Branding-Focused ‘Watch Data’ changes Facebook ad targeting

Changes to the way Facebook tracks its users’ behaviour have been announced. The new tool, dubbed ‘brand awareness optimization’, will essentially allow marketers to monitor exactly how long a user spends viewing a particular video or promo, but is different from the current time-spent viewing metric in that it can also detect how quickly they scroll down the news feed, and therefore how long they have spent engaging with the content. Importantly, each engagement is compared against their time spent viewing other ads on the platform, therefore indicating their preferences. Brands can then use this data to group together users with similar interests and use the vast Facebook database to target like-minded individuals. This data can complement page-likes and group membership information, meaning more precise and targeted ads can be delivered. Conversely, if people don’t view or engage with a campaign, they can be eliminated from it.

The announcement is in part a reaction to the current interest in ad viewability, or how many ads are actually seen on a page, as opposed to never reached when scrolling. One study from 2014 suggests 54% of ads aren’t viewable online, clearly a major concern for marketers paying for online advertising. So as the industry moves from a preoccupation with served impressions to pay-per-views, Google also conducted research in November 2014 into ad size and positioning. The findings confirm that content that can hold a user’s attention has the highest viewability. And now marketers can rely on Facebook to ensure targeted audiences are reached and their attention, or recall on a brand, is gained. This will be rolled out from October onwards.

The social networking giant also announced a mobile polling tool which will be used to gather data across Facebook and Instagram. Twitter also announced last week their own native polling tool, meaning brands will be easily able to use this function for consumer interaction.

Commentators seem to agree that these latest announcements mark the coming of age of social networks when dealing with advertising.

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