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Friday, April 26, 2013

To Facebook Thanks For Everything, Email

Don't call it a come back - but email is sexy once again. We went through some tough times over the past few years as marketers sought to find the next big thing. Flocking to social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, MySpace and on and on and on...Poor old email was feeling a little left out in the cold, still the most powerful tool in any marketers tool kit - it was getting NO love. It was all about Social, Social, Social! For all the promise however, Social has never even come close to delivering the ROI of email. It is not only the most widely used application across any device and it's also the single most preferred channel of communication - a major double whammy. Oh and yeah that pesky ROI thing, nothing touches email - so make that a Trifecta.

So all this time, email continued to do its thing...makes brands a ton of cash. While Facebook was struggling to figure out how in a post IPO world it was going to create new ad products that got marketers excited about using its services. Then a funny thing happened....

Facebook, once heralded as THE email killer...not only didn't kill email, actually went 180 degrees in the opposite direction and made email the crown jewel of its advertising services. WOW! Who would have thought that was possible? Just two years ago, every pundit declared over and over that email is dead, Facebook is how brands & people communicate. Well that never quite became reality, some brands actually soured big time on Facebook (GM anyone?) while email volumes continued YOY increases. And here we have Facebook actually creating a sort of email friends, dare I they are bringing sexy back to email?


It's pretty simple actually...Facebook recognized that brands have rich 1st party CRM data sitting inside of their databases. How could they unlock those data sets and allow marketers to use this data on their platform for targeting? The answer is simple - email! Email address is the unique identifier of the web and as it turns out the large majority of Facebook users, use the same email address to sign into Facebook as they do to subscribe to emails from brands. Creating a match made in heaven.

Since the introduction of Facebook's Custom Audiences product, the folks over at Facebook have continued to innovate ad solutions which leverage email for targeting. Look-a-like audiences was introduced and most recently Facebook's most aggressive foray in email targeting - Custom Audiences bundled with 3rd Party offline data. Working with partners like Acxiom, Epsilon and Datalogix, marketers now have the ability to target their own customers using 3rd party data to give them additional insight into what their customers might be interested in purchasing. The feedback thus far has been outstanding. Email innovation at its finest, brought to you courtesy of Facebook!

If you'e thinking wow 3rd party data overlays are pretty darn cool - 1. you'd be right and 2. let's talk a little about how exactly Facebook was able to accomplish this. Oh that's address. Given its status the unique identifier of the web. So how do you marry offline data to an online profile? Well email of course...And guess what? This isn't cookie data, this is matching hashed emails to bring these data sets together. So by its very nature, extremely accurate when a match is made. So....uhhh....yeah, this email thing turns out to actually be MORE important than we originally thought, which is kind of a big deal considering how important it already is. And then there's this small issue of 3rd party cookies and the rise of mobile traffic, making ad targeting even harder, unless you're using email as your targeting key that is!

Here's where I get to plug my own company since, this is after all my blog. We're doing the exact same thing here at LiveIntent. Not only do we allow the same functionality that allows brands & marketers to upload their 1st Party CRM (also 3rd Party) data but we can use IAB standard display units that will serve across our entire network of 350+ publishers. Meaning you can target your audience in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Meredith, Hearst, Conde Nast and so on....some pretty cool and powerful stuff. And if you're a publisher you can now sell this solution to your advertisers if you are working with us. We call it CRX - Customer Relationship Extension and the premise is the same as Facebook's...marketers want to target their best customers...which are their subscribers of course! Since you'll never get 100% open rates, make sure you are getting in front of your non-openers as well.

Facebook and email, once mortal enemies but now star crossed lovers....This is a storyline worthy of Shakespeare himself!