Macy’s Inc. will roll out on Thanksgiving a major Facebook ad campaign: Every woman in the United States who is 21 or older and looks at Facebook will see a video ad that aims to capture the “magic and spirit” of the retailer’s holiday promotions.
The retailer will then build on the campaign by delivering new video ads—and other Facebook ads—to those shoppers who interacted with the initial video by commenting on it, sharing it or Liking it. The follow-up ads, which will appear tomorrow, Friday and Saturday, will showcase the retailer’s Thanksgiving weekend sales, Facebook Inc. tells Internet Retailer.
Macy’s did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
While Macy’s, No. 8 in the Internet Retailer 2014 Top 500 Guide, has one of the broadest holiday ad campaigns on Facebook, it is hardly alone in leveraging the social network’s ad units—particularly video ads—and their unique targeting capabilities. For example, Kate Spade, No. 176, has already launched a holiday video ad starring actress and singer Anna Kendrick that has reached more than 6.7 million consumers and has been played more than 1.3 million times. The video has received more than 43,000 Likes, comments and shares. And Vistaprint Ltd., No. 33, is running a video ad campaign that ends today that aims to show shoppers that they can use its platform to craft holiday cards.
Video ads, which officially launched in March, are big business for Facebook. The social network registers roughly 1 billion video views a day (not all are ads)—65% of them on mobile devices. Video is growing quickly—the number of video views grew 50% between May and July—says Nicolas Franchet, the social network’s head of retail, e-commerce, global vertical marketing.
That’s a reflection of the social network’s efforts to make the ad unit an effective tool for marketers, he says. For example, Facebook in June began letting marketers place a call to action at the end of a video that shoppers can click to learn more about a product or visit a specific web site or page. Advertisers can also use the same targeting tools they use for the social network’s other ad units, including Custom Audience, which lets advertisers use such information as e-mail addresses that shoppers provide them off of Facebook to target ads on the social network, as well as its Lookalike Audience tool that lets marketers target ads at consumers who share similar traits to its Custom Audience segments.
Vistaprint’s video ad campaign, for instance, leveraged Lookalike Audience to attract new customers who are similar to those who bought holiday cards last year. The video ad those shoppers see features a mother and father attempting to collect their dog and two young children together for a family photo for their holiday card. With the tag line “the process of holiday cards can be exhausting, but holiday cards don’t have to be,” the ad closes with a Facebook-specific promo code. Nearly 180,000 consumers have seen the video.
“Video ads are helping retailers lead shoppers into their holiday promotions,” Franchet says. “The ads can build on the emotional nature of the season.”
Video is just one facet of retailers’ multipronged approach to Facebook marketing, he says. For example, they are also leveraging the social network’s other ad units, including the Multiproduct ad, which lets a brand highlight several products at once in a single ad that appears in the news feed. Franchet previewed the ad unit at the 10th annual Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in June.
One tool most brands aren’t using is the Buy button. Facebook in July announced it was testing a Buy button, which enables the social network’s desktop and mobile users to click the button on ads and page posts to purchase a product directly from a business without leaving the social network. But the Buy button is still a “small experiment with U.S.-only small retailers,” Franchet says.
As Facebook continues its experiment with a handful of small merchants, shopping-focused social network Wanelo earlier this week launched its own Buy on Wanelo button that lets shoppers stay on the social network to buy the items they discover on its platform. About 200 online merchants, including Urban Outfitters Inc., No. 48 in the Internet Retailer 2014 Top 500 Guide, and Nasty Gal Inc., No. 113, are using the button.
Facebook is charting a different course. The social network is focusing largely on driving retailers to buy ads to reach consumers with marketing messages. The social network earlier this month said in January it will change its news feed algorithm, which determines what consumers see in their news feeds, to minimize the number of consumers who see a brand’s organic posts if they are too promotional. But the change won’t impact ads.
That’s a marked change from several years ago when the social network challenged marketers to build communities on its platform. “The paid products we’ve put out are really the way to run campaigns at scale,” Franchet says.
Facebook has been down this track for a few years. The social network has steadily reduced the number of unpromoted brand posts consumers see in their news feeds. The percentage of shoppers who see a brand’s typical Facebook post is half what it was a year ago, according to the latest Adobe Digital Index, which is based on data gathered from thousands of Adobe Systems Inc.’s retail clients. And that continues a shift by Facebook to limit the percentage of shoppers who see unpromoted posts. While 16.0% of a brand’s fans saw a brand’s post in February 2012, that percentage fell to 6.5% in March 2014, according to news feed optimization service Edgerank Checker.
The changes have meant that a retailer like Charlotte Russe Inc., No. 393 in the Top 500 Guide, has seen its organic posts’ reach decline as low as .1%, according to Kristen Strickler, the youth apparel retailer’s social media and public relations manager. To garner exposure that they no longer receive on the platform organically, many merchants are turning to ads.