Facebook mines for offline data on users in new partnership as it looks to grow local ad revenue

Will Easton


Facebook has struck a deal with three offline data providers in a bid to offer advertisers deeper consumer insights, as the social giant seeks to continue its sustained growth in ad revenue locally.

The social giant has recruited Quantium, Experian and Acxiom as it looks to marry up its users’ offline habits with its trove of online information and allow advertisers to better target their campaigns using the new Category Partners offering.

Media agency spend data shows Facebook’s revenues from them grew more than 70 per cent last year, with suggestions this new play is an attempt to further eat into Google’s online ad spend dominance.

However outgoing managing director Will Easton was keen to play down that suggestion, saying: “The core reason for launching these products in Australia is about giving our advertisers a better experience.”

“It is less about challenging anyone else,” said Easton. “We don’t think about it as a competitive advantage. This is going to provide them with an advertising solution they have not seen before.”

The Standard Media Index figures show Facebook grew agency revenue by $42.7m last financial year, to $101.6m – the second largest rise in digital revenues.

Google moved its agency spend by $88.9m to $455.4m according to the data. However, it should be noted that SMI does not count direct spend between clients and Facebook or Google.

facebookAustralia is the fifth market in the world to launch the new data play with Nestle, Suncorp and Reckitts Benckiser among the major brands who will be using it from launch.

Easton said today’s move was about “supercharging” the ability of marketers to target niche audiences.

“We have established a fantastic platform in Australia based on our previous targeting capabilities – your age, gender etc. What we are doing now is taking the most powerful data sets in Australia – Acxiom, Quantium and Experian and giving advertisers and agencies access to that on the Facebook platform,” he said.

“We are supercharging our capabilities to help advertisers connect with the audiences that matter to them in a way that historically hasn’t been done in this market before.”

Asked about the potential for consumer backlash over privacy concerns Spencer Smith global data partnerships lead on the project said: “We take privacy very seriously and we want to give users more control.

“We are already in the US, UK, France and Germany (with partner categories) and we have seen a good response.”

Smith cited the platform’s ad preferences function which allows consumers to see why they are receiving an advertisement and opt out if they so choose.

“Ad preferences is one space where Facebook is helping lead by giving consumers more information,” he said.

“We have built privacy into this de-identifying it and ensuring transparency and control. In the case of Partner categories they will be told they are being targeted because they are in a group from Acxiom, Qantium or Experian and will give you a link to opt out from marketing from that partner.”

Screenshot of some of the deeper categories under Partner Categories

Screenshot of some of the deeper categories under Partner Categories. Click to enlarge

All Australian advertisers and their agencies will be able to access the product locally from August 3 with Nestle among the first to trial it for its Purina product.

“Our recent campaign for using Partner Categories on Facebook allowed us, for the very first time, to target actual pet owners, not just animal lovers – there’s a lot of cute cats on the internet after all,” said Antonia Farquhar, head of media and digital.

“The results have been fantastic, and set a new precedent in how we find our consumers on Facebook.”

Easton claimed that the deeper data category would come at “no additional cost” for advertisers however, when asked about whether Facebook’s auction system would see ad rates go up to hit certain niche audiences, he said: “Not that we have seen so far.

“I think we are too early to make a statement on that.”

Facebook declined to comment on the nature of the commercial relationship and revenue sharing model between them and the three data partners.

Nic Christensen 


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.