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With the New Year come and gone, we look back on 2013 as a momentous year for Facebook, and online marketers. Here at adMixt, we focus on performance marketing for e-commerce companies, so throughout 2013, these were the features powering our growth:

1. January: Conversion Measurement

It wasn’t until January that Facebook publically released Offsite Conversion Pixels, allowing advertisers to report on conversion events occurring on their websites, directly within Facebook. Prior to this, advertisers had to string together 3rd-party services like Google Analytics to measure their ad performance. But with conversion measurement, marketers gained direct insight in post-impression and post-click conversions and revenue.

2. March: Lookalike Audiences

Introduced in 2012, Custom Audiences gave marketers a way to reach their owned audiences on Facebook. After uploading their customer email list to Facebook, they could target users across the platform. In 2013, Facebook extended this feature dramatically, applying a proprietary “similarity algorithm” to find users sharing similar qualities with the advertiser’s existing customer base.  We don’t know exactly how Facebook makes these audiences, but through numerous tests, we know that Lookalike Audiences are an important tool in prospecting for new customers. 

3. March: Unpublished Posts in News Feed

It’s hard to remember a time when advertisements didn’t appear in Facebook’s News Feed. But it wasn’t until March of 2013 that we started seeing Unpublished Page Posts. Prior to that, ads had to be public on brands’ Timelines before they could appear in the News Feed. But with the introduction of Unpublished Page Posts, marketers gained the ability to test an unlimited number of page post ads, and target each to a different audience.

4. April: Partner Categories

While they are often overlooked, Partner Categories are powerful tools in Facebook targeting. Provided by 3rd-party data aggregation services, Partner Categories let advertisers target their ads to predefined audiences known to have purchased a variety of diverse goods and services. Combined with Facebook’s native social targeting data, Partner Categories help marketers find the people who matter to them. For a complete list of the current Partner Categories, visit adMixt.

5. September: Ads Simplification

Over several months in 2013, Facebook worked to simplify their ad offerings. Amongst the many changes made, in September they released a Page Post Link Ad with a unified look and feel across mobile and desktop newsfeed. This new ad unit offered a larger image component than any ad unit for linking to an external website, giving marketers an ideal option for sending traffic to an e-commerce site.

6. October: New Ad Report Stats

Also in September, Facebook gave us access to a new reporting interface and dataset offering enhanced visibility into ad performance. Aside from being worlds faster than the old interface, the new dataset lets marketers slice their data by age and gender, and measure ad performance at a more granular level. Prior to this release, to observe ad performance differences between genders or age groups, marketers needed to create separate targets and allocate budgets to each. These new report insights let advertisers keep their budgets unified, and still measure and optimize performance toward the best gender and age groups.

The December Bonus: Website Custom Audiences

While not released publically, Facebook has announced a new product we’re eagerly awaiting in 2014. Facebook’s newest retargeting product lets advertisers collect data from users on their websites in real time, and then target them with customized ads. Currently the only way to retarget users on Facebook is to work with a 3rd-party Facebook Exchange (FBX) company. But Website Custom Audiences promises to bring this functionality into the native Facebook platform. And as an added bonus, word is that these audiences can feed into Lookalike Audiences, dramatically reducing the overhead of Facebook’s successful lookalike modeling product.

What else will 2014 bring? Looking at what was accomplished in 2013, the possibilities seem endless. Will we finally see Facebook ads syndicated on an external publisher network? Could Mobile App Engagement Ads lead a revolution in mobile e-commerce? Will the Facebook Phone ever surface (no)? Tune in next year, same time, same channel to find out.

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Zach Greenberger
Zach Greenberger is the Founder and CEO of AdMixt, a Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer focused on performance marketing.