Binders full of Facebook fans: Offerpop launches two new tools to help brands monetize their audiences

By Nathaniel Mott , written on February 19, 2013

From The News Desk

Offerpop, a New York-based social marketing platform provider that counts Disney, Viacom, and Smirnoff, among others, as customers, is launching two new products today that will help brands learn more about, well, pretty much everyone.

Dubbed “Categories & Posts” and the “Fan Database,” these new tools, which will come standard with the company’s software-as-a-service marketing suite, quantify the impact of every shred of content a brand shares on social media — think an image, a deal, a survey, or whatever else the brand shares on Facebook — and the Facebook “fans” who interact with it.

Different types of content are often published with different goals. An image might simply remind Facebook fans that a company exists, while a deal is almost always posted to get someone to hurry up and buy something. Categories & Posts allows brands to build a database of all their content and see which are the most popular in terms of engagement, which drove the most sales, and so on.

“If I'm American Eagle [another Offerpop customer] and using Offerpop's Categories & Posts product, I'm probably going to be categorizing posts around holidays, I might categorize around product lines, and I might categorize posts that have a coupon associated with them as being a deal,” Offerpop CEO Wendall Lansford offers as an example. “By categorizing those posts I can understand that posts about deals tend to drive really little vitality, but they do a really good job of driving clicks onto the website.”

Categories & Posts are all about the brand, its content strategy, and what the brand’s audience did once they saw the image, deal, witty status update, or whatever. The Fan Database, which is also launching today, is all about learning everything there is to know about someone who interacts with the company on Facebook, ever.

“Anybody who is liking, commenting on, or sharing content will automatically have a profile built for them in the Fan Database,” Lansford says. Publicly available information, including a person’s profile picture, name, country, and age will be filled out automatically — Facebook doesn’t allow marketers to collect other information, Lansford says, but brands are able to keep any data they gather from a custom form. “Fans” can also opt to give brands further information from their Facebook profiles, including their Likes and interests.

Offerpop assigns each fan profile an Engagement Score — how likely they are to interact with certain types of content — and a Loyalty Score, which is how regularly they engage with that content, in addition to the other, searchable data. This allows brands to filter their Facebook fans by gender, age, country, and what type of content they typically respond to and how often they respond to it. (In a way, this heavy filtering reminds me of Facebook’s own Graph Search, which my colleague Erin Griffith described as a tool for marketers itself.)

My first reaction to the Fan Database, as someone who watches friends and family members engage with companies on Facebook, was uneasiness. Sure, much of this data is available on the Web already (don’t get me started), and Lansford says that Offerpop has taken great pains to meeting privacy standards around the world. But there’s something weird about knowing that my fiancee probably has a profile filled with all kinds of information that she may not even know she shared.

Lansford says that all private data gathered through Offerpop is “very clearly marked as opt-in,” and that “[Privacy is] a sensitive topic, and one that we think a lot about. But at the end of the day, if consumers are having experiences that break their trust, that's not good for anybody."

Put another way: Brands won’t abuse their power — not because they don’t want to, but because it’s worse to break trust and alienate a customer than to let that precious data slip by. Call it “capitalism as insurance.”

But let’s be honest. These brands are all lusting after all the data they can get, and if it weren’t Offerpop helping them find a way to quantify everything about their social media presence, it would be someone else. Consumers are, ostensibly, aware of what they’re doing every time they fill out a form or engage with a brand. Right now that’s about anything anyone can ask for.

[Illustration by Hallie Bateman]