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Does FBX produce different time-of-day conversion patterns?

Published: March 25, 2013

Author: Molly Shotwell

Today’s post is by Beth Logan, PhD, Director of Optimization at DataXu.
Despite recent reports that users sometimes “take a break” from Facebook, the site is phenomenally popular. It is a highly engaging place where many users spend a disproportionately large amount of time, both viewing and creating content. Therefore, when we started running campaigns on Facebook Exchange (FBX), we were keen to investigate whether conversions followed new time-of-day patterns there.
A Triggit post last year mentions that users convert “all day” on Facebook vs. post-work hours for other platforms, based on an analysis of click-through conversions. Our analysis, using the more popular view-through conversion model, shows that the patterns are not so different after all. We did find, though, that proportionally more early-morning (post-midnight) impressions led to conversions on FBX.

The study

We studied four campaigns running on both FBX and other exchanges. Two campaigns were in the financial vertical and two were retail campaigns. We pulled a week’s worth of data and looked at the local time that users saw impressions on FBX and other exchanges, and whether those impressions led to view-through conversions. We normalized the action through rate (ATR) and fitted a smoothed curve to the plots, which appear below.

conversion pattern FBX
Normalized ATR vs. Hour of day the impression was shown for 4 campaigns running on both FBX and other exchanges

From the graphs, we can see that three of the four campaigns, both financial campaigns and the retail 1 campaign, have very similar conversion patterns for FBX and the other exchanges. The only major apparent difference is a higher tendency for early-morning impressions on FBX to lead to a conversion.
The Retail2 campaign also over-indexes for early-morning (and late-night) impressions on FBX leading to a conversion, but much more markedly so. Additionally, for this campaign, proportionally fewer impressions seen in daytime hours on FBX led to conversions vs. other exchanges. This may be because the product advertised appeals to students, who are heavy users of Facebook and who may keep irregular hours.


From these few examples, it seems that the conversion behavior of users may depend more on the product than the exchange. The only clear trend here is that late-night/early-morning impressions have a higher chance of success on FBX compared with other exchanges.
Though we are still in the early days of FBX and it would be unwise to draw too many conclusions at this point, these findings do seem to support a non-channel-centric approach, indicating that advertisers are better off optimizing to each specific channel. As more advertisers take advantage of FBX, a clearer pattern will emerge of how users engage with advertising on this fascinating site.
beth logan data– Beth Logan holds a PhD in Speech Recognition from the University of Cambridge, UK. She has worked in many fields including speech, music indexing, computational biology, medical informatics, and activity monitoring, and has over 30 publications and 11 issued patents. Since joining DataXu in 2009 she has turned her talents to online advertising, relishing the vast amounts of data available and the many interesting problems to be solved.

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