Facebook recently announced a new product that allows advertisers to run ads targeted at a specific list of their current customers. Marketers will soon be able to upload a list of email addresses or phone numbers, and then launch a campaign targeted at just those users on Facebook.
This capability is not new – it is a product known in the industry as "CRM retargeting." Large portals like AOL, Yahoo, and MSN offer similar products that allow marketers to reach a list of users as they visit their sites, and companies like mine, LiveRamp, help marketers retarget their customer lists across multiple online properties.
For digital marketers, CRM retargeting is used already for retention, brand marketing, reengaging past customers, attribution, and more. Consider a large marketer like a wireless carrier. Their CRM contains a customer's email address, what devices the customer has purchased, the lifetime value of the customer, and other key information about the customer. When their subscription is ending and it's time for the customer to likely buy a new device, the carrier would traditionally send a direct mail campaign and email marketing campaign customized for that individual. With CRM retargeting, the marketer can also reach these high-value customers with display ads, video ads, and other online campaigns that are just as targeted and increase cross-channel performance.
While the concept of CRM retargeting is not new, Facebook's offering does highlight the revolution in the market with new dimensions: radical simplicity and mass market appeal. Until recently, many CRM retargeting campaigns have run through portals that required large upfront commitments, took weeks to set up campaigns, and demanded difficult file specifications that would require IT involvement. This has meant that only the savviest early-adopters have seen the benefits of it to date. Facebook's product reflects recent efforts by the industry to make CRM retargeting dramatically simpler, allowing any marketer to receive its benefits and encouraging widespread adoption. Soon, it will be an important and effective part of every marketer's toolbox.
Facebook's launch will trigger a flurry of industry activity around CRM retargeting. Marketers will test out Facebook's tool, and – once they see the performance and possibilities – will want to integrate those techniques into all their digital campaigns. Ad networks, DSPs, and other ad tech companies will react quickly to create their own simple CRM retargeting products, built on top of the portable platforms such as LiveRamp. DMPs will add capabilities to allow CRM data to be managed alongside online behavioral data. Traditional offline CRM managers (like Epsilon, Acxiom, and Datalab) will bring their powerful data analytics toolset into the display advertising world.
By introducing CRM retargeting to the mass market, Facebook has set up 2013 to be the year of convergence between offline and online marketing.