When Facebook Exchange (FBX) debuted in 2012, it garnered significant excitement among advertisers. For the first time, the real-time bidding platform allowed advertisers to buy and serve retargeted impressions on Facebook. For example, when a user clicks on a product on a retailer’s website but doesn’t purchase, FBX can display an ad for that product on the user’s social network page.
Retargeting company AdRoll partnered with FBX early on and has since brought over 700 advertisers worldwide onto the platform. At the end of 2012, the firm examined the performance of its advertisers running both online display and FBX retargeting campaigns.
AdRoll found that Facebook is taking a substantial percentage of retargeted impressions, suggesting that brands are increasingly moving their retargeting campaigns onto the social site. In December 2012, Facebook accounted for nearly two-thirds of AdRoll’s advertisers’ retargeted impressions, that’s compared with August, after FBX’s initial debut, when the platform accounted for only 3% of impressions.
Facebook has a significant hand in overall online display inventory, accounting for more than 25% of display impressions across the web, according to AdRoll. So it makes sense that when Facebook inserts itself into the retargeting mix, a significant percentage of impressions follow.
The share of retargeted clicks going to Facebook has increased along a similar trajectory to impressions, though the pace has not quite kept up. As of December, Facebook garnered 45% of total retargeted clicks. Other online display retargeting campaigns received the remaining 55% of clicks, despite accounting for only 37% of impressions.
Clickthrough rates (CTRs) may help account for this disparity. The CTR for FBX ads was 40% lower than for traditional web retargeting ads. And the price per unique click did even better on the web, costing 80% less than on Facebook.
There’s still plenty of upside for Facebook retargeting advertisers, however. Cost per impression (CPM) and cost per click (CPC) were both significantly lower on Facebook, proving that the social site does offer some substantial monetary benefits, along with wide reach.
For the time being, FBX remains a limited proposition among marketers. According to an Advertising Age and Citigroup survey from January 2013, only 12.8% of US marketers reported using the platform. Still, there is no question that the newness of the service is part of what is holding back advertisers.
The study also found that more than three of out five respondents bought ads of some kind on Facebook. As marketers get a better understanding of the uses and metrics behind FBX, they will surely buy a greater percentage of Facebook ad inventory through the service.
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