“We are heading to a nuclear catastrophe, climate change is inevitable, while everyone is hunched over their devices”

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On the 100 year anniversary of the United State’s annexation of the Phillipines and Guam,  Greater San Francisco historian and geographer Gray Brechin published Imperial San Francisco, his account of the city that at the end of the 19th century staked its reputation and milked the federal purse on the promise of its destiny to inherit the Westward Course of Empire Taking its Way.

At the height of the dot-com bubble, with indigenous digital technology striking out across the globe,  Brechin documented that bygone triumphalism, and mapped the deployment of the fortunes of the city’s leading plutocrats toward bringing about that destiny. His book spent 16 weeks on the bestseller list of the San Francisco Chronicle – a publication the history and origins of which the book tells in uncomfortable detail. (The Chronicle panned the book in its review.) It’s been a staple in the San Francisco section of local bookstores since, though now has passed into print-to-order status.

On the hundred year anniversary of the 1906 Earthquake, Brechin added an updated preface, in which he wrote:

“I’d used San Francisco as a case study of how imperial cities parasitize their hinterlands for the benefit of those who own their land and much else besides – especially the channels of information that shape perceived reality for millions. That city’s magnates hoped to make it the new Rome or New York of the Pacific, but San Francisco, of itself and for all its charm, was a failed star, an also-ran in the firmament of truly imperial cities.” 

On a recent Wednesday afternoon I caught up with Brechin, 100 years after the Panama Pacific International Exhibition where the leading capitalists of a rebuilt San Francisco declared Asia their imperial oyster with a copious bombast about the city’s endemic entrepreneurship and showcasing the wonders of technology (and the myth of the impending global conquest of the Aryan American race, an idea which the city’s leaders proudly and frequently extolled, and even engraved into their monuments, many of which remain but carry plaques saying, essentially, sorry)…

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Facebook Improves Ad Options to Help Retailers Heading Into the Holiday Shopping Season

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The way people shop has changed, says Facebook. People are spending more time on mobile devices and less time on their desktop PC, and the time spent on mobile is usually within apps. To help retailers capitalize on this trend and reach the widest potential audience with their ads, earlier this year Facebook introduced Dynamic Product Ads. Via this type of ad offering, marketers are able to upload their entire product catalog and create campaigns targeting certain products to specific audiences – or, helpfully, you can let Facebook automatically deliver ads for the products most relevant to each user based on their online activity (like, for example, products that user has viewed on your website).

Facebook Improves Ad Options Help Retailers Heading Into the Holiday Shopping Season | Social Media TodayDynamic Product Ads have been a big hit with Facebook advertisers, they’ve been so successful, in fact, that Facebook is updating the Dynamic Product Ad offering, adding cross-selling functionality, conversion optimization and making them available in apps via Facebook’s Audience Network. Here’s how the new features will work.  

Complimentary Knowledge

One of the main strengths of Dynamic Product Ads is the ability to show similar products to people who’ve viewed an item on your website or added a product to their cart. With the new update, marketers will also be able to use this option to show related products to people who’ve actually purchased an item. From the Facebook blog:

So if someone purchases a bike on your website, you can start showing them product ads featuring complementary items, like bike helmets and baskets, since they may be interested in those products too.”

Advertisers will also have more options to control what items are considered related – the example Facebook uses on this is a retailer selling designer shoes who might also want to show shoppers designer handbags instead of (or as well as) more shoes. By providing additional control in this regard, Facebook is giving advertisers more capacity to improve the functionality of their Dynamic Product Ads in order to capitalize on their unique audience knowledge regarding buyer behaviors.

Conversion Targeting

Facebook is also improving its targeting options for Dynamic Product Ads, giving advertisers the option to optimize for conversions, as opposed to clicks. Activating this option will direct Facebook’s ad delivery system to target users who are more likely to buy the product, as opposed to those most likely to just click. While the distinction may seem illogical – of course, you always want to reach the people who’re more likely to buy – utilizing this option puts your results more into the hands of Facebook’s targeting system. So rather than reaching the widest possible audience, you’ll be reaching fewer people, but those users should, theoretically, be more likely to become paying customers.

Facebook says early testing of this option has delivered more efficient spend that CPC.

Facebook Improves Ad Options Help Retailers Heading Into the Holiday Shopping Season | Social Media Today

Wider Audience

Facebook is also making Dynamic Product Ads available in apps via their Audience Network ad platform. Audience Network enables advertisers to reach app users with better, more refined in-app ad options, including banners, interstitials and customizable native ads formats. In a separate post, Facebook announced this update along with various other new additions to the suite of Audience Network ad options.

The addition of Dynamic Product Ads in this context will help advertisers reach a wider audience with more engaging and focused ad types.

In Practice

Clearly Dynamic Product Ads have resonated for some advertisers, and you can see how such an offering would work for an art retailer like JUNIQE, which Facebook highlights as a success story in the announcement post, noting that they’ve increased conversion rates by 50% while reducing cost per purchase by 63% using Dynamic Product Ads.

Facebook Improves Ad Options Help Retailers Heading Into the Holiday Shopping Season | Social Media Today

Dynamic product ads combine the strengths of Facebook in one ad format—a highly targeted audience with highly relevant creative. Since each user sees unique creative with products they’ve actually looked at enriched with recommendations, they are much more likely to convert at a cheaper CPA compared to other ad formats. Dynamic Image Templates from Smartly.io allowed us to personalize the creatives even further resulting in a scalable solution for beautiful creatives previously not possible in product-based retargeting.” – Sebastian Hasebrink, Co-founder, JUNIQE

Being able to scroll through multiple image options makes perfect sense for a brand like this, it’s a perfect fit for this type of marketing. Examples like this highlight just how the option can be used effectively, particularly for retailers looking to showcase several variations of their offerings.  

And with the holiday shopping season fast approaching, Facebook takes the opportunity to highlight the need to focus on reaching the most relevant audience:

“…last year during the holidays, 56% of in-store sales were influenced by mobile. As people change how they browse and discover products, advertisers need new ways to showcase products in the places where people are discovering them. Many advertisers are turning to Facebook to do so.”

It’s an obviously biased, but relevant observation, with more people using their mobile devices as a shopping companion, and with Facebook hosting the largest audience, it makes sense to be considering Facebook’s ad options in this regard. 

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