Facebook-Publicis Ad Partnership Centers on Data

Facebook and Publicis signed a major ad deal last week, representing hundreds of millions of dollars for the social media giant over the coming years. But looking beyond the money, the partnership between the two industry behemoths further emphasizes just how important social data is.

Although there are few specifics about the agreement, clearly Publicis has committed to a sizeable media spend. In exchange, Facebook will provide the ad holding company with comprehensive access to its properties, and help Publicis create new planning and measurement tools “to make buying easier, more efficient, and ultimately prove out [return on investment] ROI,” Patrick Harris, director of global agency development at Facebook, said in a statement.

Industry experts speculate that data will play a pivotal role in this partnership.

“There are not many details provided yet, but I imagine data is a very important part of it,” says Matt Powell, chief information officer at integrated marketing agency KBS.

It appears that Facebook data will be integrated into Publicis’ media-mix-modeling platform, allowing them to see how Facebook ads perform. Additionally, the two companies will work closely to test rich measurement.

However, Publicis didn’t specify how exactly it will deploy Facebook’s prolific data in its ad campaigns.

“The focus [would be on] using data to inform more effective communications or media planning, to improve targeting, and for testing,” says Powell. “Essentially, augmenting data sets [that are] traditionally used in media-mix modeling with data provided by Facebook.”

Social data alone is not enough to make successful campaigns, according to Powell, but if media planners combine Facebook’s proprietary data with insights from traditional communication planning tools, they could develop a better understanding of their audience.

Ron Schott, director of professional services at Simply Measured, a provider of social media analytics and measurement, also predicts that this deal will give Publicis a competitive edge since they can leverage Facebook data for research and analytics purposes.

“Data is absolutely central to these types of deals,” he says. “Publicis will now have an incredible audience research tool available to them, combining a ton of inferred and self-attributed information from location to dining preferences.”

He points out that previously, agencies and brands relied on small surveys, extrapolated data, or site metrics to define their audience’s personas. But since users post their basic information (age, gender, relationship status, etc.), and share everything they are interested in on the social media platform, Facebook’s data and insights can bring agencies and brands closer to consumers’ needs and actions.

“That’s something that this partnership can offer – a different, closer view on the consumer,” Schott tells ClickZ. “The thing that’s different here, though, is that agencies will start taking learnings from Facebook data more and more, and using them in how they target, measure, and create campaigns outside the digital space.”

While this isn’t the first time we’ve seen partnerships between social platforms and holding companies (last year, Publicis-owned Starcom Mediavest Group and WPP struck ad deals with Twitter), Publicis is the first ad holding company to broker a deal with Facebook. And given the rapid growth of social data, which mostly comes from Facebook, industry experts estimate that other media companies will soon follow suit.

“I’d say you’ll see deals from Omnicom, Interpublic Group, and others soon,” says Schott.

When asked if WPP will enter into a similar ad deal, Rob Norman, chief digital officer at GroupM (a WPP company), gave a somewhat vague answer.

“We, Omnicom, and Publicis are all looking for the most important source of data to define our prospects, and append that data to inventory to reach our audiences most effectively,” he says, emphasizing that although WPP and Facebook have not yet announced specific initiatives, they do collaborate on data projects.

“We have, however, announced a partnership with Twitter to produce social TV ratings in countries where we have the Television Audience Measurement contract,” he adds.

Image via Shutterstock.

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