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Facebook pushes advertisers to leverage user data more effectively

A smartphone user shows the Facebook application on his phone in the central Bosnian town of Zenica, in this photo illustration, May 2, 2013. The social media company is encouraging its advertisers to make better use of data to plan creative campaigns.


Facebook Inc. is pushing advertisers to be more strategic with the vast data the social website has on its 1.4 billion users.

The company is encouraging more creative tactics, such as distributing different versions of the same ad depending on a viewer's interests, said Carolyn Everson, Facebook's vice-president of global marketing solutions. She's also preparing marketers for the opportunity to use Facebook's targeting data for ads on Instagram, the photo-sharing application owned by the company.

Facebook will highlight the efforts in meetings with clients and ad agency partners at the Cannes Lions festival in France this week, the largest annual global gathering of advertisers and marketers. The company is seeking to increase its share of the $145-billion (U.S.) global advertising market that EMarketer estimates at 8 per cent.

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The mission is that "the creative community really starts to learn and understand the power of our data," Ms. Everson said.

For Facebook, the advertising event beginning Monday in southern France is like "preparing for the World Cup or for the Olympics," Ms. Everson said. The company is constructing a space resembling its Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters to train marketers on ad ideas that might work best. Advertisers such as Toyota Motor Corp.'s Lexus have already tried running different versions of the same ad for different interest groups, she said.

Facebook already uses some of its data for ad targeting on Instagram, but it's limited to age and gender. That's about to change, Ms. Everson said.

"The notion is to open up the entire suite of Facebook targeting on Instagram over the next few months," she said.

Ms. Everson said buying ads on Instagram will become easier. Today, "it's not like you can just check a box if you're buying things on Facebook and it will also work on Instagram. But we're working toward that."

The company's shares gained 2.7 per cent to $84.74 at the close in New York and have increased 8.6 per cent this year.

Facebook, which bought Instagram for more than $700-million in 2013, has been looking to boost revenue from the photo-sharing service, which has more than 300 million users. By marrying Facebook's data,"it should deliver a better return on investment because the marketer is actually reaching someone who is interested," she said.

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The company historically has had to balance providing relevant advertising with being too intrusive for its users. Last year, Facebook started to give users more information about how they are targeted in their news feeds, letting individuals look at a list of what Facebook thinks they're interested in and uncheck boxes that aren't true, for example.

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