Earlier this week, Facebook announced that it will be extending its retargeting product, Facebook Exchange (FBX), into the News Feed, which expands the placement of these targeted ads beyond the network’s right-hand panel. Although this update is currently an “alpha test,” its upcoming release points towards a future with more powerful options and greater flexibility for advertisers. As said by our CEO, Rob Leathern, in a recent Forbes article, “It’s another step on the road to allowing advertisers to use their own data to target ads.”

FBX is known as one of the best-performing units available in digital media because of its ability to reach users who have demonstrated interest through their browsing behavior. By targeting users in a timely manner, FBX promotes engagement and sales very effectively, and it has been utilized in a variety of scenarios: retargeting abandoned prospects, increasing new customer acquisition, and promoting brand awareness.

retargeting on fbx

Facebook Exchange enables marketers to re-engage interested users on Facebook.

The News Feed also represents a valuable piece of digital real estate, driving the strongest performing ads over any other location in Facebook. Likewise, Facebook also recently announced plans to revamp the News Feed with less clutter and “bright, beautiful stories”— another sign of the growing importance for this destination within the platform.

updated facebook newsfeed

The new Facebook News Feed will bring bigger pictures and more compelling stories to users (image from Facebook).

By marrying two of its most engaging offerings into a single product, Facebook has created an entirely new advertising option that combines high-performing features in one location. Now marketers have a second (or third) chance to make an impression on a potential customer—ultimately another shot at winning their business. Ads can be built to have the last word – to highlight benefits, address concerns, or simply become more memorable to customers.

Keep an Eye on the Maturing Landscape

The News Feed continues to be a meaningful destination for content; with appropriate timing and precise delivery, brands can effectively connect to their target audiences and drive engagement. As the Facebook News Feed begins to evolve as a meeting place for owned, earned, and paid media, the relationship among the three takes greater emphasis. Marketers must adjust in response to this evolution and take a more holistic approach towards allocating time and resources to these elements.

Also, retargeting remains one of the most valuable forms of targeting users because it incorporates the concepts of “recency” and interest, which is sometimes tougher to attain through other forms of targeting. It will be exciting to see if any other forms of inventory open up for FBX down the road, and how this affects overall FBX adoption rate.

Get Set Up with FBX

For users less familiar with FBX, setting up and buying FBX inventory is a very easy process. Working with an Ads API partner that has access to FBX (Optimal is one example of a provider), users only need to implement FBX pixels first to develop their retargeting pool and then buy FBX ads through the platform.  One word of caution: marketers should not underestimate the time needed to develop their retargeting pool.  Your targetable audience depends on the size of your retargeting pool. Depending on your site’s traffic volume, it may take time for your pool size to grow.

Therefore, to prepare yourself or your brand for FBX in the News Feed, we highly recommend the following in terms of pixel placement:

1)      Start Early!

Even if you are unsure whether FBX will be a part of your campaign strategy, we would recommend implementing your segment pool first. Otherwise, you may need to wait for the segment size to develop before gaining any real traction with FBX.

2)      Consider where your site traffic is located

SEO, social, and paid media are all responsible for driving users to your site. Think about where the users are going and place your FBX pixel there to develop your segment pool. Often, the larger your segment pool size becomes, the greater your opportunity to reach more people.

3)      Segment your opportunities

Users who visit your product page may be more valuable than users who only check out your homepage. Consider setting up different pixels to create different FBX campaigns and deliver more personalized messages. If your site offers a significant number of products and offers, you may want to consider utilizing FBX dynamic creative optimization as well.

To learn more about the power of FBX, check out Optimal’s recent webinar, which features insight from leading experts in the industry.


  1. Sophia April 2nd, 2013

    I run Diamonds, Pearls and Jade page besides my own.
    The hardest thing is that most of my customers are not on FB.
    Those who are on FB complain that there are no rules or guidance. I agree with that.
    Those who are are out of the market after they got married.
    The direct mail and radio gives us better results, however, I hear that some people have a FB store.
    How do you choose 35-45 affluent customers using FB?
    Thank you.

  2. Dan April 2nd, 2013

    Hi Sophia,

    Great question! You are right, it’s tough to market on FB if your customers are not on FB. I have a few suggestions to some of the points you bring up, and perhaps a few solutions that might help you reach that specific segment:

    1) Using FBX alone would be tough (to attain scale and reach) — typically, i would recommend it as a supplementary tactic to your existing campaigns. To address your question regarding your assumption that a lot of your customers are not on FB: that may be the case, due to the browsing habits of different age segments — but, if you think about it, in the next few years, younger customers who are on Facebook, will eventually be the target age range and your products. You will want to be ready when those people are visiting your site + Facebook page. Additionally, facebook adoption rate for your current target age group may continue to grow, and it would be good to be ready to reach these people as well. These are a couple reasons some retailers we work with, implement an FBX pixel to see if their opportunity on Facebook will grow or not. The risk is low, since the advertising cost will be limited to the audience size — but the upside is high b/c these are the most recently engaged users who have visited your site.

    The limitation FBX does face at the moment, is that it cannot layer additional demographic targeting onto it (such as specifying the age range you mentioned). That might be a feature FB builds down the road — the newsfeed expansion I mention is one example in which Facebook is considering ways to improve their overall set of capabilities.

    2) In terms of privacy, Facebook is very strict on what information is shared / or not. One thing you could do to give your customers a better experience and make your advertising less intrusive is to adjust the frequency capping of your ads, so that your advertisement doesn’t appear too much to the same person.

    3) Aside from FBX, if you are looking to reach that specific segment of users, Facebook has another product called Custom Audiences. Custom Audiences lets you utilize a list of emails, phone numbers (of people you want to reach) to create a form of targeting within their system. Again, all the information is secure, since all the data is hashed before being matched in FB’s system. With Custom Audiences, you can directly reach your customers if they are on Facebook. ALSO, you can create lookalike audiences to reach new users on Facebook who are very similar to your customer base. This could be an interesting approach for you to find new customers in a more targeted fashion. What’s good about Custom Audiences, is that you CAN layer on other forms of demographic targeting to reach the specific segment you mentioned. Hope this helps!

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Daniel Ho
is the Senior Director of Marketing for Optimal Inc. Prior to joining Optimal, Daniel worked for Initiative Media as a digital account director. Daniel holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Princeton University and a MBA from UCLA Anderson. In his spare time, he trains Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and makes beer.