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The Ultimate Guide to Retargeting Facebook Ads

James Parsons • Updated on September 21, 2022
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The launch of Facebook Exchange (FBX) in 2012 ushered in the first real ad retargeting tool to be seen on a social networking site. For marketing specialists, FBX is perhaps the most robust tool available for bidding on ads in real-time. The social media site already considered the best in class for efficiency and effectiveness in search engine optimization (SEO) ad observation, Facebook increased the potential of online marketing in FBX leverage. With Exchange, ads now appeared in correlation with the right-hand sidebar placement available to advertising. What FBX has done for online marketing strategy, is nothing short of exponential visibility.

FBX Product Performance Reporting

The same year that FBX was in the final stages of development, Facebook had reached approximately 1.15 billion monthly active users. Of those users, about 700 million or 61% logged on daily. According to Facebook reporting, the initial performance of FBX advertising led to an exponential increase in demand for retargeting. The trend analysis of the retargeting of ad placement from the right-hand sidebar to the News Feed showed a 197% increase in return on investment.

Rationale for retargeting was justified by advertisers in response to the fact that the News Feed offered room for more engaging ad spots. The 21% conversion rate indicated that this assumption was true, and that retargeting afforded up to 49% conversion over the right-hand sidebar. The expansion of Facebook advertising in FBX News Feed placement has also been a cost savings for many advertisers. Data on cost-per-click (CPC) showed that on an average the retargeting strategy resulted in a 54% cost reduction.

Moreover, the response by advertisers that FBX News Feed ads offer a better than average model of customer churn, has won over new converts. Online marketing specialists are always looking for recapture of lost clients. The FBX News Feed seems to be exceptionally valuable as a tool for conversion of old customers once lost.

The History of FBX

Prior to the introduction of FBX, marketing strategists counted on the proficiency of Facebook’s search engine aggregation to generate the most observations in response to SEO and pay-per-click (PPC) marketing placement. In the old days, keyword placement was the buzz word. Advertisers depended on the professional expertise of online marketing specialists to create the best possible keyword indices for traffic generation. With the shift to FBX, online ad placement is less about keyword precision, and more about the channel marketing options of an automated tool.

We all assume that Facebook was one of the main places advertisers could find conversion. The fact that Facebook was already responsible for nearly 28% of all observations in the US by 2012 supported the development and launch of FBX as a primary source for online advertising. If the main goal of an online advertising campaign is to increase conversion of SEO and PPC ‘clicks’ to website homepage visitation and ultimately point-of-sale (POS), the channel marketing strategy afforded in the synchronized FBX multi-scale online ad platform far exceeds anything known before. FBX ads can now be observed within the News Feed section of the social network member interface.

The Benefits of FBX


Where Facebook had an edge over competitors in the online advertising segment, can be especially seen in the social networking site’s reporting analytics. Indeed, Facebook Analytics traffic monitoring capabilities are some of the most used reporting tools by professional marketing specialists. Tracking third-party information about websites visited from the Facebook interface allows for continuous monitoring of channel marketing activity.

The extension of Facebook Analytics to other external sites after clicking on an initial website, means that data conversion is mapped in a way in which market research analysts can create an in depth retarget strategy. Facebook members visiting a third-party site direct from the social network platform, will see similar offerings on the next visit to their profile news feed.

Determination of how to retarget online ads to generate repeat visits to a client website is one of the best methods of creating customer churn. When marketing strategists seek advice about optimizing search retargeting efforts, Facebook Ad Exchange (FBX) is perhaps the most vital tool seen yet. Still, there are other methods of retargeting available to marketing pros.

The ‘3’ Retargeting Strategies

Here are three retargeting strategies used in online marketing campaigns today.

1. Traditional Retargeting

Search Retargeting is channel marketing used to capture audience reception. When a SEO or PPC ad is first placed in a traditional strategy, keywords largely control the performance of each ad spot in an online campaign. The initial years of online advertising targeted top-level, first page SEO performance on global search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo! Search retargeting of unsuccessful ad spots was achieved by changing keywords.

If a particular ad in an advertiser’s online marketing campaign was not performing as expected, retargeting consisted of building new keywords for re-launch of that ad spot. Site Retargeting was nearly impossible. Search engine marketing tools (SEM) were the core of the traditional model. SEM made PPC possible, so that on-demand performance supported the purchase of ads through real-time bidding rather than upfront cost.

2. Facebook FBX

The potential for site retargeting as well as search retargeting made possible by Facebook FBX has led to the anonymous capture of millions of Facebook users. Keywords still play a role in this process. Advertisers select keyword-specific drivers to their social advertising campaign to build more value into placement Marketers can use Facebook search data to generate target interest in an individual ad on the site. Facebook also boosts the potential that an advertiser is reaching past site visitors with new ads forging continuity of brand identity. If FBX literally redefined Search Retargeting in the social media sphere, it is because of the incredible leverage the tool provides over other online advertising platforms.

3. The Outliers

Marketing professionals specializing in online advertising strategy acknowledge that some clients are confused about the difference between site retargeting and search retargeting. From point of conception to point of execution and finally conversion, the practice of targeting past visitors is a relevant endeavor. Site retargeting should be a piece of an online marketing campaign, yet should not overwhelm the vast opportunity found in new customer contact. Design ads that can be displayed in various placement locations. Search retargeting is a tactic dedicated to acquisition of new customers. Analytics are an important tool for calculating the performance on an online advertising campaign. If a marketing professional focuses solely on measuring clicks, however, the total effect of an online advertising campaign may not be apparent.

The impact that a SEO or PPC online ad plays in the new customer conversion process to POS cannot be underestimated. If careful attention is not paid to return customer issues, the significant power of ad content and placement of spots in an online advertising campaign performance may be overlooked. Delays in conversion pose another problem. The challenge of tracking online customers over extended periods of time is now more measurable than before with tools like Facebook FBX, but still arbitrary for a number of reasons. Reliable search data is the key to optimum retargeting strategy. Search Retargeting does much to serve each individual visitor the perfect ad experience.


  1. Malcolm


    Thanks, I kept reading everywhere about these but had no clue what they were talking about! Cheers

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