Facebook is no doubt the social network of changes. With the recent changes in the timeline layout, the acquisition of Instagram, and new data available for business page analytics, it can sometimes be hard to keep track of it all.
Start-up companies oftentimes have to take a look back on a change before they react and reflect, and for many, the Facebook custom audiences are no different.
If this was one Facebook update that you’ve let slide under the radar or put on the back burner until you’re ready to dive into social, now is the perfect time to make it happen.
The Past: What are Facebook Custom Audiences?
Custom audiences were introduced in September of last year as a way for companies to search for their offline audiences online (through Facebook). By simply using things like email addresses and phone numbers, custom audiences helps businesses search for their current clients or customers. This is beneficial for a few reasons:
- Help create connections online, which should help jump-start social sharing.
- Help determine trends among the offline audience/current customers.
- Help find other connections by using your current connections as referrals.
- Reach people with more relevant messages.
- Increase efficiency of campaigns and therefore reduce cost.
Custom audiences is of course subject to privacy protections, but uploading a database of current customers is an easy way to find these connections. Something called “Lookalike Audiences” was also introduced last year as a way to allow marketers to reach people on Facebook who are likely to be interested in your business.
You can create a lookalike audience to target people much like those that are a part of your custom audiences database. You can learn more about both custom and lookalike audiences and how to get started on the Facebook Help page.
The Present: Facebook Grows Custom Audiences to Use Segmentation Data
In February of this year, Facebook announced that they would be using data from third party vendors in order to improve the targeting and segmentation of custom audiences. A few of the vendors include Datalogix, Epsilon, Acxiom, and BlueKai.
Using this information will allow advertisers to target market segments using the information provide by these lends. This helps bring in email marketing campaigns, for example, into Facebook’s hands.
The Future: What the Facebook Custom Audiences Has Changed for Business
Overall, custom audiences have received positive feedback from users and allowed businesses to provide more targeted, relevant ads to all different types of audiences.
According to Marketing Land, Facebook released the study of a Chicago car dealership saying that they “saw a 24x return on their ad spend combining Facebook offers with custom audiences to their existing target customers.”
There was also another case study of a Hong Kong-based game developer who saw more than 40% decrease in cost-per-installs by using custom audiences. Needless to say, this is one Facebook change that has proven affective.
So where will the future take Facebook custom audiences?
It’s tough to say for sure, but it doesn’t look like the custom audiences or using third party data is going anywhere anytime soon. Although it’s important to constantly keep privacy in mind, I suspect more and more companies will get involved in the future (both as users or even as third party vendors).
What is your opinion on custom audiences? Did Facebook make the right choice by using third party audience segmentation data? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
(Photo Credit: techandscience.com)
Very interesting Amanda. I had no idea about custom audiences. I still think the best “bang for the buck” when it bringing in leads via paid ads will be Adwords whether it be Paid search, content or display, but it would at least be worth doing some testing.
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