It would seem that Facebook has started testing a new type of ad unit called ‘Related Adverts.’ At present, advertisers on Facebook can target users based on a range of demographics such as age, gender, education and likes & interests; this ensures their message gets across to the most relevant and potentially engaging audience.
Related adverts differ in that they target users based on the words they use in their status updates and general wall posts immediately after they’ve been posted. Rumours across the net seem to suggest that this is currently being tested to a very small audience at present, with the view to being fully rolled out in the near future. I myself am currently one of those being tested and can provide a couple of screenshots of how these type of adverts look:
Now, I was recently very lucky to go on holiday to Thailand for a couple of weeks. Whilst out there, using Facebook on my netbook and posting a status update mentioning Bangkok and Thailand, the below related adverts suddenly appeared. Being the digital marketing geek that I am, and despite being on holiday, I of course had to take a screenshot so I could look into it a little later on!
As you can see, the two related adverts both contain either Thailand or Bangkok, and instantly become extremely relevant to my status update (which read “Peter Gould is travelling back to Bangkok for one more night of what’s been an amazing Thailand holiday!).
As you can also see from the screenshot above, Facebook has also targeted me with some ‘Related Stories,’ which again take the keywords in my status update and look for similar in my friends. This isn’t so relevant for advertisers though, as it is more aimed at improving the Facebook user experience in general I suspect.
However, having run another Facebook status update test this afternoon, those with Facebook pages also stand to benefit from this potential update.
As you can see, my status update mentions Red Bull (I’m still recovering from jet lag you see!), and again, I have been targeted with Related Adverts (although how these have been targeted to the keywords in my status update is a little less clear). What is interesting however are the Related Pages being displayed. Red Bull’s Facebook page is an obvious match and I’m sure they’d be extremely pleased to see they’re being promoted in this way. I suspect that Starbucks is also being displayed due to the similarities between Red Bull and coffee in terms of waking someone up, and if this is the case, then that is very clever targeting and can only help increase the number of page likes brands can expect to see.
So all in all, as a Facebook advertiser, I’m extremely enthusiastic about this test and would look forward to seeing it fully rolled out. There are a few of points that don’t seem to be too clear at the moment though and are questions I’d love to know the answers to:
- How are related adverts targeted exactly? My first example above would seem to suggest by keywords being matched up between a status update and advert text, but my second example would seem to contradict this as it appears to be more contextually targeted.
- Will advertisers have any say on which keywords in status updates can specifically trigger their adverts (by bidding on them in effect), or does Facebook have an algorithm which takes full control?
- Are ‘Related Pages’ an organic product which will be shown naturally to a user if a relevant page exists regardless of how big or small that page is? Or will brands have to fulfil certain criteria to be shown (such a number of page likes or even pay for exposure)?
I’m sure over time, the answers to these questions will become clear, but if you’re able to answer them for me, please don’t hesitate in dropping me a comment! I’ve also contacted Facebook myself, so should I receive an update, I’ll be sure to post it.
If you’re also part of the test for related adverts and pages, I’d love to hear or see what you’ve encountered so far as well.