Blake Chandlee, Facebook’s Global VP, was part of the opening keynote and later part of a discussion that occurred during a press release, so it was nice to hear about this partnership from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.
Sorry, Blake, I’m really not calling you a horse. After all, you’re Deepak Advani’s new BFF – and that’s something.
[Dear Reader, here’s definitive proof that Blake is, most definitely, not a horse.]
I digress. Back to business. I think the Facebook/IBM partnership is tremendously exciting, for so many reasons, the most important of which is all about people.
But is it Good for People?
Obviously, as marketers, our goal is to create advertising campaigns that compel customers to action. Let’s be honest–we mostly want to sell stuff. And thankfully, the days of “spray and pray” advertising—akin to throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks are pretty much over. That said, we also know that without a marketing budget, the chances of ads reaching your target market on Facebook are slim to none. That, combined with Facebook’s recent algorithm changes have seen brands’ reach plummet. They’ve also cracked down on “like-baiting,” and started penalizing brands that are overly-promotional. Good for the site’s billions of users? Sure. Good for marketers? Maybe not so much. But I think that’s short-sighted. In spite of the fact that I’m a marketer, I’m a big fan of these changes and the continual evolution of Facebook. I think that what’s good for people is what matters – and link-bait, promotional nonsense, and untargeted posts about things I don’t have any interest in showing up in my feed annoy me. What about you? And if we don’t want to see that stuff, I’m pretty sure that lots of other consumers don’t either. So, while on the surface these changes might not be marketers’ favorite things, in reality, they’re maybe not so bad after all.
What’s This IBM/Facebook Partnership All About?
So, we agree that what’s good for people is what matters, right? That’s where this latest announcement of the IBM/Facebook partnership comes in. Analytics, including social media data, can (and should) play a big role in how marketers most effectively reach their target audiences and give them what they want, when they want it. When you mix IBM’s deep analytics and sentiment analysis with Facebook’s audience data — then add in the plethora of customer data brands already have collected, including purchase behavior, responses to email campaigns and call center inquiries? What you get is data fueled ads. Ads targeting the right audience with the right messages at the right time. What’s not to like about that?
Deeply Personalized, Contextually Relevant, Real-Time Messaging is the Key
As Deepak Advani, General Manager for IBM Commerce, says, “This is not about running personalized email campaigns. It’s about having a conversation that is both personalized and in context.”
Deeply personalized, in fact. What’s so exciting about this Facebook/IBM partnership is that it will allow marketers to purchase Facebook ads created using the combined data from both Facebook and IBM’s Marketing Cloud (the latter including data like weather, location, and previous purchase history) as well as IBM’s new “Journey Designer” technology (which deploys ads tailored to individual customers in real time).
As Jay Henderson, director at IBM Commerce, told FastCompany recently “IBM will work together with Facebook to help marketers share highly relevant content with their customers in a way that goes far beyond typical social advertising. IBM’s powerful marketing automation and customer analytics will draw deep insights about consumers. Combined with other pertinent information such as purchase history, demographics, location, and more, this enables businesses to engage with customers in context with their own unique preferences. And marketers can now also analyze customer journeys across channels—including interactions that occurred in Facebook.”
They won’t actually get their hands on Facebook data, however. Instead, IBM will “help brands syndicate their existing advertisements and analytics onto Facebook’s ad platform. (For example) an athletic shoe retailer could use Facebook’s audience segmentation tools to find customers who post about athletic shoes on the social network, and then leverage local weather and recreational information to build individual promotions aimed at each customer.”
There are benefits to brands beyond just what happens on Facebook. Ad buyers can then take the campaigns that work on Facebook and replicate them elsewhere.
For Facebook, the motivation for the IBM partnership is pretty basic: Their goal is for ads on Facebook to be more useful and more relevant to the platform’s 1.4 billion users. Not only do they want to serve up the right content at the right time and in the right manner, they’re looking at whether they actually moved the needle (read that: sold something) as a result. In fact, here’s what Chandlee said during the press conference that pretty much encapsulates these goals:
— Shelly Kramer (@ShellyKramer) May 12, 2015
What Makes This Partnership Different?
There’s already a sizeable ecosystem of companies tapping into Facebook’s ad capabilities. But what differentiates the new partnership with IBM? Jay Henderson, director for IBM Commerce, pointed out that Facebook is the first company to join IBM’s THINKLab where team members from IBM and Facebook work with advertisers to create campaigns with a focus on personalized customer experiences: “No other company is doing this with Facebook today.”
IBM has been working hard to become the ultimate business solution for large businesses. It’s been inking deals with social and tech behemoths for awhile now, including Twitter and Apple. But Facebook is the most popular social network in the world, making the site an important component of any online marketing strategy. Facebook’s dominance in the social space makes it a key partner for IBM.
I think this partnership is one worth watching. And not because I’m a fan of IBM or Facebook. But instead, because I’m not only a marketer, I’m a consumer. And like every other consumer on the planet, I have limited time, limited brain bandwidth, and I want what I want when I want it. If partnerships like this can help weed out the crap that comes my way and serve me instead more personalized, more relevant, more timely content, it will make my life easier. It will solve the problems that I have. I will probably buy more stuff. More easily. It will give me more time to do the things I like to do instead of the things that give me headaches. This? I like.
So, I think this partnership is worth watching. And if you’re a brand wanting to maximize your return on marketing investment in the smartest, most data-driven manner possible, it might just make sense for you to spend a little time investigating how these tools can help you do just that.
More resources on this topic:
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