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Why other brands will follow P&G away from Facebook targeting

P&G?s decision to step back from Facebook ads that target specific consumers highlights how mobile data can drive precision advertising, which is not necessarily a good thing if scale is lost along the way. 

More precise targeting is often hailed as a hero by big brands looking to vanquish inefficient marketing. However, as P&G learned, there is a need for broad appeals in the digital landscape as more time is spent on connected devices, with Facebook currently one of best ways to go wide.  

?I think what P&G is seeing isn?t an anomaly,? said Chuck Moxley, chief marketing officer at 4Info. ?I would expect brands to follow suit, and really leverage Facebook what it?s best for ? huge reach.?

Tough choices
Facebook, which sees the majority of its use and advertising revenue on mobile, has built a powerful engine for narrowly targeting consumers based on a variety of markers. 

For marketers, this initially sounded like music to their ears. By focusing on consumers the data indicates are a good match for a product, fewer dollars are wasted on those who are not interested. 

However, P&G?s chief marketing officer Marc Pritchard recently told The Wall Street Journal that the company went too narrow on targeting. In one instance, Febreze sales stalled with a targeted approach, then increased when a broader appeal was made. 

Going forward, P&G said it will look at keeping both achieving scale and precision marketing in its crosshairs. 

The CPG marketer?s Facebook budget will remain the same while it will cut back on smaller sites. 

?Marketers are left with this really tough decision:  do we choose precise and accurate targeting, or do we just buy huge reach and know that many of our impressions are wasted,? Mr. Moxley said.

?What Mr. Pritchard is echoing is exactly what we hear from marketers:  they don?t want to be forced to choose,? he said. ?They want both!   

Context and content
P&G?s decision to step back from targeting on Facebook also underscores the social platform?s strength, which is reaching a broad swath of digital consumers. 

However, more precise targeting has been one of the ways that Facebook has been able to command higher prices for ads, with mobile ads tending to have lower costs than on desktop because of the smaller screen size. 

Going forward, Facebook needs to find other ways to keep marketers happy if targeting is going to play a smaller role. This is one reason Facebook said this week it will insure ads get through on desktop even when ad blockers are in use. 

While marketers are still trying to figure when and how much targeting to use, they are also struggling with finding the right context and content to appeal to mobile users, something else the P&G news highlights. Simply getting mentioned or liked on social media does not reflect intent to purchase.  

?P&G has long held that ?the Consumer is Boss,? and, as we all know, effective communications with the boss requires the right context and content,? said Matt Nitzberg, chief growth officer at ThinkVine. ?While it?s possible that some targeting was too narrowly defined, it?s also likely that some consumers simply didn?t want to see or respond to ads or promotions on Facebook, even from brands they favor. 

??Targeting? is not enough: The context and content have to be appealing to consumers,? he said. ?The context also has to be right for marketers. 

?Great brand storytellers like P&G want to reach consumers when and where they are willing to watch and listen, which increasingly includes mobile video, much of it powered by mobile programmatic.?

A digital future
While the targeting issue is another hiccup on the road to stellar digital marketing, the stakes are high enough that platforms and marketers will keep at it. 

 For example, the Digital Democracy Survey from Deloitte Consulting found that more than half of millennials now rank social media ads as having a high/medium influence over their buying decisions.
 ?The state of media saturation has given the U.S. public more nuanced tastes, however, mobile technology has served to increasingly meet expectations,? said Kevin Westcott, partner and US media and entertainment practice leader for Deloitte Consulting LLP. ?As online content continues to proliferate and as global businesses look for advertising channels that will provide them with the highest ROI, social media platforms are poised for future growth.?