Facebook needs more than just clever data to deliver results for brands
A view from Lawrence Weber

Facebook needs more than just clever data to deliver results for brands

P&G's decision to scale back the use of targeting on their Facebook ads has been met with a certain sense of schadenfreude in some quarters of the industry, especially those concerned by the platform's and Google's increasing market dominance in paid-for digital media, writes Karmarama's Lawrence Weber.

Should P&G's decision be seen as evidence that Facebook’s USP of mass reach with precision targeting doesn’t deliver or that advertisers will turn away from it in droves? Probably not.

It isn’t exactly crazy talk that as a CPG company that needs mass awareness for mass products that don’t have a particularly defined purchase journey, P&G has decided that ever more niche and expensive segmentation of audience doesn’t drive ROI.

At the same time as they announced less reliance on targeting on Facebook they affirmed their belief that it gives them unrivalled mass reach, by confirming they will spend less on other publisher sites, who they believe can no longer compete with Facebook in terms of that reach.

P&G has decided that ever more niche and expensive segmentation of audience doesn’t drive ROI.

Moving beyond P&G, there are plenty of brands that will see value in matching Facebook’s data to their own product purchase and user journey and will continue to pay a premium for more targeted consumers who they can nudge along the bottom part of the purchase funnel.

However, P&G won’t be the only client that comes to the conclusion that breadth of awareness is worth more than the depth of targeting. If that’s the case Facebook are going to have to give those brands and their agencies other ways than just clever data of ensuring success and cut through. Step forward old fashioned creativity, with a good dose of technology thrown in.

If for some brands Facebook becomes their first port of call for awareness, then the quality of the work created to achieve it needs to improve.

Here are three things that Facebook can do to help us all to achieve that.

Facebook are going to have to give those brands and their agencies other ways than just clever data of ensuring success and cut through. Step forward old fashioned creativity, with a good dose of technology thrown in.

Firstly, they have to continue the development of products like Facebook Canvas and Carousel and the continued but careful opening up of Instagram as an advertising channel – all of which will provide much richer, much more broadcast like spaces for creativity to flourish.

Secondly, at the same time as the formats develop, it’s also crucial that Facebook continues to support and cajole creative agencies and clients to make the best of these new creative opportunities. New formats and techniques need to be explained and celebrated and that is partly the responsibility of the platform.

Lastly, Facebook needs to encourage brands to help bring consumers to the new technology worlds they are building. Facebook Live, Messenger and indeed VR through Oculus all need mass audiences and brands can bring those audiences by creating and sponsoring compelling experiences and useful services.

Facebook is going nowhere as a place for brands to target consumers, but big and clever as data is you need something else if you want to truly engage them.

Lawrence Weber is the managing partner, innovation at Karmarama.