When search engine marketing (SEM) was in its early years, the direct response advertisers who dove in saw an unprecedented combination of great ROI, scale, and immediate conversions. In a market with little competition, global reach and stellar conversion rates, all you needed to succeed then was some basic search knowledge and an Overture or AdWords account.

As the SEM industry developed, keyword lists and campaign complexity grew, and so did the need for enterprise SEM solutions. SEM-by-hand turned into Excel spreadsheets, then to web-ified versions, and ultimately to full SEM management platforms that addressed both administrative and ROI optimization requirements. Along the way, many SEM vendors disappeared, while a few hardy platforms emerged whose algorithms and management features gave real, sustainable competitive advantage to the advertisers that used them. Importantly, the winners and the losers of that platform battle were hard to distinguish from each other until SEM became Google’s toll road and a brutal auction that punished all but the very best.


The Facebook Exchange (FBX), the first of what will become a wave of native advertising platforms, now lets advertisers retarget a strong majority of site visitors quickly, within trusted content streams and with scale and ROI hard to find elsewhere. Yet once again, this channel’s vendors might all look similar, but win-or-lose-all differences lurk just below the surface.

With that in mind, Triggit conducted a study reviewing hundreds of Facebook retargeting ads served by the top eight FBX vendors over a one-month period. Below is a summary of our findings:

-Ads with dynamic creative are shown anywhere from 0% to 73% of the time, despite the fact that dynamic ads yield 3-5X higher CTR
-FBX vendors’ ability to serve ads quickly and while purchase intent is still high varies to the extreme – 28% of the time at worst, and as high as 86% at best

To serve dynamic ads consistently over time, vendors must dedicate significant resources to build out reliable feed-based retargeting technology and offer managed-services to integrate and execute. At the same time, the technology must offer flexibility to test varying degrees of recency – the time between a user browsing a site and being served an ad.

The large spread in our findings indicates that most first-time FBX advertisers are primarily serving static ads, either as the result of their vendors’ technology limitations, or because their chosen platform has no people to assist them in operating it successfully.  While static ads are faster to launch and easier to maintain, and dynamic technology is, by comparison, resource-intensive, our studies have shown that dynamic ads drive 5x higher CTR at 50% lower CPA’s than static ads.
As we move further into the 2013 holiday season and then into 2014 – which we project will be The Year Of Native Advertising – competition continues to rise. Advertisers must be aware of the percent of dynamic ads served and the percent of ads served quickly, while intent is still high. These two metrics have already proven crucial to FBX campaign success, and will continue to do so as the channel grows and matures.

Please view the full study here: http://bit.ly/I1H4g5

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Alison Morris
-Alison Morris is the Director of Marketing at Triggit, the Facebook Retargeting company. Alison has several years of online, direct-response marketing experience in both the agency and technology fields. Alison holds an MBA from University of San Francisco.