You’ve probably seen plenty of products advertised on Facebook, but today the company is announcing a new unit called product ads, with features aimed specifically at helping businesses sell their products.
The big difference is that the ads are dynamically optimized, meaning that the products you see will be tailored based on your activity and interests. Basically, they adapt to show viewers what they want most from a merchant.
Typically, advertisers either have to design specific campaigns for specific products targeted to specific audiences. This is a ton of work and inefficient because it’s essentially trial-and-error. Businesses might not find an accurate match between ad creative, product advertised, and person reached, and getting it right wastes time and money.
Facebook’s dynamic product ads take care of all of this automatically. The social network knows a lot about what you want to buy that merchants don’t thanks to it watching your every move online. Likes, cookies, ad clicks and more teach Facebook your style. Merchants just load up their product catalog, Facebook matches it against potential ad viewers, and conversion rates go up.
(We’ve asked the company for more detail about how this retargeting works and will update if we hear back.)
[Update: A Facebook spokesperson offered a little more context about this, namely that the main use case for the dynamic product ads is retargeting, namely using data collected from the merchant’s website or app to customize the ad. They also said this targeting can happen on any device, whether it’s desktop, smartphone, or tablet, as well as across devices. They also noted that you don’t need to have a catalog to run product ads.]
The ads also include a new format for showing off multiple products, and they can update based on inventory data, removing items once they go out-of-stock. Plus, advertisers will also be able to target ads to people who visited particular pages on their website or app, or to viewers in specific locations or with specific interests.
In a blog post, the company says, “With product ads, businesses can showcase more products and people on Facebook can discover more relevant products.”
Early testers of the product include Target and Shutterfly. Shutterfly says that its clickthrough rates have increased by 20 percent, while Target says that these ads have done particularly well on mobile, where conversion rates are twice as high.