NEWS31 August 2012

Facebook unveils data-matching tool for advertisers

North America Technology

US — Facebook is working on new advertising technology that will allow businesses to upload their customer lists and compare data with the social media site’s encrypted user database.

The tool aims to improve measurements for advertising on the site and comes as Brad Smallwood, Facebook’s head of measurement and insights, confirmed to Ad Age that his ultimate goal is for the market to embrace a metric that looks at the unique reach and frequency of a campaign across all “experiences” — including traditional media such as TV, radio, print and outdoor, as well as online media, social media (owned, earned and paid), mobile and in-game ads.

Under the deal, all data will be uploaded in an encrypted manner and only certain datasets such as e-mail addresses can be matched to help companies target their customers on the social networking site more easily. The company will then be able to target the customer in a bespoke manner with Facebook ads tailored to what they know about the user.

The move comes amid increasing pressure on Facebook to prove its worth following its $104bn IPO in May. Expectations for Facebook’s revenue in 2012 have been lowered by $1bn by Emarketer, following the social network’s disappointing performance in the first half of the year.

“Major marketers are still questioning the effectiveness of advertising on Facebook, and they are concerned that their ability to measure results is underdeveloped,” says Emarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson. “Facebook is working on addressing these concerns, but it must move even more quickly.”

However, talking to Ad Age, Smallwood said these questions are still some years away from coming into fruition: “When will media agencies and advertisers demand success on those measures? I think that’s three to five years away,” he said.

Wolfram|Alpha recently became the latest company to let anyone do personal analytics with Facebook data in order for users to better understand how such advertising initiatives could impact them.