Facebook’s Partner Categories: What Social Marketers Need to Know

Earlier this week, Facebook launched yet another advertising update: Introducing Facebook’s Partner Categories.  Here’s a quick update on what it is and why marketers should care:


1. So, what is this new-fangled “partner categories” feature?

Previously, advertisers could target only by user-provided information to Facebook. Now, with the release of Partner Categories, advertisers may target users based on their offline activity. For example, imagine you’re creating ads for your brand’s new salad dressing.  Instead of just targeting ‘people who Like Hidden Valley Ranch’, advertisers can now dive into user data like ‘People who spend 3 times or more than the national average’ on salad dressing. Check out the full description of this example category in the screenshot below:



2. Where does Facebook get this information?’

Facebook teamed up with third-party data partners Datalogix, Acxiom, and Epsilon to deliver over 500 new targeting options and categories. Previously, this type of information was only available to brands working directly with similar third party data providers.

Now you’re probably wondering: ‘This sounds like a marketers dream, but what about the users?’ Rest assured, marketers will not be privy to individual user information.  As Facebook dutifully highlights in its Partner Categories announcement, ‘No personal information is shared between Facebook, third parties or advertisers.’ Advertisers will only be able to gauge the size of a particular category and cannot access individuals’ information.


3. What does this mean for my brand?

For the first time ever, brands using Facebook’s native ads platform will be able to leverage offline behavior to influence online social activity. As AdWeek points out, Facebook’s inclusion of this data on its native platform levels the playing field for small to medium advertisers. While more advertisers bidding on highly targeted ads could result in pricier ad rates, overall ROI will likely improve with the increased ability to reach ‘the right person, at the right time.’

Not to mention, recent Facebook ad updates have even wooed GM back on board. In case you missed it, General Motors ruffled a few feathers last year when they publicly denounced the effectiveness of the ads platform. As of last week, they’re back in the game with the ‘Find New Roads’ mobile campaign.

So, what do you think? Will your brand give new partner categories a try?