Much of the excitement surrounding action-spec targeting of Facebook ads has been focused on the fact that advertisers are now able to target recent user actions, rather than just passive likes and interests. While I support that thesis, I’d like to discuss another facet of action-spec targeting that eventually may be even more powerful. Before Timeline Apps, an advertiser could only target friends of people who had “liked” the advertiser’s fan page or “used” its app. Now, for the first time, an advertiser can target the friends of an individual taking an action on Facebook, without having to be an administrator of an app or fan page.
I know some of you are thinking, “What’s the big deal about that?” The importance is directly tied to the sizable number of Facebook users who, through apathy, privacy concerns, or inexperience with technology, keep their profiles extremely sparse. These non-sharing users have historically been very difficult to connect with, as age, gender, and location were all advertisers had to go on. This will no longer hold true!
By identifying the types of activities around which people develop social circles, an advertiser will be able to show increasingly relevant ads to non-sharers. While a user’s dining preferences may not be greatly reflected in his or her group of friends, many interests will be. If Shannon is a law student who plays lacrosse and loves rock climbing, she will have Facebook-friend networks filled with future attorneys, other lacrosse players and climbing enthusiasts. She might express those preferences through interacting with Timeline Apps: renting law textbooks on Chegg, buying a new lacrosse stick on LAX World, or adding new climbing gear on GiantNerd. Many of her friends, however, won’t make any of these interests public on their Facebook profiles.
If an advertiser’s goal is to sell Bar Exam study materials, promote Major League Lacrosse games, or drive awareness of a new type of climbing shoe, they’d be well served to target Shannon’s friends. In this way, they’ll reach a previously undiscoverable audience with products likely to pique their interest.
As more and more Timeline Apps gain traction and user adoption on the Facebook platform, more opportunities for this type of social-circle targeting will exist. Any advertiser will be able to reach the “friends” of users who display a preference through a timeline app, without being an administrator of an app or fan page, and even if those friends are non-sharers. This is only one example of how the ever-changing Facebook ads landscape opens up new opportunities for advertisers to gain ROI all the time. Don’t be left behind!
– Jon Oberlander, Ampush