Facebook Data Changes Create Sales Opportunities for Publishers
Facebook has been under serious scrutiny lately as more is revealed about Cambridge Analytica’s use of the social networks’ user information. Cambridge Analytica, a third party data brokerage firm, and Facebook are now the subjects of multiple investigations for the improper use of user data to target political advertising on Facebook. Since the revelation, Facebook has lost stock value, many users are deleting their accounts, Mark Zuckerberg has been in closed door meetings to help determine the networks’ next moves and he will be testifying before Congress. Not to mention he’s taking shade from Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, claiming that Facebook cannot possibly be putting the needs of the consumer first when the consumer is the product they are selling.
As a result of the fallout, Facebook announced it would pull back on its relationships with data brokers. This change could be a huge opportunity for publishers.
What Exactly Did Facebook Do?
Facebook is shutting down its Partner Categories program where brands use third-party data to deliver ads to highly specific groups of people. Partner Categories, which pulled from data aggregation partnerships with companies like Epsilon and Acxiom, allowed advertisers to target customers based on behavior that happened outside Facebook. It’s the reason you can target cat owners in the Bay Area who make more than $100,000 a year.
Where is all that data coming from? Grocery store loyalty cards, warranty purchases, you name it. Individuals’ data is auctioned off to the highest bidder and it is then used to sell products to them. Now, marketers are trained to target their desired audience in this exact fashion.
Will Facebook’s Changes Affect Ad Buyers?
This move may have accelerated publishing companies’ ability to sell hard against Facebook, especially in the brand categories that were relying heavily on this data. A few news outlets have reported that some categories will be more affected than others — such as entertainment companies, retail or consumer packaged goods, and automotive. Small and local businesses are also most likely relying on Facebook advertising to reach their exact target customer.
What’s the Opportunity for Publishers?
Beyond the need to ramp up their first party data collection efforts, sales teams should be jumping for joy at the opportunity to discuss the latest Facebook changes with current and potential clients.
Distrust of Facebook is at an all time high (that article was written before the Cambridge Analytica scandal). Small, medium and large businesses have flocked to social media for its targeting and reach capabilities in the past few years, which is why Facebook and Google own 63% of the digital advertising spend. So what would it mean to your business if suddenly even 5% of that was up for grabs?
So where should you start?
First of all, do you have a list of clients, lost business or prospects that you’ve seen running ads on social media? Start there. Likely they’ve heard about what’s happening with Facebook, but are unsure how it will affect their targeting capabilities and overall advertising strategy.
Secondly, make sure you are well versed on what exactly is happening with Facebook, as it truly is changing everyday. Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean Facebook isn’t a good place to spend your marketing dollars — so don’t go into a meeting ready to trash the social media giant either.
Ask questions. How are they spending their marketing dollars on social media right now? What concerns do they have about Facebook shutting off third-party data targeting? Find out what their concerns are so you can better formulate a pitch.
Next, be ready to tout your own audience and targeting capabilities. One of the draws of Facebook advertising is that business can reach exactly who they want when they want. Share how you can do the same for your niche or market. Brag about the trust you have from your loyal consumer base and first-party data. Hopefully your company has the capability to use your first-party data for off-site ad targeting. Facebook’s elimination of Partner Categories doesn’t prevent you from bringing your own data to their platform and targeting users on behalf of marketers.
Finally, craft a proposal that touches on their concerns, their goals and possibly one that even continues to use Facebook advertising but maybe to a lesser extent. Make sure you have the data to back it up. Encourage a diversification of their marketing spend, especially while the social media space is so volatile.
Salespeople should be setting up meetings with their clients and prospects today to discuss how they are handling the changes Facebook is making with its data. If some smaller businesses haven’t heard about Facebook’s recent announcement about discontinuing its relationship with major data providers, all the better. You can sound like the expert when you tell them.
Use this as an opportunity to improve your consultative relationship with your clients and prospects — likely, they’re confused and struggling with the changes, too. Position yourself as a trusted partner to help guide them. Audience relationships are more important now than ever before. Talk to your clients, show them how you do business. You could be that knight in shining armor they’ve been waiting for.
Editor’s Note: Learn more about How Media Salespeople Should Use Data to Make Sales.
Melissa Chowning is the CEO of Twenty-First Digital, where she guides her clients’ digital strategies and audience development efforts to drive traffic, engagement, and retention. Formerly the Audience Development Director of D Magazine, Portland Monthly and Seattle Met, Melissa understands that the key to audience growth is also monetization. When she’s not immersed in the digital world, you’ll likely find her reading, listening to podcasts, and keeping busy with her two children, both under the age of 6.