Facebook fuels new agencies

05 April 2011

NEW YORK: The rise of Facebook has facilitated the growth of various new agencies seeking to exploit advertisers' interest in the social network.

Two years ago, Facebook empowered a hand-picked selection of companies to create tools that would help brand owners manage their expenditure on its pages.

"The ecosystem that these third parties are developing and building on Facebook is healthy and of benefit to everyone," David Fischer, Facebook's vp, advertising and global operations, told the Wall Street Journal.

Among the advantages to the Web 2.0 pioneer of targeting relatively small shops was that they typically displayed considerable flexibility.

"They are able to move fast," said Fischer.

Alongside attracting customers, this approach supplements Facebook's own sales unit, usually only dealing with the largest buyers, and the firm's Self Service advertising platform.

"The infrastructure is still in its infancy," said Rob Griffin, a senior vice president at Havas Digital. "It makes working with them very challenging."

Havas Digital has decided to partner with Blinq Media, founded in 2008 and offering the Ad Manager Tool for Facebook.

Dave Williams, chief executive of Blinq - also claiming Moxie Interactive and 22squared on its roster - stated different methods are required in this space than when using paid search.

"With search, advertisers can match their ads to user intent. With Facebook, advertisers match their ads to user interests," he said. "It's like fishing."

Groupon, the daily deals website, has tapped AdParlour, which delivers over 15bn impressions each month on behalf of brands, and often applies cost-per-acquisitions models to Facebook.

"AdParlor has allowed us to significantly increase our spend on Facebook as a user acquisition channel," said Zac Goldberg, VP of Online Marketing, Groupon.

"Markets that we thought were saturated are being re-discovered through AdParlor's effective and precise advertising on Facebook."

Will Ashton, business development and client services director at Alchemy Social, also approved by Facebook, suggested innovative thinking is essential to demonstrate payback.

"The key thing is that you track your advertising and this is where Facebook has some problems; it has no conversion tracking of its own," he said.

"Facebook's self-serve solution is a one-size-fits-all solution. You should be looking to partner with a solution that can give you insights as to how Facebook advertising really works."

In an indication of the breadth of activity now possible across Facebook's pages, Webtrends has released a tool linking ad campaigns with apps

"As marketers rush to invest in social advertising, particularly on Facebook, they are being challenged with understanding how to structure their campaigns, optimise them and measure success," said Peter Yared, general manager, apps, at Webtrends.

"We are focused on tackling this issue by providing marketers with simple-to-use, highly effective tools to increase customer engagement."

However, Michael Brunick, vp, strategic partnerships at digital network Cadreon, owned by Interpublic Group, warned further obstacles remain in terms of luring big clients to Facebook.

"It wasn't built with large advertisers in mind," he said.

While comparatively small, specialist agencies are one option, the best future approach may be letting major players develop in-house systems tied to Facebook's interface.

"We want to have the relationship with Facebook directly," said Brunick.

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