Facebook’s retargeted ads broadened to include rivals’ site, Page audiences

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Almost two years after Facebook rolled out a way for advertisers to retarget people checking out products on their sites, the social network is adding the ability to extend that retargeting to people checking out products on other brands’ sites and apps, as well as their Facebook followers.

Facebook’s Dynamic Ads can now be used to retarget people who check out a product on any site or app that lets Facebook track its audience, as well as people who like a relevant Facebook Page or interact with a relevant ad on Facebook.

The change broadens Facebook’s Dynamic Ad format beyond basic retargeting. Whereas before, an ad simply promoted a pair of shoes to people who had looked at the item on an advertiser’s site, now the advertiser could promote a pair of shoes to people who had looked at some high-tops on other shoe retailers’ sites or liked a Facebook Page dedicated to sneaker culture.

As a result, the ads can now get a brand in front of potential new customers, rather than echoing out to people who already may be customers. But that also means the ads offer a new way for brands to poach rivals’ customers.

Brands can already use different ad-targeting options on Facebook to get in front of people who may be a competitor’s customer. But Dynamic Ads gives them a more direct way to turn that competitor’s customer into their own. Instead of promoting a brand to someone who may have an affinity for another brand or share characteristics with another brand’s customer base, now a marketer can promote a specific product to someone who may have been at some point in the purchase cycle of becoming another brand’s customer.

But it’s not quite the same as a car salesman approaching someone driving off from a rival dealership’s lot but who has yet to sign a lease. An advertiser can’t directly target people who had browsed a competitor’s site or opened its app. Instead that behavior will be used by Facebook’s ad-serving algorithm as another signal when deciding who should see an ad. Someone who visited a product page on a brand’s own site will be just as likely, if not more likely, to see the ad as someone who viewed a similar product on a competitor’s site, and someone checking out a product on someone else’s site may not be a strong enough signal for Facebook to put a brand’s ad in front of that person.

If brands don’t want their rivals to have the opportunity to advertise to people who browsed a brand’s own site or app, they can opt out of it, but only if they opt out of using Facebook’s Dynamic Ads themselves by removing Facebook’s tracking pixel from the brand’s own site and disabling Facebook’s ability to record app events in their mobile app.

And if brands prefer the old way of simply retargeting people who visited a brand’s own site or app with their Dynamic Ads, that will remain an option for brands buying ads through Facebook’s Power Editor ad-buying tool or through third-party ad-buying tools that use Facebook’s Ads API.

About The Author

Tim Peterson, Third Door Media’s Social Media Reporter, has been covering the digital marketing industry since 2011. He has reported for Advertising Age, Adweek and Direct Marketing News. A born-and-raised Angeleno who graduated from New York University, he currently lives in Los Angeles. He has broken stories on Snapchat’s ad plans, Hulu founding CEO Jason Kilar’s attempt to take on YouTube and the assemblage of Amazon’s ad-tech stack; analyzed YouTube’s programming strategy, Facebook’s ad-tech ambitions and ad blocking’s rise; and documented digital video’s biggest annual event VidCon, BuzzFeed’s branded video production process and Snapchat Discover’s ad load six months after launch. He has also developed tools to monitor brands’ early adoption of live-streaming apps, compare Yahoo’s and Google’s search designs and examine the NFL’s YouTube and Facebook video strategies.


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