Facebook Introduces Topic Data

Information is power, and Facebook continues to empower its advertisers with deeper and deeper data with Tuesday’s announcement of the rollout of topic data.

TopicDataInformation is power, and Facebook continues to empower its advertisers with deeper and deeper data with Tuesday’s announcement of the rollout of topic data.

Topic data allows marketers on the social network to drill down into data of what users are saying about events, brands, subjects and activities, completely anonymized, and Facebook said it teamed up with social data provider DataSift on the initiative.

Facebook said topic data will initially be available only to “a limited number” of DataSift partners in the U.S. and U.K., with the data limited to those two countries, as well, adding:

Our plan is to iterate on topic data thoughtfully and deliberately, and look to expand its availability at a later date.

Facebook said in an email to SocialTimes that topic data works as follows: DataSift accesses the social network’s pipeline of anonymous and aggregate information and organizes that data for its partners, which them build technology to analyze that data and convert it into “meaningful insights,” which they can use to inform processes such as marketing decisions and product development.

Topic data was introduced as follows in a Facebook for Business post Tuesday:

Marketers want to understand what people think about topics related to their business so they can make their products and marketing more relevant to their customers. In the past, they’ve looked at the things people share online to get an idea of what people care about, but until now, the information available offered a limited view. To make marketing content more relevant for people and more effective for marketers, we’re introducing topic data to select Facebook partners.

Topic data shows marketers what audiences are saying on Facebook about events, brands, subjects and activities, all in a way that keeps personal information private. Marketers use the information from topic data to make better decisions about how they market on Facebook and other channels, and build product roadmaps.

While this type of data has been available from third parties before, the sample size was often too small to be significant, and determining demographics was nearly impossible. With topic data, we’ve grouped data and stripped personal information from Facebook activity (not including Messenger) to offer insights on all of the activity around a topic. That means marketers get a holistic and actionable view of their audience for the first time.

It’s important to note that topic data provides guidance for marketers but it cannot be used to target ads directly.

The social network also addressed potential privacy concerns:

Like other insights information on Facebook, all of the information used for topic data is anonymized and aggregated. We are not disclosing personally identifying information to anyone, including our partners and marketers. And the results delivered to marketers are analyses and interpretations of the information, not actual topic data.

Finally, Facebook offered the following examples of how topic data can be used:

  • A business selling a hair de-frizzing product can see demographics on the people talking about humidity’s effects on their hair to better understand their target audience.
  • A fashion retailer can see the clothing items its target audience is talking about to decide which products to stock.
  • A brand can see how people are talking about their brand or industry to measure brand sentiment.

WPP Data Alliance CEO Nick Nyhan said in the Facebook for Business post:

When marketers have a deeper understanding of people and what they are interested in, they can create more relevant experiences for their audiences. We focus on providing WPP’s clients with insights into what people say and think about their brands and products. By looking at topic data, we empower brands to make smarter marketing decisions. And we’ve worked with DataSift for some time — the way it cleverly collects and organizes data continues to make it simple for WPP to ingest, connect and leverage it across the agency network.

Readers: What are your initial impressions of topic data from Facebook?

david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.