7 Steps for Success on the Facebook Exchange
By Ari Buchalter
Real-time bidding (RTB), demand-side platforms (DSPs), and programmatic buying have revolutionized the way we buy, measure, and even think about advertising. DSPs now access over 50 billion premium and remnant display, video, and mobile ads a day to target audiences with the right ad to serve at the right price, in real-time. Agencies and trading desks using these robust and flexible platforms are driving unprecedented results and scale with a level of control, transparency, insight, and workflow efficiency that simply never existed before.
Up until now, there has been an important participant conspicuously absent from this RTB revolution: Facebook. Fortunately, the recently launched Facebook Exchange (FBX) changes that, making Facebook ads available for industry standard real-time bidding.
Facebook accounts for more than 25 percent of U.S. ad impressions and nearly 15 percent of all time spent online. While Facebook has long been innovating to help advertisers take advantage of its massive audience, FBX makes them a leading driver of automated buying as well, with the ability to plan, execute, optimize, and measure brand and direct-response campaigns alike. The results have been phenomenal for performance advertisers, with average CPA improvements of 40%, in some cases reaching as high as 700%.
Yet some agencies and advertisers may still be intimidated, or unable to access FBX, finding that their buying platforms are slow to respond, or incapable of consolidating planning, execution, management, optimization, reporting, and analysis of multiple media into a single platform.
Achieving success on FBX isn’t hard, but it requires a few important ingredients that can make the difference between good and great results:
• Make sure your DSP can absorb the scale. Nearly 1 billion users and 25 percent of U.S. ad impressions is a lot of potential impressions, more than some DSPs can handle. FBX only gives buyers the chance to bid on matched users, so scale depends directly on a DSP’s queries per second (QPS) and ability to match users. Find out how many daily FBX impressions your DSP sees, and ask for the real-time data to prove it. There are big differences in the scale that different DSPs can absorb, and that means big differences in FBX volumes. â€¨
• Select a DSP with seamless workflow across data, media, and creative. Consider the components of a Facebook campaign: audience selection and targeting, creative generation and upload, campaign setup and management, and back-end reporting and analytics. A DSP should have an easy workflow that seamlessly integrates these and mirrors buying on other media sources – and offer it all in a true self-service environment giving control to the user. DSPs that don’t offer FBX on a self-service basis aren’t giving their users the chance to innovate and fully exploit the power of FBX.
• Ensure effective ad server integration. FBX enables impression tracking and conversion reporting by both the DSP and most major ad servers. For many large advertisers, ad server integration is critical to connect the impact and performance of FBX to the rest of the media plan. Make sure that integration works cleanly. FBX discrepancies shouldn’t deviate from the ranges typically seen for other sources (i.e., a few percent). If they do, there’s a clear issue.â€¨
• Start with retargeting. Re-engaging existing customers or site visitors is a great advertising tactic and FBX makes this possible on Facebook for the first time. Sheer scale and high user match rates are critical to make retargeting work on FBX. But it’s equally critical for a DSP to provide the tools and best practices to maximize retargeting effectiveness by optimizing variables like recency, frequency, and bid price for different retargeting audiences. If your DSP doesn’t have the scale to see every possible retargeting impression, and the tools to make the most of it once you see it, then you’re leaving ROI on the table. â€¨
• Grow the pie with prospecting. Like Search, retargeting works well but only applies to the relatively small group of consumers exhibiting intent to buy. To truly move the needle, marketers must bring new customers into the conversation and grow the total pie through prospecting. Without a clear signal of intent, effective prospecting on the “open exchange” hinges on the ability to algorithmically separate the 0.01 percent of wheat from the 99.99 percent of chaff. Effective prospecting isn’t only about serving the right ads to the right users at the right times, but at the right price to hit a CPA or ROI goal. Retargeting is relatively easy; effective prospecting (on FBX and everywhere else) tends to be what separates DSPs more than anything else, so be sure to evaluate your DSP partner based on prospecting performance as well.
• Measure the results. One of the most powerful aspects of digital media is the ability to express marketing results in the precise metrics that matter most to a given advertiser. Make sure the DSP you choose can measure and optimize to what your buyer cares about. That may include lift in brand awareness, increased site traffic, CPA, revenue per order, ROI, or even offline transactions. Moreover, ensure your DSP can quantify FBX’s impact with other channels, both online and offline.
• Pick a proven team you trust. FBX will undoubtedly evolve to expand the possibilities open to marketers. Make sure that your DSP has a knowledgeable and responsive team dedicated to your business. The best companies provide ongoing training and expert guidance, and are willing to go the extra mile to innovate new-to-market solutions specific to every client’s needs.
Facebook’s entry into the RTB revolution helps buyers realize the full potential of programmatic buying across the media landscape. Perhaps the most significant aspect of FBX is that it opens the door to a complete view of the customer journey across paid, owned, and earned media. In turn, that view empowers buyers to globally manage how a brand reaches its audiences anywhere, in any context.
The best DSPs deliver on that promise by letting buyers create integrated and relevant marketing strategies from upper-funnel brand awareness to lower-funnel ROI that span all digital touchpoints: display, video, mobile, and (finally) social. Make sure you’re working with a DSP that fits all your needs.