Satrajit Sen

Facebook: Bandwidth Targeting

Facebook's new global targeting capability for advertisers enables the latter to reach people based on the type of network connection they use.

India may be Facebook's second-biggest market - after the US - in terms of user base but it contributes only 0.1 per cent to the social media giant's ad revenue of $2.7 billion.

Facebook has 1.32 billion users across the globe and its India user base stands at 108 million. Facebook's global revenues during April-June 2014 were $2.9 billion, of which $2.7 billion came from advertising. To get its India show moving, Facebook has launched a bouquet of features targeted at the Indian advertiser. Its most recent introduction is the global targeting capability, that enables advertisers to reach people based on the type of network connection they usually use - be it 2G, 3G or 4G - when accessing the platform. Called 'Bandwidth Targeting', the feature is available globally via the Ad Create tool, Power Editor and the API tool on the platform.

Many faces

Facebook: Bandwidth Targeting
Facebook already offers the option to reach people based on the type of device they use (smart phones, feature phones and tablets), as well as device model and operating system. However, advertisers also told Facebook that segmentation based on the type of network connection would help them create better an ad experience.

For example, streamline a brand's latest ad on Facebook can't be done for a consumer who might own a high-end smart phone but is not present on a 3G network - the video won't stream smoothly. In such a case, the bandwidth targeting feature comes handy for advertisers, where they can show just a picture related to the ad and redirect the user to their brand's mobile site.

Targeting the handset-type is not enough, particularly in high-growth countries, where people are moving online at a staggering rate. A majority of them access the internet via mobile networks but internet speeds can vary as the infrastructure there is constantly changing. This fragmented environment makes it difficult for businesses to reach people on their mobile devices.

Creative technology

Targeting by mobile network type helps advertisers choose creative that will run smoothly on any given device and connection speed. The selection of a particular platform to advertise on depends on whether it's audience is on it. Thereby, all media outlets and platforms continuously strive to reach out to larger set of audience and engage with them.

Facebook: Bandwidth Targeting
Facebook: Bandwidth Targeting
Facebook: Bandwidth Targeting
Facebook: Bandwidth Targeting
"By providing advertisers with bandwidth based targeting, Facebook is telling marketers that they can now create different kinds of creative (in terms of file size and rich media use) based on the internet connection speed available to the user. This will ensure that users are able to see the brand message clearly given their bandwidth package. This means that Facebook doesn't lose out on the digital spends of brands," states Nimesh Shah, head, Windchimes Communication.

With the new capability, marketers can deliver creatives tailored to device and access speed and build the best experience with people, especially in high-growth markets where limited data plans and feature phones are common. Optimising the creative - for instance, targeting a video campaign to people with high-speed connections, and swapping an image or link ad for people with slower connections - means that ads can perform more efficiently for the people seeing them.

Advertisers like Vodafone (in India) are looking forward to it. "We are excited because it allows us sharper targeting to a relevant audience. We hope to see more such technology innovations across the industry," says Ronita Mitra, senior vice president, Brand Communication, Insights and Online, Vodafone India.

Paying attention to details of how people are connecting can also help advertisers craft more compelling, localised campaigns. Consider the case of a device manufacturer in India, who is launching a new model designed for first-time smart phone buyers. In order to reach people who may be ready to upgrade their phone, the manufacturer might want to reach an audience of people that use feature phones and also have access to a 3G or 4G network.

Besides telecom, different advertisers would love this feature and use it in different manner. "Telecom companies could use it to target customers to upgrade, FMCGs will use it to target Tier III or rural customers with low bandwidth usage and DTH companies could use it for the upcoming DAS3 and 4 digitisation," says Rajiv Dingra, CEO, WatConsult.


Digital advertising is about sharp targeting. So knowing the kind of internet access speeds a person has, the kind of device he is using and now, the kind of bandwidth he is using, helps an advertiser to ensure the right content and communication, to the right person.

Any additional data point that helps a marketer define the demographic, psychographic or SEC of a customer is useful for media planning, especially when most marketers in India still prefer traditional forms of targeting based on age, gender, location and income. "Bandwidth defines a certain demography of users, just as a device does. So for certain brands and products, the bandwidth itself may enable them to target that audience," opines Sanjay Mehta, joint CEO, Social Wavelength.

The new feature also gives marketers an opportunity to be more creative with their Facebook ads and get the satisfaction that they have reached out to their audience independent of their connection. "Brand custodians have to ensure that the message isn't changed or has become less effective simply because of the change in creative and delivery mechanism. Both digital agencies and their clients will have to detail out the ads more and spend more time in media planning," says Shah.

It will also make digital agencies look at creating multiple creative formats for the same message for different audiences based on the bandwidth segmentation and thus create multiple media options around the same brand message. This development is in line with Facebook's plans to build customised advertising experiences for people in high-growth countries.

The India view

"People want fast, efficient experiences on their phones. Our hope is that mobile network targeting can improve the experience people have with Facebook ads by helping advertisers deliver the right experience while respecting people's device bandwidth and data costs," said Facebook in a communiqué.

So, with this feature, will Indian advertisers be keen to create two sets of creatives to be used on Facebook for the same campaign, especially when the usual method is to repeat the same creative across platforms?

It is clear that today, most advertising on digital/social media needs multiple creatives for the same campaign. So making separate sets on the basis of bandwidth will not add too much new work to a mature digital advertiser. "Of course, there is the "lazy marketing" way of doing digital marketing, which is to create just one or a very limited number of advertising creatives and use them. However that does not work. The days of lazy marketing - with a possible legacy from mainline advertising - are long gone. Hard work (read "lots of slicing and dicing, and corresponding multiple creatives") is the order of the day," states Mehta.

Today, advertisers are continuously making choices on how best to reach out to their customers. If they feel that there are better media options available to reach out to 2G users than Facebook, they will opt for that. By providing this option, Facebook is hoping that it doesn't lose out.

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