Standard Web Retargeting vs. Facebook Exchange (FBX)


How does standard web retargeting stack up against Facebook Exchange (FBX)?


Facebook Exchange (FBX) was, without doubt, the hottest thing that launched in online advertising in 2012. It opened up Facebook’s massive audience and ad inventory to programmatic buying, specifically retargeting, an online advertising channel already exploding in growth. Facebook’s standard ad products, powered by Facebook demographic and psychographic data, are tremendously effective for a number of marketing strategies. However, relying on intent data, Facebook Exchange acts more like a direct response channel geared towards the bottom of the funnel and performance-driven campaigns rather than a demand generation channel.

AdRoll was one of the first partners Facebook brought onto FBX, and today we have over 700 advertisers running on the platform. In Facebook’s last earnings call, Sheryl Sandberg stated FBX currently supports more than 1300 advertisers. This means that over half of the advertisers leveraging Facebook do so using AdRoll.

Given the rampant success of FBX campaigns, many in the industry have begun to wonder, should an advertiser put all their eggs in one basket and choose Facebook Exchange over standard web retargeting when allocating a set marketing budget? We too were curious and looked to our data to answer the question. Of the 700+ advertisers running on FBX, we looked at 468 that ran both standard web retargeting and FBX campaigns during the last 6 months of 2012. The results are surprising!

Facebook Exchange performed better among several key performance indicators:

  • CPMs were dramatically lower (-82%)
  • CPCs were also lower (-70%)

However, web retargeting won out in other ways:

  • CTR higher (FBX was -40.18% lower), requiring less ad frequency to drive attention and clicks
  • Cost-Per-Unique was lower (FBX was +86% higher), indicating web retargeting reaches a larger, more distinct audience for less spend

Most surprising, when we compared audience overlap among the campaigns, we found that, on average, only 8.3% of an advertiser’s total audience was retargeted to by both their FBX and their standard web retargeting campaigns.

Our research showed that both web retargeting and Facebook Exchange have their strengths and are incremental to one another. We found that by leveraging both platforms for retargeting campaigns, advertisers can maximize their return on investment. To do otherwise would be leaving money on the table!

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