Amex boosts reach by building Facebook Pixels into native ads

Work with Sharethrough will add more than 20 million uniques a month

American Express says it will be able to reach more than 20 million additional Canadian unique visitors each month online via a retargeting strategy that combines Facebook Pixels and native advertising software from Sharethrough.

In what the company’s agency partner, Mindshare Canada, called a North American first, Facebook Pixels have been integrated within all Sharethrough ad units, with Facebook custom audience pools pulling in data from the native ad platform. Facebook Pixels automatically show ads to people most likely to convert via automated bidding process.

The Facebook Pixels, in turn, are fired anytime audiences engage with AmEx content within the Sharethrough network. These audiences are then remarketed with relevant content on Facebook. It means anyone who interacts with the firm’s content across the entire Sharethrough network will be pulled into the Facebook audience framework that has been built in the ads manager.

According to Jessica Myers-Bendavid, a manager who leads social media strategy at American Express, the idea was born out of a desire to amplify the work the team was doing with influencer content around pillars like travel and entertainment.

“We found co-creating content with influencers was incredible but the shelf life and the reach by just having posts on their blog or on their Instagram was really small,” she said. “We were hitting their built-in audience which was great, but we were not really getting beyond that.”

Mindshare, meanwhile, regularly holds digital media sessions internally with vendors to discuss ways to better incorporate their tools into work the agency does with its customers. It was in one of those sessions, said Mindshare director of social media Brooke Robinson, that the idea was conceived to put a Facebook Pixel within a native ad unit.

“The beauty of that is we’re extending it out from the site,” she said, explaining that retargeting was previously available only to that property or the Amex Facebook page. “Being able to add that scale to what we’re already sharing, seeing how it draws the audience in and how they’re spending time with the brand means we can then go back to another platform and build them up. It’s huge.”

The project doesn’t just offer a way to innovate with technology but an opportunity to build on changes Amex has been making internally to better execute on its strategy. Until last year, Myers-Bendavid said, Amex had different social teams focused on content around its brand perspective, for example, and others that were focused on activation messaging. Amex has since introduced an approach it calls “holistic planning” that will approach social media across the full customer journey, “So they won’t be seeing messages in isolation and instead seeing a full story through product and eventually to acqustion in a more much connected way,” she said.

Robinson said the technical work was finalized near the end of June. “Now we’re basically collecting the information and seeing where the audiences are coming from,” she said.

Myers-Bendavid said no matter how the company works across Facebook, its site or the Sharethrough network, the emphasis is on strong content related to Amex member experiences.

“We’re not just talking about how this card gets this type of points and all these types of insurance, but immersing them in the experience and what it was like,” she said, giving the example of travellers who share details about staying a hotel and getting a credit for the spa or a late checkout because of their membership.

Robinson said Mindshare will be exploring the opportunities with other vendors including Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Snapchat to see how their technology might further support the same kinds of client objectives.


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