The deal will see brands able to link up Dunnhumby’s data on 17 million households with Facebook’s information about its 37 million monthly unique users in the UK. The hope is that brands will be able to better prove ROI on Facebook ad campaigns and up their spend.
Changing the conversation around social media advertising
Up until now Facebook, like many digital media companies, has struggled to define its role for marketers. As Pollyanna Ward, social media manager at Mondelez highlights, most people don’t go to Facebook to buy a packet of biscuits and so for a lot of FMCG brands it doesn’t really work as a direct response platform.
However it also hasn’t had the data to monitor long term branding impacts and so has struggled to compete with TV.
Digital agency iProspect has previously run tests on the impact of Facebook advertising on sales for brands including Ikea. Its head of product strategy Alistair Dent believes the announcement has the potential to “change the conversation” in marketing departments over Facebook’s role.
“Until now [Facebook] has provided self-service auction tools relevant to DR advertisers, but without being as close to the point of purchase as search. And offered demographic targeting better than TV, but without the impact on branding,” he says. “Many digital branding campaigns have had to be taken on faith. Facebook’s new partnership helps bridge that gap.”
North says work it has already done with BMW in linking offline visitor data to online campaigns led to BMW “believing” in digital performance channels, putting more budget into them and optimising to get the best results.
“Connecting the data gives marketers a much better guide about which type of activity didn’t work, to make better planning decisions in the future. Don’t worry if a campaign fails, learn from it,” he says.
Ward suggests the link up “will help with the ROI of Facebook adverts”. “It will increase the credibility of Facebook advertising when it comes to looking at our marketing strategy because the results will be quantifiable,” she explains.
“It will also mean we can drive more realistic purchases as people are more likely to purchase FMCG goods when in-store as an impulse buy or as a result of being served a relevant ad.”
The data debate
Facebook’s North is keen to highlight that all the data will be anonymised and that security and privacy are high on the agenda. The partnership will be using a third party, Acxiom, to provide a “safe haven in the middle of the data sets” so that Dunnhumby and Facebook data can be brought together for analysis while protecting consumers’ privacy.
“Privacy is very important,” adds North. “This solution anonymously links Dunnhumby data with Facebook’s user base.”
However, Dent says Facebook also has work to do to convince brands to trust the data.
“It is necessarily based on a sample of users who can be tracked both digitally and offline, so they need to extrapolate that out to the whole audience. Digitally savvy users are more likely to be trackable, so a bias exists. If Facebook can convince advertisers that the data can be trusted, they have a great tool on their hands to improve both brand and DR investment,” he says.
Facebook ‘giving itself an A’
Tina Moffett, senior marketing analyst at Forrester Research, agrees. “The social to in-store sales analysis that will occur through this partnership with Dunnhumby is somewhat self serving for Facebook.
“It’s like allowing a kid to grade his own test and he ends up giving himself an A+.”
Tina Moffett, senior marketing analyst, Forrester Research
She also highlights that social to in-store sales are just a small part of marketing and that brands must ensure they look at the results in the context of the wider customer journey.
“Marketers must look at the entire customer journey and all the marketing and media exposure throughout that journey and measure it inclusively through advanced attribution measurement. While [the Dunnhumby analysis” will help quantitatively measure the value of social marketing, the longer term strategy marketers must take is to measure all tactics across all channels,” she explains.
While she believes this is a “good first step”, she suggests Facebook must connect across the entire marketing ecosystem so that marketers can better understand the true value of marketing efforts. “After all, reaching and growing the right customer is identifying the most efficient and effective combination of marketing efforts that will push customers further down the journey.”