Marketers have long understood the important of Facebook as an advertising tool, and the social network has never shied away from making money of those same marketers.
Facebook’s powers that be are quick to point out that the community of 900 million –and growing!– offers exciting advertising opportunities, and the way they scan user’s habits and interests makes it increasingly easier for marketers to advertise to exactly the right niche.
It’s no surprise that Facebook recently announced a new, real-time ad bidding service that the company is calling Facebook Exchange. It falls right in line with the company’s efforts up to this point.
Facebook Exchange is currently in beta testing, according to representatives from the social network. It’s expected to go live in a few weeks. At this time, users who visit websites that are working with Facebook Exchange will automatically download a special cookie to their browser. Upon returning to Facebook, the user will see ads based on real-time targeting from advertisers who want to convince the user to return to the website, or go to a similar website, based on the user’s Internet history.
All of this works by assigning Facebook users identification codes that allow them to remain anonymous. Thus, Facebook Exchange won’t invade privacy any more than traditional ads on the social network and Facebook won’t combine this data with existing user information.
Furthermore, users will be able to opt out of these ads. With Exchange, Facebook will show the user a link back to the original page, where she will be able opt out of future Facebook Exchange ads from that source.
Advertisers do have some concerns with this new format, however. Facebook will sell ads based on impressions, by the thousands, and not clicks. Ultimately, advertisers will have to pay more for a smaller guarantee of sales or other conversions. Still, Facebook is hoping that the advantages of the system will attract buyers, anyway.
For example, advertisers could use Facebook Exchange to server time-sensitive ads. When the users sees that the store she just visited is offering a sale until midnight, she may be more likely to make that purchase. Similarly, the adds truly target relevant consumers. Offsite tracking creates a relevant to Facebook ads that was previously unattainable, simply because so much consumer activity occurred outside of the social network.
Facebook Exchange is just the next step toward more effective social media advertising.