How Facebook Just Became Critical for B2B

Facebook is suddenly a critical channel for business-to-business marketers and could ultimately be even more important and scalable than LinkedIn. If you are a B2B marketer and you either haven’t tried Facebook, or haven’t had any success there, it’s time to try again.

Facebook’s recent announcement of the Facebook Exchange to a handful of beta partners would make Facebook inventory available to exchange and real-time bidding for the first time. In turn, it will open the door to advertising targeted to both the advertiser’s own data and other third-party data outside of the Facebook ecosystem.

This is important, and not only because nearly 33 percent of the impressions of the Web are on Facebook inventory. While this is going to be a significant increase in scale for consumer campaigns, a potentially more meaningful shift is in B2B. For the first time, B2B marketers will be able to use Facebook to effectively drive high-quality leads and conversions from the business audience. This also comes as a warning shot across the bow of LinkedIn’s marketing business, as the company doesn’t offer this capability today — and they don’t have the impression volumes to compete at scale.

Early results of FBX beta testing have revealed scalable ROI that is as good as, if not better than, most display ad impressions — in some cases driving 300 percent better cost-per-leads than traditional display.

One year ago, Facebook didn’t work as a B2B marketing channel because there was no way to effectively target business professionals on the platform. However, now that we can couple B2B audience data with first-party retargeting data to target client ads on Facebook, the conversion rates are on par with other forms of display media. Additionally, many inventory sources and publishers are able to drive outsized results from an ROI perspective, but they are unable to scale within certain audiences.  Because of its massive user base and engagement, Facebook doesn’t have this problem. It provides scale that rivals the very largest inventory pools on the web even within business audience segments.

Because of the huge scale, impressions on FBX can be purchased at a rate that is 66 percent to 80 percent less than an equivalent high-quality display impression. Thus, if the response and conversion rates are equivalent to other forms of display media, you can expect to see three to five times greater ROI from the FBX campaigns because impressions are so much less expensive.

Although the ad units are simple (an image/logo along with a few lines of text), they stand out on the page and look like content in the Facebook experience. Combined with effective audience targeting, this quality improves the performance of the ads. It’s also worth mentioning that another benefit for B2B marketers is brand safety. The quality of inventory on the display ad exchanges varies greatly, and marketers who don’t employ sophisticated brand safety controls may see their ads render in places they want to avoid. On Facebook, marketers are dealing with a consistently brand-safe environment that is far less complex to navigate.

Finally, Facebook ads have historically been very difficult to measure because they have not exposed conversion tracking and other audience measurement capabilities to marketers buying ads on the site. With the launch of FBX, much of the tracking can be handled by the bidder/ad server, which allows for conversion tracking and real-time optimization of the ads.

The keys to driving B2B success with FBX are data that targets the right B2B audiences and optimize the targeting approach during the course of the campaign to drive ROI; messaging that speaks directly to the target business audience and highlights a clear value prop and call-to-action; and site and social retargeting to increase in-market conversions.

After seeing these early results, we now believe that Facebook will ultimately become one of the most important media channels for B2B marketers and there are outsized returns to be found there today.

Russ Glass is CEO of Bizo, a business marketing platform.

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