Facebook Inks Deal With Acxiom, Epsilon, and Others to Show Ads Based On Shopping Habits

Acxiom, Epsilon, Datalogix, BlueKai Announced As Partners

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Facebook is formally announcing its partnership with data behemoths Acxiom, Epsilon and Datalogix to target ads to users based on their recent in-store purchases.

Ad Age reported last week that the social network was already beta-testing the product -- which will enable brands to match data gathered through shopper loyalty programs to individual Facebook profiles for ad targeting on the platform -- with top agency partners like OMD. Aimed at CPG marketers, it would hypothetically would enable Pampers to deliver ads to Facebook users who have recently purchased baby products, or Coca-Cola to market to teenagers in Atlanta who've bought soda in the past month.

Credit: Illustration by Athletics

The targeting will function through anonymized matching of loyalty-program members and Facebook users through email addresses and phone numbers. Holders of loyalty cards from retailers are asked for their email or phone number when they register, and Facebook users sign into the site using one or the other, and a match between two corresponding data points needs to be detected to enable delivery of an ad.

It functions similarly to another Facebook ad product that was rolled out last fall: "custom audiences." In that case, brands can upload their CRM databases consisting of phone numbers, emails and addresses into Facebook to target their existing customer base with ads. The technology in place to protect consumer privacy in that instance is the same as for the new ad targeting powered by shopper data. Through a process calling "hashing," a match can be found without allowing Facebook data to be intelligible to the data vendors, or vice versa, according to a Facebook spokeswoman.

Facebook is also announcing a partnership with a fourth big-data purveyor: BlueKai. That company's integration with Facebook will be cookie-based and not connected to offline purchases, and thus akin to the Facebook Exchange but with some distinctions. It will enable brands to target cookie clusters that BlueKai may have stored for them over a longer period of time, whereas FBX is designed to function in real-time to show ads to Facebook who have relatively recently visited a website and had a cookie dropped on them.

BlueKai's integration will also allow for ads delivered through cookie matching to show up as sponsored stories or other formats, whereas FBX ads are only shown on Facebook's right-hand rail.

For example, an automaker can potentially target people who visited its website a year ago to configure a car, according to a Facebook spokeswoman.

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