Once upon a time, Facebook Exchange (or FBX) was considered to be a huge part of Facebook’s future advertising plans. The real time bidding system used cookie based retargeting to show highly relevant ads to its user base. Retargeting users via their actual online behavior allowed Facebook advertising to move beyond ads focusing on demand generation and reach, and become a player in the lower stages of the purchase funnel traditionally dominated by Google.
However, nearly two years later FBX is stagnating due to limitations. The most prominent reason being that FBX ads are constrained to desktop newsfeed & right hand column placements. With Facebook becoming an increasingly mobile platform (and over 25% of it’s users now being mobile only) this significantly limits the effectiveness of FBX. Also the inability to test multiple bidding types, as well as the lack of any overlapping targeting available hinders FBX even further.
The New Kid On The Block
It seems like Facebook has a huge problem on their hands, with one of their most significant ad types floundering. Enter Website Custom Audiences. Website Custom Audiences (or WCA) are another method of retargeting users based on the actions they’ve taken on your website. Where FBX is cookie based, WCA’s leverage the Facebook Remarketing Pixel to create audiences of users to target.
To make use of WCA’s as an advertiser, place the Facebook Remarketing Pixel across your website. You can then create audiences of users to target based on your internal URL structure. A great example would be targeting dropped purchasers by creating an audience of users who have hit your “Add To Cart” URLs, but exclude those who have made it to “Purchase Confirmation” URLs. You could also target users based on specific areas of your website, such as product categories. WCA’s afford advertisers a variety of segmentation options and the ability to target users throughout the purchase funnel.
Why Should I Use WCA’s over FBX?
There are a few distinct advantages to using Website Custom Audiences for remarketing purposes as opposed to FBX, the foremost being:
Target Users Across Devices – The ability to target users across desktop and mobile and utilize all Facebook placements is by far the biggest advantage of WCA’s vs. desktop only FBX.
Layer Targeting – With Website Custom Audiences you can layer any of Facebook’s wide array of additional targeting on top of your Custom Audience. For example you could add in demographic or geographic restrictions, or layer on behavioral or interest targeting to build an even more robust targeting segment.
Leverage Multiple Bid Types – Where FBX only allows advertisers to bid on a cost per thousand impressions (CPM) model, WCA can leverage all of Facebook’s available bid types. This includes Facebook’s primary driver of offsite actions, oCPM bidding. By using oCPM, Facebook will prioritize ad delivery towards users within your defined audience who are most likely to achieve your desired action, which is a huge value-add over traditional CPM bidding.
Use Different Ad Units – Where FBX only let’s advertisers leverage one ad unit, Website Custom Audiences can be used to target users with multiple ad units. This includes Facebook’s recent launch of Multi Product Ads. An example of a combination of this new product with WCA would be targeting users who have viewed the “shoes” category of an E-Commerce site with a Multi Product Post containing your 3 top selling pairs of shoes. You can also layer on gender targeting (show men’s shoes to men and vice versa), which wouldn’t be possible with FBX.
Where FBX is still effective
So if WCA is so great, why use FBX at all? There are still a few scenarios in which FBX provides additional value for advertisers to leverage. The big advantage FBX still has is its ability to serve dynamic creative to users based on their actions. FBX can show users the exact hotel they viewed on a travel site, or a predicted affinity based on buying patterns. WCA on the other hand still requires more manual work on the advertisers end. This is advantageous for large brands with diverse product catalogues that they want to remarket to users in a tailored fashion.
For nearly two years FBX has been the de-facto choice for advertisers interested in remarketing on Facebook. While FBX still provides value in certain circumstances, it’s slowly being superseded by WCA due to numerous restrictions and continual innovation by Facebook in the WCA product.