IBM, Facebook team on marketing analytics mashup

May 6, 2015, 4:05 AM UTC
IBM - Jon Simon/Feature Photo Service
Photograph by IBM - Jon Simon/Feature Photo

IBM just signed another significant data partner, Facebook. The collaboration addresses the holy grail of all marketers—making campaigns more personal with the right message, delivered at just the right moment.

In simple terms, the initial focus of the alliance is on combining data: it makes Facebook’s Custom Audience insights available to brands that use IBM’s Marketing Cloud to manage campaigns.

For example, an athletic apparel retailer interested in promoting shoes to long-distance runners could use Facebook’s segment metrics along with location-specific information—such as local weather patterns or whether a person is physically near a store—to identify potential targets. Those metrics can then be evaluated against a marketing team’s own proprietary data, such as the date that a specific prospect bought new shoes, how many times that person has visited its web site, or even how many times he or she has called customer service.

“This isn’t about running personalized email campaigns. It’s about having a conversation that is both personalized and in context,” said Deepak Advani, general manager for IBM Commerce.

IBM and Facebook began working together actively in January, when Advani was named to his current position after running some of IBM’s cloud services. The analytics capabilities described above are just the beginning; Advani says several brands already use this intelligence, although he wasn’t at liberty to disclose their names when we chatted. The two companies will develop more services through a research initiative, IBM Commerce THINKLab, focused on developing additional personalization technologies and approaches.

Facebook has a pretty basic motive: it wants the ads on Facebook to be more useful for members. “For us, having better, more relevant ads for consumers is very, very important,” said Blake Chandlee, vice president of partnerships for Facebook.

For its part, IBM hopes the alliance will give marketers another reason to use IBM’s Marketing Cloud applications, rather than competitive solutions from the likes of Adobe, Marketo or Salesforce. Marketo announced a similar alliance with LinkedIn in mid-April, with an explicit focus on business-to-business lead generation.

The Facebook relationship echoes the partnership IBM announced with Twitter last fall, although the latter relationship is far broader.

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