Profile: Jeremy Gilley

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Doubts over Facebook’s Reach Generator

Brands have been reluctant to trial Facebook’s much-trumpeted new “reach generator” ad format, with only a handful of UK companies signing up to use it in the two months since its launch, insiders have told Marketing Week.

Facebook

Reach Generator guarantees that brands reach 75% of their fans each month with their posts rather than the average 16%.  

Brands pay on an on-going basis for the format, which sees their posts automatically distributed by Facebook to fans as a sponsored story on the right-hand side of their homepage or in their news feed on desktop or mobile.

Facebook has heavily promoted the format to brands and agencies via a series of marketers’ conferences in Europe, Asia, the US and South America, including an event in the UK on 28 March.

The slow uptake of the long-term revenue generating format could be worrying to Facebook, which has embarked on a roadshow to attract investors to the company ahead of its forthcoming IPO.

A source close to Facebook told Marketing Week: “Reach Generator is in a bit of a lag phase; people are still trying to get their heads around understanding what that ‘16%’ number actually means. Another factor is the always-on subscription model - it’s expensive.”

He adds that he only knows of two brands that have signed up to use Reach Generator in the UK so far, beyond Facebook’s initial test brands, which included O2.

Many brands and agencies are still waiting for Facebook to prove the value of their posts being seen by more of their fans more often, according to one senior digital expert.

She adds: “Perhaps brands and agencies are becoming more sensitive to the effect on engagement levels [because] it moves the onus from quality of content onto a purely paid direction. Or, that they have already invested in acquiring fans and are less keen to pay again to reach them.”

Robin Grant, global managing director of We Are Social, says Reach Generator is a “blunt instrument” which promotes every post for a monthly fee, which can be seen as inefficient compared to promoting the more important stories.

“Facebook finds itself faced with a media agency landscape that just isn’t geared up to take a conversational approach to marketing - it’s as if media agencies woke up to find that their media plans are based on Newtonian physics in a world where quantum theory reigns,” he adds.

A Facebook spokeswoman did not answer specific questions on brands’ slow uptake of the format, but said: “Reach Generator was launched at fMC (Facebook Marketers Conference) at the end of February and we already have some great examples of this working well for brands.

“This product is most effective when it is used alongside the other tools that Facebook offers. For example, once a brand has built a following and is creating engaging content, then Reach Generator is a great tool to take that to a wider audience.”

O2 was one of the companies cited by Facebook at its London marketing conference as having used Reach Generator effectively. The social network claims O2 has seen a 102% increase in incremental fan reach by using Reach Generator.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Why would you suddenly want to pay to reach your fans that you have worked so hard to get to like your page in the first place, I thought that was the point, that by liking your page, they got your content?

    The only reason that your pages posts reach 16% of your fans is because Facebook made it that way with a clever little algorithm.

    This may be why businesses are so unwilling to try out this method, because Facebook has lured them into a false sense of security by making you think that getting people to like your page, means that your future posts will reach them.

    Where on earth did Facebook publicise that for every one hundred people you got on your page, you could reach just 16 of them? If they did no business would have ever bothered with them.

    I don't know any other form of customer building system where your provider suddenly chops you off from 85% of your customer base. If a brand has twenty-thousand or even twenty million fans that used Facebook's 'like' system to say 'I want all this pages future content', then why should Facebook break down the relationship to purely satisfy itself financially'.

    Facebook will lose a lot of faith from brands that have supported them and built massive fan bases so far who now see the site as a money spinning machine. Who could help but feel that every time people find a clever way to gain mass engagement they will shut it down and find a way to charge everyone to do it in future.

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