How Facebook is Evolving into a Direct-Response Vehicle


As Facebook looks for ways to monetize their platform, they may also have found a way to strike a balance between the user experience and advertisers’ needs. In the past, Facebook was seen as a branding vehicle by most advertisers. It was incredibly hard to use Facebook as a direct-response vehicle since the targeting features were extremely general. Advertisers would have to buy lots of impressions and hope that they were reaching the correct audience.

This changed in September when Facebook increased their targeting capabilities by developing the “custom audiences” feature. This free feature allows advertisers to upload their user information (e-mail address and phone number) from their database into Facebook and target potential prospects. This is a great way for advertisers to further pre-qualify their audiences and show them relevant ads, encouraging them to purchase. In addition to reaching a more qualified audience, advertisers like advanced targeting because it eliminates wasted impressions.  Advertisers are now paying for the exact people they want to reach. When the target audience information is uploaded, Facebook then hashes the information and matches it against active users. Hashing provides the ability to summarize the text into what Facebook considers a “short fingerprint” that can’t be decrypted.

In order to maximize campaign budgets, advertisers have to think about how they want to segment and develop specific creative messaging for each audience. Prior to implementing Facebook’s custom audiences feature, a strategy needs to be developed on which audiences the advertiser wants to reach, why they want to reach them, and how they want the user to engage with the brand. Each segment needs to be spoken to differently and creative messaging needs to be customized for each segment in order to see the maximum results in performance.

Some examples of how this new feature can be used may include:

  • Reminding customers if they have left items in their shopping cart.
  • Advertising to the friends of current customers.
  • Showing corresponding products/services to recent purchases.
  • Users that haven’t converted additional advertising or opportunities to learn more.
  • Enticing current users to sign up for additional services, or newsletters.
  • Offering exclusive offers for Facebook members.
  • Increasing Facebook “likes.”

Measuring campaign success should be based on the audience segment and campaign goals. By understanding the value of the actions being taken, or the importance of the targeted audience, it will help determine if the creative messaging is working. If results are not up to forecasts, it provides the opportunity to tweak the creative in order to see better results. Custom audiences can also be used to see which types of offers resonate with different audience segments for future display campaigns.

Incorporating Facebook’s custom audiences into current campaigns allows advertisers to segment current customers and target them on Facebook, while providing additional ways of communication with a target audience regarding products and services. Providing relevant ads to the appropriate targeted audiences allows for direct-response marketers to be able to market directly to people that are likely to convert (some may consider these audiences the “low-hanging fruit”). For the user, the targeted campaigns provide relevant and unobtrusive ads. This essentially leads to a more qualified audience that will take the desired actions and help turn Facebook advertising efforts into more of a direct-response vehicle.


  1. Thank you for this insight into Facebook. It does seem like social channels are becoming more popular with Direct Response marketing methods since they make it easy to communicate with potential customers.


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