Facebook on Wednesday rolled out a new feature that lets brands target users for status updates that don't appear on their brand Pages.
The intent is to let brands target a subset of customers without alienating other members of its customer base. For example, a sporting goods brand could run a post appealing to basketball fans. While the post wouldn't appear on the brand's Page, it would run in the News Feed of fans who have an affinity for the sport. Other scenarios include a telecom carrier that wanted to target possible switchers (perhaps fans who have shown an interest in a new model of phone) rather than send a more general branding message to its overall fan population. Finally, the unit can be used for A/B testing of ads. In other words, a marketer can run two or more different messages and then see which ones do the best.
Facebook released a similar option in mid-2012 that let brands target sponsored posts to users in the right rail, but now brands can do so in the news feed as well.
Though the units are called "posts," they are actually ads that can link to the brand's homepage or back to their Facebook Page. However, the format allows the ads to run in the News Feed. Though Facebook on Tuesday announced a small test in which behavioral-targeting-based Facebook Exchange ads can run in the News Feed, that real estate — in the center of the Page — has been off limits to standard advertising.
The new option comes as Facebook has employed information from Datalogix to identify users who have purchased various products and then segment their messages accordingly. The company also recently rolled out Lookalike Audiences, an option that lets advertisers identify not only their own target users, but other people on the network who resemble them. Such data can help advertisers find people who are in the market for a product they're selling or are fans of a rival brand.