully reach our target audience during the biggest shopping season of the year.”

While Facebook largely focused on ad campaigns during the holidays, the company hopes retailers use any findings to replicate similar ads to other holidays.

“Marketers should, however, think beyond seasonal shopping moments and about how they can leverage Facebook and Instagram to drive online and in-store sales year-round,” said Nada Stirratt, vice president of global marketing solutions, North America at Facebook.

And of course, Facebook would love it if people pivoted toward more video.

“Specifically, video is top of mind in many of the conversations we’re having with advertisers, and there’s a lot of creative opportunity to define what short-form video is on mobile,” Stirratt said. “Smart marketers will capitalize on this opportunity and start to think about video as a powerful merchandising tool, and not just a branding tool.”

The lesson here: Ads are great for retailers and can drive more sales—Facebook is just one means to that end.


@itstheannmarie annmarie.alcantara@adweek.com Ann-Marie Alcántara is a tech reporter for Adweek, focusing on direct-to-consumer brands and ecommerce.
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