Facebook Messenger Wants To Give Retargeting A Makeover

Retargeting is largely associated with product ads that stalk users across the internet.

But Facebook sees retargeting as a tactic that can open the door to ongoing engagement within Messenger.

Ted Helwick, the Facebook product manager leading monetization efforts on Messenger, told AdExchanger that “the KPI advertisers tell us they care about most right now is getting users to reply and engage in messages.”

Starting this week, advertisers have the ability to target Messenger ads, which Facebook began testing in July, to optimize for replies and conversations.

Targeting by objective fits with Facebook’s plan to insinuate Messenger into more of the customer journey, from awareness and acquisition to customer service and re-engagement.

In addition to Messenger ads that click directly into conversations, Messenger’s expanding suite of advertising products includes sponsored messages that retarget users and bring them back into existing chats.

But brands also are starting to look at Messenger as a channel for transactions.

American Eagle Outfitters, which created two bots to drum up awareness and sales during the back-to-school and holiday seasons, for example, was mostly focused on generating engagement within Messenger.

The hope now is to move on from the “softer sell” and start driving actual sales, said Kristen D’Arcy, head of performance digital marketing at American Eagle Outfitters.

That’s why the Messenger monetization team is particularly “bullish” on sponsored messages, Helwick said. Brands like American Eagle can start to capitalize on the equity and engagement they’ve built with their audience on Messenger over time.

When brands make the effort to build relationships with their customers and provide helpful customer service within Messenger, it gives them “the right to actually push new products,” said David Marcus, Facebook’s VP of messaging products.

Because it’s one thing to open a conversation with consumers on Messenger, and it’s another thing to keep that conversation going, Marcus said.

Which is where retargeting comes in.

Retargeting is “a way to get your business objective delivered to you,” Marcus said. “You can talk to your customer until you get to the finish line.”

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