Meta made its NewFronts debut in New York City on Tuesday with the expected fanfare of an evening designed to woo advertisers.
(The event took place on the top floor of the Fotografiska Museum on Park Avenue South, which happens to be located in the same building that Anna Delvey, the con artist immortalized in Netflix’s “Inventing Anna” miniseries, coveted as the headquarters of her never-to-be eponymous art foundation.)
Anyway, marketers from Wendy’s were on hand to extol the virtues of the metaverse, and a handful of Instagram influencers did their thing, including a live baking demonstration, a comedy routine and a pop-inspired trumpet performance.
Cue the stats: People spend 50% of their time on Facebook and Instagram watching video; two billion people watch videos on Facebook and Instagram that are eligible for in-stream ad monetization; more than half of US consumers purchased a new product in the past six months because of a creator’s recommendation; and Reels has become the biggest engagement growth driver on Instagram.
But what about signal loss and the impact of Apple’s privacy changes on Meta’s ability to target and measure ads and keep the targeted advertising flywheel spinning?
Give me a sign
It’s not surprising that AppTrackingTransparency and the end of third-party cookies on Chrome didn’t come up during the razzle-dazzle of Meta’s NewFronts presentation, but advertisers have been asking about both a lot, especially for brands focused on commerce, said Nada Stirratt, Meta’s VP of the Americas.
“Everyone is feeling it and so they’re eager to hear what we’re doing,” Stirratt told AdExchanger. “The tools we have are early lines of defense to make sure that small business owners and business owners of all sizes can find their audiences.”
Some of those tools include the Conversions API, which allows advertisers to share data directly from their server with Ads Manager, and aggregated events measurement, which helps track conversion events for people using iOS 14.5 or later devices.
But the creators using Meta’s portfolio of video offerings, including Reels, Stories and its AR filters, which were all heavily hyped during Meta’s NewFronts presentation, can also serve as a source of first-party signals.
For example, a cooking enthusiast that follows a chef on Instagram isn’t just a cooking enthusiast – she’s a known, and therefore targetable, cooking enthusiast.
“But this is not about any kind of data extraction from the relationship between creators and their audience,” Stirratt said. “The beauty of creators is that it’s a self-selected population that advertisers want to tap into.”
Staying on message
Self-selected as in first-party.
Being able to manage the headwinds from signal loss is directly tied to getting a deeper first-party understanding of “what people are interested in,” Mark Zuckerberg told investors on Meta’s Q1 earnings call in late April.
That can be done by making it easier for people to connect with businesses through Meta’s services, whether that’s via messaging on WhatsApp or Messenger or by completing a purchase on Facebook or Instagram.
On Wednesday, as a follow-up to several personalized messaging tools it released in September, Meta introduced a handful of new messaging-related tools and options across WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger, including the ability to create click-to-messaging ads directly from the WhatsApp Business app. Meta is also testing a new capability that will let businesses send marketing messages through Messenger to opted-in customers.
Click-to-messaging ads, which appear in-feed on Facebook and Instagram and prompt users to click to initiate a chat with a business on WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct, are already a multibillion-dollar business for Meta, with double-digit YoY growth in Q1, said Rich Rao, VP of Meta’s small business group.
“Over the last two years, we’ve seen business messaging play an increasingly important role in how people and businesses connect on our platform – more than 1 billion users are connecting with a business account across our messaging services every week,” Rao told AdExchanger. “That’s why we’re focusing on making it easier for businesses to use our messaging tools to connect with their customers in a personal way.”
With the added side benefit of insinuating itself into the purchase funnel.
On Meta’s Q1 call, COO Sheryl Sandberg specifically highlighted click-to-messaging ads as a key element of the company’s commerce ambitions, because they allow Meta to serve as the conduit for driving business outcomes.
“If our commerce efforts are successful over the longer term,” Sandberg said, “we’ll be able to close that loop directly on our end service.”