Brands seeking ROI metrics for Facebook

17 August 2012

NEW YORK: Brand owners such as Unilever, Ford and Coca-Cola are still attempting to fully prove the payback from using Facebook, but remain confident in the potential it provides to engage consumers.

Recent research by Facebook covering 63 ad campaigns found a majority yielded three times the original expenditure, whereas only a single case delivered a return below one times the initial outlay.

A campaign run on behalf of Suave, the beauty range manufactured by fast-moving consumer goods group Unilever, generated $8.41 for every dollar spent, according to these figures.

Keith Weed, chief marketing and communications officer at Unilever, told the Wall Street Journal this return on investment (ROI) was "impressive", but warned Facebook's "journey" had just begun.

"As a businessman and marketer, ultimately, you care about ROI," he added. "At the end of the day, you will get the early adopters of the large companies who can see [Facebook] as a big trend but you won't get sustained businesses without people understanding how ROI is concerned."

Facebook has formed a Client Council seeking to work with advertisers on this issue. Coca-Cola, the soft drinks giant, and Diageo, the spirits specialist, are among the firms joining Unilever in taking part.

"I don't think anyone cracks it. The best thing you can do is create a methodology," said Carolyn Everson, Facebook's vice president, global marketing solutions.

Walmart is also a member of the Client Council. Stephen Quinn, the retailer's chief marketing officer, revealed Facebook ads were "one of the major growth areas in Walmart's marketing efforts".

Ford, the automaker, has publicly supported the power of Facebook ads, the effectiveness of which has been questioned by players like its rival General Motors and Dannon, the dairy conglomerate.

However, Thomais Zaremba, digital marketing manager at Ford, argued the social network could help brands by releasing more data. "We couldn't determine who was seeing our ads and what actions they were taking from seeing the ads," she said.

Elsewhere, Coca-Cola has accrued almost 48m "likes" on Facebook. Joe Tripodi, the firm's chief marketing and commercial officer, believes it may be two years before the value of fans is established.

"I think it's probably a leading indicator of potential sales," he added at an event earlier this year. ""If we can't precisely measure it down to the [cost factor], or using traditional methods of measurement, then at this point, so be it. Sometimes you have to take a little leap of faith."

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff