facebook exchangeIn the spirit of continuing the “Search Marketer’s Guide to…” series, I’d like to take the same point of view in looking at Facebook Exchange (FBX). But before doing so, let’s just call out exactly what we mean by a search marketer’s point of view:


Search Marketer’s POV = Performance Marketing (aka Maximizing Revenue/ROI)


Yes, it’s a broad generalization, but I believe it to be a fairly accurate one. In almost every case that I’ve heard someone say, “Facebook ads just don’t perform for us…” I can almost guarantee their career tree branched out from search marketing at some point. And that’s not meant to denigrate having a search/performance-based marketing background. It’s a truly grounded and focused background; moreover, I personally come from that background, so I know exactly how challenging it can be to change perspective to another channel.


So enough of the preamble; this is my humble attempt at a search/performance marketer’s guide to FBX.


To start, let’s acknowledge a new challenge with jumping into the word of FBX. That is, if Facebook Ads Marketplace functionality presents a challenging new set of variables, most of which come from the merger of search-style biddable media and display, then FBX brings even more from the world of display.  If you aren’t familiar with acronyms like DSP, RTB, or DMP – get ready! I’ll try my best to walk you through them over this new series. But first, let’s start with the most important way to view the FBX offering:


Facebook Exchange is a new ad product, highly complementary to Premium and Marketplace. It’s all about leveraging display-style Customer Intent and Remarketing data into the Facebook Ads environment in a real-time bidding (RTB) exchange.


What does that mean? It means that you can use first- and third-party cookie data to target the Facebook audience that is tagged by you as a previous visitor/customer, or identified as a member of a high-value audience per the data of a third-party data management platform (DMP).


Also, sorry. For those new to this world, I just dropped like 3-4 new terms on you (RTB, first-party vs. third-party data, DMP, etc.). See? This is why it can be even more confusing to those uninitiated in the world of display.


So I’m going to hold off on a lot of that for now and focus on two things for the remainder of this article: 1) discuss the actual ad functionality and placement of ads; 2) focus primarily on how this is used for Remarketing-only functionality.


FBX Ad Functionality


First thing to learn about FBX ad capabilities is that the platform really only supports Ad Type 1, aka Standard Ads, aka “Old-school tiny display ads that go directly to my site instead of doing all that new Sponsored Story/Action Spec/Social Context/Likes in the ad sort of stuff” (that last one is still how my mind thinks about this ad type).  And for the visual learner, here’s what it looks like:


facebook exchange ad


Further, ad functionality includes the following:


– Title Text up to 25 characters

– Body Text up to 90 characters

– URL up to 1024 characters

– Image 100 pixels wide by 72 pixels tall (larger images will be resized, so ensure that they hold the same aspect ration at 1:0.72)

– NOTE 1: Animated or flash ads are not supported.

– NOTE 2: Please go back and read my post on creative best practices for these ad types. And for those of you who don’t: PLEASE DO NOT USE SEARCH AD TEXT IN YOUR FACEBOOK AD! (Can you tell that’s one of my pet peeves?)


One more thing to remember: view-through pixel usage (if your brand is approved for it) is also supported by FBX ad types.


FBX Ad Placement


As for placements, FBX is also very similar to Facebook Ad Type 1, in that it only pulls from the Marketplace ad placement inventory that shows on the right-hand side of non-Home Page inventory spots. This means it’s not going to compete with Premium inventory (which is reserved for Home Page and News Feed placements), nor is it currently showing in mobile placements.


FBX marketplace

Marketplace ads are restricted to the right side of the page…they’re sometimes lost in the shuffle of cute puppies.


It still surprises me how many Facebook Advertisers don’t know the differences between Premium and Marketplace, so please be certain to re-read that last part if you aren’t sure. It will only help you set proper expectations moving forward.


FBX for Remarketing


For my money, this is the most exciting part of FBX. It is also some of the most ROI-performance-driven inventory available on Facebook today. Why? Well, if you have a strong first-party cookie data set, and have the technology to match those cookies to the FBX system, this means you can target visitors to your site on with ads on Facebook. This is the beginning of something truly exciting on Facebook.


Standard Remarketing vs. Smart Remarketing on FBX…and beyond


More than that, you can see even more powerful results if you have a technology that moves beyond standard remarketing tags to Smart Remarketing Tags. (Did I just imply that “standard” tags are dumb by comparison?)


Admittedly this is shameless-plug territory, but it’s also a big reason I decided to join the team at IgnitionOne.


So what is “Smart Remarketing”? Basically, it’s when you start to not only measure whether someone visited your site in retargeting them via various RTB exchanges like FBX, but it also allows you to start scoring purchase intent based on behavior on the site.


So if I have Visitor A, who has visited the site once and bounced, and Visitor B, who visited several times and actually looked at some very specific items several times, then I can score Visitor B as more likely to purchase. Not only that, but I can deliver a dynamic ad based on what Visitor B was looking at, AND I can add his/her purchase intent score into my bidding decision in order to bid more aggressively for him/her in an RTB scenario.


Speaking of RTB scenarios, and the inner workings of DSPs and exchanges, that’s something we’ll get into on the next post. We’ll also touch on the different types of advertising teams utilizing FBX (they’re often different from current Marketplace teams), and the tools like DMPs that they use to augment their RTB bidding decisions with third-party data.


Ready for part 2 of the Search Marketer’s Guide to FBX? Here we go.


– Chris Knoch, IgnitionOne

1 Comment

  1. Prachi Mishra November 8th, 2012

    Here at Triggit, we also see confusion in the market about the difference between traditional Facebook ads and FBX. We’ve actually launched a series of roadshows with other industry experts, advertisers and FBX partners to educate people on why the Facebook Exchange is what retargeting was meant to be: the ability to your ads at scale on the #1 website in the world where your potential customers hang out all day long, and seeing conversions at 1/3 – 1/7 the price of other exchanges. If anyone’s at SES Chicago, sign up for free event to continue learning about this massive opportunity! http://triggit-fbx-roadshow-chicago.eventbrite.com/

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Chris Knoch
Chris Knoch is Vice President of Strategic Solutions for the IgnitionOne platform. Chris joined in 2012 with the mission of using his deep knowledge set of online marketing to evangelize Ignition One's comprehensive Search, Social, Display/DSP, Attribution, and Landing Page Optimization solutions. Chris has enjoyed over 12 years in the interactive space with leadership roles at companies such as 360i, Cingular Wireless, SearchIgnite, Omniture, and Adobe.