A conversation with ZOG Digital’s VP of Media
With Facebook’s announcement of coming changes to their data policies, marketers are asking what they need to know and do. We sat down with Chris Moreno for a no-frills conversation about what’s going on, and what we need to plan for.
ZD: Hello. So, what’s going on with Facebook?
Chris Moreno: Back in 2015, a professor created a polling app on Facebook (“This Is Your Digital Life”) using app developer access and proper permissions. But he wasn't transparent about what he was actually doing — requesting access to users’ friends' data as well as their own. This allowed him to go after some 40 million users, plus the exponential of people who are friends with them. (The latest number of those affected has reached 87 million.)
He did this by going against Facebook's terms and conditions on how to properly use the developer access. I wouldn't call this a security or data breach. It's a trust breach, and it shows why Facebook needs to do a better job being transparent about what it collects on its users and what they do with that data. That seems to be the focus of the US Congressional hearings. Because while data wasn't sold by Facebook, eventually Cambridge Analytica got it, and they sold it to advertisers. The carrot? Giving the advertisers the ability to create psychographic profiles of people based on their behaviors, interests, what they do on Facebook, what they're clicking on, what they're interacting with, etc. Incredibly powerful information.
ZD: How will this affect brands and marketers?
Moreno: Marketers and brands are at Facebook’s mercy, because we want their data for our advertising and media planning and campaign build-outs. We need their data to properly identify the right people for our brand message, our services, our products.
However, the headlines right now should read "Facebook Removing the Use of Third-Party Data." That's Datalogix, Acxiom, Epsilon …
ZD: So, what are these firms going to do now?
Moreno: For enterprise-level accounts, marketers can still go directly to Datalogix to define a target user to layer onto their current advertising campaigns. That's always been the case with programmatic media buying; you work with a third-party data provider to augment your audience targeting and narrow down your user pool. What has changed is now you’re going to have to create a direct relationship with them – an additional cost and separate agreement outside of Facebook.
ZD: Will that make things more complicated, or time-consuming?
Moreno: Not everybody will have access to that data anymore. It's really for larger, enterprise-level brands. While we currently use third-party data providers for some of our small-to-middle-sized advertisers, it won’t have the same impact, because we've shifted toward leveraging a brand's first-party data in those instances. We look at people who have previously interacted with a social account, on a website, interacted with content — brand engagement and interactions that enable first-party targeting. Identifying consumers who have been to your website, are on your email list and have converted 3 or 4 times over the past six months – that’s the target. That's a more qualified consumer than someone who is not on your email list.
ZD: It sounds like it's a consideration and conversion play now, as opposed to awareness?
Moreno: For awareness, you're still going to have the ability to use Facebook's interest targeting. What pages people interact with, what brands they're connecting with, likes and interests that users willingly put into Facebook. That's still going to be there. And that's what Facebook needs to be much more transparent about, what it's doing with that data collection. Because without users, there isn't an advertising platform.
That said, I don't think the user base is going anywhere. They’ve got 1.7 billion daily active users — that was Q4's announcement. Their Q1 2018 announcement is April 25th. Should be interesting.
ZD: As in the user count may be lower?
Moreno: I think there will be enough disclosed about it that took a hit on daily user base. But I think it's going to have a year-over-year, quarterly, exponential growth. I don't think it's going to do much to tarnish media buys from marketers because with the amount of eyeball time that they have between Facebook and Instagram, it's just too paramount and element to a media strategy.
ZD: Is there anything that you think the C-suite would or should be worried about specifically?
Moreno: No. Media and publishers are pushing about how it's a data breach and a security breach, but really it's just a trust issue with its users, and if they can positively bounce back from this. I don't see Facebook going anywhere.
ZD: Do you think there's an opportunity for brands to get ahead and perhaps tell their customers “this is how we use your data”? Would that be advisable?
Moreno: Yes and no. I think people want and expect a streamlined experience. If I’m an advocate of a brand, and you know I purchased a specific product three months ago, and I'm more likely to purchase again, and I'm going to have a say about that product, I would like to know you have that information about me. If the messaging comes as a sale price or there's some value proposition that's more enticing to me as an advocate of your brand, why not use that data to provide me with the service to save money or another option, right? Some users may not understand why they're being advertised to, and Facebook's doing a much better job now by saying, "Why are you seeing this ad?" You can click any ad on the top right-hand corner and see why a brand is targeting you and it'll tell you because you've been to their website in the last 30 days, or it says because you are between the ages of 18 and 24, in Phoenix, who likes this brand.
Moreno: It's being much more transparent with why you might be receiving an ad for that particular brand, or product, or service. But, I think if a company announces in their ad copy, "This is a sale happening just for you because we know you purchased X product last time" it doesn’t need to be that black and white within copy. I think people come to expect it now. Because it's ease of use, right? It's seamless. Should be frictionless.
ZD: Has the analytics or the data that marketers have access to changed at all?
Moreno: No, not at all. We're still going to be able to get details about who our consumers are, but it's going to be more so about what their interests are, what their likes are, and no longer household or purchase behaviors. That's what Facebook's going to remove: if you’re a mom with children in a household and you typically purchase Pampers or diapers. That’s the third-party data that’s going away. But, that's not to say that Facebook's first-party data, which is interests and likes and activity, can't paint a similar picture.
ZD: Okay, so that's like household data.
Moreno: Right, it's the household and behavioral data that’s going away.
ZD: But we have access to other tools, where we can layer these things in, right?
Moreno: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, there's other ways to identify who that consumer is. And that's why going back to your first-party data is going to be much more important.
ZD: Anything else that a marketer should consider?
Moreno: As a marketer, you need to switch your mentality to leverage your first-party data and put your target audience in the center of your marketing mix, your funnel. If you're prospecting with an awareness campaign and you're using broad, interest-based category targeting, how do you identify, of those users, who you think is the best one to drive to your website? Because once you get them there it's permission marketing, right? You can identify what they do on your site: did they find out about your product, your contact us page; did they drill down all the way to find a location if you're a brick and mortar? That user's much more invested and much more valuable to you than someone who hit your home page and then left, right?
So that's your first-party data with Facebook Pixel tracking. That's where, as marketers, you need to hone in on that user and that path more, to be able to segment that user differently and treat them differently the next time they log into Facebook. Comparing the person who's hit the home page and immediately bounced to the person who then hit the location page and spent 90 more seconds on-site, I would invest more money targeting to the latter and building your strategy off that. Then really hone your CRM list, understand your email list, what you have, what to make of it, who's a high intent customer, lifetime values.
Because the ability to take that data and upload it to Facebook, to identify those consumers, that’s not going away. Again, it's just the ability to find out how many people are going to be there within that list.
ZD: So, it's going to be important that you work with a partner that can help you clean up and maintain that first-party data.
Moreno: Correct. Have a strategy for your first-party data and know what to do with it once you have that data segmented. That's the biggest thing.