Why the Facebook Exchange ends the viewability debate

This latest data insight was unveiled at last Thursday’s SF Roadshow. To be the first to hear fresh new insights, sign up now for the next roadshow at 11/14 in Chicago at SES!

By Christina Park

Advertisers have been spending a lot of time and money trying to adopt the “viewable impression” standard, i.e. only paying for ads that are actually seen, not just served. It’s becoming more and more important for advertisers to capture a person’s attention as effectively as possible as users bounce from site to site at high velocity in an increasingly fragmented web. The performance for above-the-fold-only ads make this argument even more compelling: CTRs rose 3x higher than the industry average according to NBC Universal, and research showed that action rates decreased rapidly as ads plunged lower on a page.

When the Facebook Exchange launched in mid-September, it was a rare outpost of the internet that exhibited the perfect combination of performance, viewable impressions, and engagement for online advertisers. FBX was delivering on average 4x higher post click ROAS and 2x higher click conversion rates compared to traditional display retargeting methods. And they were delivering them on brand-safe and innocuous pages that were always above the fold, because, well, there is no fold on Facebook. The ads follow you as you scroll up and down the page.

Seeing stellar data points like these really hit home the idea that the FBX opportunity was the next big landrush in online advertising. However, we needed one more piece of the puzzle – how efficiently does FBX perform against above-the-fold only ads on traditional exchanges? We took campaigns from two different advertisers that were simultaneously running on both FBX and traditional, and eventually found mathematical proof highlighting how irrational it is not to be running a campaign on the Facebook Exchange right now: an FBX ad not only out-performs above-the-fold only ads, but they outperform them at 1/3 the cost.

Boiling down the math a bit further, this means:

  • At 1/3 the cost, you’re advertising on all brand-safe pages on Facebook
  • At 1/3 the cost all your ads on FBX are viewable
  • At 1/3 the cost all your ads are being retargeted by a majority of the people who visit your site
  • At 1/3 the cost you’re advertising on the one site where people are parked on all day long

And as our Account Manager Steve Palombo pointed out in an earlier blog post, a majority of the people that leave your site are seeing the ad retargeted to them on Facebook under an hour, sometimes within five minutes after tabbing back to the site that they have open all day long.

Clearly Facebook Exchange works incredibly well if you’re about getting your ads seen, and this could be exactly what direct response marketers have dreamed of all along. But as this trend continues, only one problem remains: how quickly can advertisers get their ads running on on a highly profitable online direct response channel with available inventory at bargain prices before their competitors do?

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