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The key to Partner Categories success: it's the targeting, stupid

Published: July 29, 2013

Author: Clark Sioson

You’ve all heard about Partner Categories, the slow-released feature introduced in April that partners Facebook data with data from third-party firms Acxiom, Datalogix, and Epsilon. The result: advertisers were provided with over 500 targeting categories associated with things like purchase history, purchase intent, job role, and lifestyle.
So, three months in, how has it performed?
In my campaigns, Partner Categories has not had the same positive impact (as a stand-alone option, at least) as Custom Audiences and look-alike audiences. CAT and lookalike targeting have generally provided better CPAs than Partner Categories, but that’s not to say PCs aren’t valuable – especially with a reach of over 42 million.
The trick to unlocking the value: use partner categories as an additional layer to precise interests targeting. We all know by now that hyper-targeted Facebook ads provide the highest ROI, and Partner Categories adds an extra layer of granularity – if not intent, we can call it purchasing readiness.
Let’s break down an example.
Is someone who likes the Huggies Facebook page more inclined to purchase baby products? Maybe. Or they just like cute babies:

huggies facebook page
Everyone thinks this kid is cute, but it doesn’t mean we’re all buying diapers.

But if you combine that interest for that particular brand with people who have actually purchased products in that category (which Partner Categories can tell us), then bam.
In this case, the partner category “baby products” is described as “people who have spent heavily in baby monitors, strollers, bedding, and diapers.” So you have just narrowed down your target to someone who likes a product page AND someone who has actually purchased something similar.
That is an extremely precise target. And there are 42 million targets teed up for that kind of focus.

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