Facebook’s advertising platform has quickly become one of the most valuable tools for reaching fans and customers. To understand Facebook’s role in shaping the world of digital marketing, we wanted to give a brief insight into the evolution of social targeting and advertising.

In 1836, the French newspaper called La Presse decided to sell advertising space in order to lower the price of the paper. By lowering the price of the paper, La Presse was able to be purchased and read by more people. This increased the paper’s audience and popularity. As the readership of La Presse grew larger, the paper could charge advertisers more to reach their readers. This was the first record of paid advertising.

Source: andreas.com

Other publications were quick to follow and advertising became widely adopted across the industry.

Traditional media advertising models have been relatively consistent for decades. Channels like print and radio have provided businesses and brands access to a wide array of consumers. By paying to leverage these channels, businesses were able to place their products, content, and ideas in front of consumers and drive more sales.

Until recently, advertising campaigns were designed to build brands, generate awareness, and promote discounts. There weren’t, however, reliable mechanisms to measure real sales or conversions.

The internet changed this, bringing physical ads into the digital world. In just a few years, businesses were able to track how consumers discovered and eventually bought or consumed what was advertised. Fueled by data, advertising quickly evolved into a much more targeted and persuasive form of paid marketing.

The first groundbreaking internet ad product was launched by Google in 2000. Google knew that billions of people were typing in searches for products and content they were interested in. With AdWords, Google was able to provide advertisers with the ability to place their product among these search results. This proved to be one of the first times advertising leveraged behavioral targeting. More people discovered products that fit their interests and, in turn, businesses started seeing more people buy their products.

Google also designed AdWords and AdSense as self-service products to accommodate small businesses and those who wanted to manage their own campaigns. This opened up the platform to every business owner or creative to use. This approach by Google proved to be significant in making digital advertising mainstream and accessible.

While Google’s paid search model is still a valuable way to market to users online, Facebook has been able to mine much richer user data due to the social nature of their platform. When billions of people update their personal networks with every single detail about their lives, Facebook scores an indisputable advantage in providing advertisers with a way to reach their target customers.

Facebook’s First Ads, Source: Mashable

Although Facebook’s advertising platform had humble beginnings in the form of clunky banner ads, they’ve quickly become the cheapest and most effective way to advertise online today.

A little over a decade ago, the world knew nothing of social advertising. In 2005, Kevin Colleran, the first ad guy at Facebook, introduced the concept of social customer acquisition. Facebook began leveraging user data to get relevant ads in front of the right users, selling ads on a cost-per-acquisition basis. This strategy proved a success, and over the next few years, Facebook would invent the de facto advertising technology for businesses to find and connect with the right customers.

Their goal was to make advertisements feel like a natural extension of the user experience. Facebook allowed advertisers to place their products between stories that people found meaningful. This ties emotional responses to potentially triggering purchasing behaviors. With Facebook’s ad platform, businesses can easily tap into the right News Feeds, reaching the most likely buyers online.

In 2009, new targeting features allowed businesses to segment users based on language, gender, workplace, geographic location, education level, age, relationship status, and even profile keywords. The level of granularity in hyper-targeting became a completely new way to find and reach consumers. Furthermore, by being able to target across an array of user characteristics, marketers could effectively reach the right people at the right time.

This ability to track conversions makes it easier for marketers to measure which ads are performing best and optimize their campaigns for higher click-through rates. These campaigns perform better by getting the best ads in front of the right people, ultimately helping marketers realize their target ad spend ROI.

As of July 2016, Facebook passed over 1.71 billion monthly active users, 1.57 billion mobile active users, and 1.13 billion daily users. These numbersrepresent the huge potential market for targeted advertising. With hundreds of thousands of people joining Facebook every day, these numbers will continue to increase.

Source: Facebook

Advertising is leading the revenue growth and Facebook continues to onboard new advertisers every day. At the end of last year, Facebook shocked Wall Street and reported their Q4 earnings of $5.8 Billion. This demonstrates the magnitude of the changes happening in the marketing industry. Entrepreneurs, developers, musicians and other creators are beginning realize the importance of reaching their audiences online.

We believe that social platforms like Facebook will soon become the de facto channels for marketing and selling to consumers across the planet. By understanding the fundamentals of social targeting, you can easily reach and engage the people that truly matter to your brand.

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