Posted: Thursday 25th August 2016 in Owned and earned media, Paid Media, Retail Strategy, Thought Leadership.

With over 1.65bn users globally each month, the reach and influence of Facebook is staggering. When you add in the 1bn Whatsapp and Messenger users apiece, plus the 500m on Instagram, the figure becomes even more eye watering.

Industry figures tell us that 60% of all UK internet browsing is now on mobile, and 1 in 4 of these internet minutes are spent on Facebook and Instagram.

Subsequently 85% of time spent on your mobile is spent in apps. 84% of that time is spent in just 5 non-native (downloaded) apps, and Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp make up a large proportion of this.

In fact, so much time is spent on Facebook and Instagram on mobile, that if you combined the time spent on any combination of the other major mobile platforms; Google, YouTube, eBay etc., you still wouldn’t surpass Facebook and Instagram consumption.

Facebook, with an estimated daily audience in the UK of 29m, (27m on mobile), also compares favourably to TV. Sky draws in 18.2m, ITV 16.8m and Channel 4 just 10.8m in comparison. The crown jewel that is BBC 1, although not a means for ad exposure, has a daily audience of around 27m; still almost 7% less than Facebook.

The only way for ‘customer first’?

Agencies and retailers alike are increasingly talking about a ‘customer first’ approach, but how can this really be put into practice without Facebook? Especially when you consider that the strategy is built upon cookie stitching, keywords and assumptions.

Facebook, although now a mobile first channel, is truly cross device. A single user may have a work phone, personal phone, laptop and iPad, and chances are all will be connected to Facebook. The ‘Facebook pixel’, a single onsite pixel that can track just about anything, from searched terms to visit frequency, provides the ability to track a single user across their various devices, wherever they are in the world.









Interactions outside the Facebook landscape can be integrated too, through CRM and email data. This creates opportunities for marketers to reach their customers throughout the journey with a consistent message; providing a single view of the customer and supporting the execution of a customer first strategy.

How can Google compete?

Google+ seemed to be Google’s initial attempt to move into a single customer view, with users logged in across various devices. This didn’t really take off to the scale required to compete.

Plan B seems to be having users logged across their various properties – YouTube, Gmail, Apps etc. – which is a step closer to this aim. Coupled with “Customer Match” it provides a feasible solution, but the scale isn’t large enough to be a robust alternative to Facebook, yet. It’s certainly the direction Google are moving towards, and with some vigour too.

What’s next?

Facebook are continuing to significantly invest in and develop their direct response (DR) ad proposition offering, alongside the global initiatives such as Aquila; the unmanned solar powered drone providing internet access to remote parts of the world.

However, Aquila aside, they know the opportunity is there for DR in the UK. Previously seen as a tool for awareness and engagement, this is no longer the case. With tests arriving thick and fast, including the development of online/offline measurement tools and store visits metrics, they are making significant strides at an accelerated rate.

With retailers keen to move to a customer first approach and the industry being more familiar with ads and shopping on Facebook, no one is better placed in the industry to capitalise on this.

If they don’t, Google eventually will.


Facebook internal data, Q2 2016
BARB viewing figures- Dec 2015
ComScore, ‘Time Spent on Smartphones, UK’, May 2015
Forrester Media, 2015