The line between search, display and social media are blurring, and that smells like opportunity for venders of campaign management services.
Marin Software, provider of Marin Search Marketer bidding and campaign management tools, announced this week that it has opened up its Facebook integration to all comers.
The new functionality makes use of the Facebook Ad API to let customers optimize campaigns across search, display ad networks, and Facebook from within the same platform. The new Facebook features are algorithmic bidding, audience segmentation, and ad rotation.
Marin has had customers using the Facebook integration since May, including Macy’s, Red Bricks Media, Trouve, and Razorfish; it's now in general availability to all its clients. Those are the big spenders, the so-called enterprise-class customers that buy at least $100,000 across performance media.
While Facebook's wiki lists eight other vendors using its Ad API to provide third-party management tools, Marin says it has tuned its tools to meet the needs of the largest advertisers.
"When you're working with very large data sets, it's all about efficiency," says Matt Lawson, VP of marketing. "Our clients need to have the bidding process optimized, and we made sure the workflows and efficiencies are available in an easy-to-use fashion, so they can get time savings they need."
Also hopping on the Facebook ad management platform are search-focused Kenshoo and Clickable, along with six social media marketing companies. SEM agencies say clients' burgeoning interest in Facebook does not reflect a withering of search, but rather the continued exodus of dollars from traditional media. According to eMarketer, advertisers will spend $1.28 billion worldwide this year on Facebook, while total U.S. spending on social media will reach $1.68 billion, comprising 6.7 percent of all online advertising.
"We still see dollars moving from print and television to online. As they do, search is getting a disproportionate amount of those dollars, but social media and display will, as well. We're going where our clients are shifting their dollars," Lawson says.
There's another reason why search marketers are moving into this space: Social media is making it easy for them.
"The emerging channels are following a model that search marketers are fluent in and accustomed to," says Max Kalehoff, VP of marketing for Clickable. That includes auctions, lots of cost-per-click options and buying and selling methodologies. "They want you to have a frictionless switch over to the new channel."
Clickable's customers range from tiny advertisers to larger marketers that want a very simple management solution combined with trackable performance. "The hyper-targeting of Facebook presents a huge opportunity for businesses beyond what traditional display did," Kalehoff adds. "There's a lot of interest around social, and Facebook is the major platform where that's occurring. It's a big opportunity for tool and technology companies like Clickable. It's critical to be able to expand to emerging channels."
Social media isn't the only thing getting smushed up with search. We earlier reported that Marin would take part in RightMedia's pilot auction of real-time bidded display advertising.
Marin's Lawson notes that Marin Search Marketer already included Google Display Network and Yahoo Content Network. "This is our first foray into what most would consider true display advertising," he says.
Bundling bidding, optimization and reporting among all these digital media lets clients track the path to conversion from Facebook ads to later searches with intent to purchase. Lawson thinks Facebook's ad revenue growth shows that marketers recognize that social media activity by a user now is an indication of the likelihood they'll end up searching and buying at a later date. He says, "The two are closely related, so it's important for search marketers to have a presence on social media, so they can create engagement with potential buyers."
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Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.
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