A monthly look at the world of digital from NORTH’s point of view

Image Source: MarketingLand

Facebook Testing Marketplace Ads

By Caroline Desmond, Director of Media Strategy

Last Friday, Recode announced Facebook will begin testing user engagement with ads in its Marketplace feature. Facebook Marketplace is the craigslist-like section of the Facebook app where users can browse used products for sale in their area. Since launching last October, Marketplace has grown to a user base of 550M+ people who visit buy and sell groups. Facebook has featured this section prominently on the app (front and center on the main bottom navigation menu), probably to drum up user traffic to and engagement with the feature. The vision seems to be to create an option for Facebook users to sell items locally without the stranger danger of craigslist or the bother of shipping items for sale to an online retail forum like eBay.

As Recode notes, only a small percentage of US Facebook users will see ads now, and Facebook will be pulling existing ads from its newsfeed targeting campaigns and placing in Marketplace at no additional cost to brands. It is unknown whether Facebook will be contacting brands that are selected and whether those brands will be notified of performance metrics for test ads in Marketplace.

If this becomes a viable advertising tactic within the Facebook app, there is a reasonable probability that it could make sense for brands with online sales goals. This could be particularly true for brands with resale inventory or deeply discounted products such as those offered during a sales promotions, because consumers visiting Facebook Marketplace are already in the mindset to buy, and they’re looking for a deal. Marketplace ads may be particularly successful for brands in the home decor or women’s fashion categories, or brands selling toys or clothing for children or babies. This is based on internal Facebook Marketplace data covering January 1, 2017 — May 31, 2017 showing the three most popular categories in Marketplace US are: Furniture, Babies & Kids, and Women’s Clothing. It is worth noting that users who click on ads from Marketplace will still have to buy on a brand e-comm site. As of now, there are no plans to enable buying directly within Facebook Marketplace.

Image Source: Facebook for Business via

Marketplace is not without its challenges. The feature has caught some flack since launch for low quality items. It also competes with more grassroots social platforms like NextDoor, which is positioned as “the private social network for your neighborhood.” NextDoor also allows its members to post items for sale, and goes even a bit further toward breaking down stigmas around meeting up with a perfect stranger to buy or sell something due to its neighborly focus. Time will tell, but it’s likely that the quality of goods on Facebook Marketplace will improve as more people adopt it. The underlying goal to connect people and encourage reuse of goods is not without its positives. Furthermore, there could be a great opportunity to identify audiences ready to buy, creating a boost in ROI performance for brands seeking to drive sales from ads within the Facebook app.

Game Changer: You Can Now Retarget People Who Viewed Your YouTube Ads In Search

By Devon Brown, Performance Marketing Manager

If you’re a client, expect to see YouTube on most plans going forward. Prior to last week, YouTube had one siloed purpose: to generate awareness when you had a killer video. It was crap at driving clicks and had no retargeting features, so data capture was a non-starter. It was a great awareness driver, but had few benefits beyond that.

Now, Google has introduced the ability to retarget users with search ads after they have engage with video or a client’s YouTube channel. Likes, comments, shares, page likes, video completions, and channel subscriptions are all actions available for retargeting. YouTube video views are generally cheaper than Facebook video views, so this is great news for those who are looking for efficient ways to bring new customers into the funnel (everyone?). There is currently not an option to create similar audiences based on people who have viewed your video, but hopefully this will be added in the future, because similar audiences have consistently proven to be an efficient tactic across other Google owned channels.

With this recent development, Google appears to be moving toward Facebook level targeting on all fronts, so it will be interesting to see which features they continue to add that bring search, display, and YouTube data together. I know here at NORTH, this feature and others like it will go into testing immediately, so stay tuned for results and case studies.

Net Neutrality: A Rant

By Flynn Robertson, Assistant Media Planner

Image Source: Civic Action Center

Net neutrality is a concept I vehemently support (and you should too). The strange thing about my passion for this subject is, until recently, I had only the vaguest idea of what exactly net neutrality is. My knowledge basically boiled down to “net neutrality good” and “controlling internet speeds bad” and that every once in awhile, there is some sort of political motion to remove net neutrality. In order to speak more about the topic, I knew it was time for me to do some digging.

While my two initial thoughts regarding the topic encompass net neutrality in the most pithy way imaginable, I emerged from my Google deep-dive on the subject a slightly more enlightened person. Net neutrality is a topic that could be discussed in length, and if you search the C-SPAN archives, I’d imagine you can dig up hours of tedious-yet-informative content from the senate floor. If you’d like to learn a little more about this topic, but don’t want to scour the internet for resources like I did, I’ll point you to this video from Last Week Tonight

The more I learn about the battle for net neutrality, the more I realize that we should all, personally show concern for this topic, and that those of us in the advertising industry should also regard it as a professional matter. From a personal perspective, think about how frequently you, or someone you know, already complains about the difficulties they face when dealing with their Internet Service Provider (ISP). Now imagine that ISP was allowed to divide digital traffic (and I’m over-simplifying here) into a fast and slow lane, giving preferential treatment to those sites that have earned a spot in the fast lane, and effectively dooming the parties limited to the slow lane. If you thought Comcast couldn’t get any worse than it already is, it could, and eliminating net neutrality is a guaranteed way for that happen.

Image Source: TechCrunch

Allowing net neutrality to die would also have immediate (I believe negative) effects on the advertising industry. If tiered speeds were introduced, this would allow for large (and wealthy) publishers to control all the traffic in the fast lane, leaving smaller publishers in the slow lane. This is something the ad industry has been following closely for the last few years. Even back in 2014, AdAge discussed one potential side effect of removing net neutrality noting that a rollback of net neutrality policy could mean “it might take a lot longer to load a video ad than the page content around it, or vice versa depending on who pays for better service.” In essence, throttled internet speeds could lead to either missed opportunities to reach your audience because ads load too slow, or poor user experience because ads load faster than page content leaving users frustrated with negative associations toward the brand they perceive as slowing down the page load time.

It’s easy to not get riled up about a topic with a name as bland as net neutrality, but I assure you, this is a topic that we all should have at least a baseline level of knowledge about. Go out, open up Google, or head over to Reddit, and do a little research if you haven’t yet. It is likely this topic will have personal, and potentially professional, implications for all of us. You might find that you agree with me, or you may think I’m totally wrong. Either way, it’s important for us all to be familiar with the topic, even if you rely on John Oliver for your information.