Facebook is now letting businesses plug in CRM email addresses

In recent times, Facebook shares have taken a fairly regular beating, and in the last few days are sitting around 40% below their original price of US$38, leaving Facebook looking desperately skyward for any and all opportunities to improve their platform for businesses and ultimately revenue.

Following Zuckerberg’s recent talk at TechCrunch Disrupt the stock has risen somewhat (albeit still low compared to the original price) based on getting investors excited about his vision and search plans, stock prices soon after closed at $23.30– which when looking at the start of the month is up 31%. You can see the immediate effect directly after Mark’s talk.

source: http://www.businessinsider.com/chart-of-the-day-facebook-stock-2012-9

The latest news is that in the coming weeks Facebook is going to roll out new features that will allow advertisers to create hyper targeted ads based on their CRM databases that they have already consolidated previously. Essentially bridging the gap between existing customer lists and Facebook advertising.

Meaning brands across the globe will be able to pinpoint desired customers in Facebook with a hyper-targeted ad, and will just hash the selected customer’s email addresses for security purposes and spin the file over to Facebook. Facebook will then align the addresses with the correct profiles and those users will be exposed to the brand’s advert.

Hyper-targeting ads will hugely benefit not only brands, but Facebook from a revenue perspective as according to their Q2 report derives over 84% of its total revenue from ads.

However, we must pause for a second before allowing our marketing minds to start thinking of the possibilities, would this actually work in Australia? With our privacy laws being the way they are and the way they could soon be, is this something that could be realised within the Aussie market?

Keen to get some industry experts talking about the matter, I threw my investigation cap on regarding the Australian market and whether it would align with the Australian Privacy Act, and David Simon – Head of Policy & Regulatory Affairs at ADMA (Association for data-driven marketing & advertising) weighed in on the subject, “Facebook Ad Exchange and the new CRM integration program being offered through their partnership with DataLogix can work under current Australian privacy legislation.  That’s because the de-identified information will not be considered personal information under the Privacy Act.

However, with the new Privacy Bill being considered in the Senate, there is a risk that this kind of marketing using de-identified information might be captured by privacy laws because of a new, expanded definition of personal information.

Currently, the privacy legislation applies only when you can identify an individual by name.  The new definition of personal information in the proposed Privacy Bill could be expanded to include information where you can identify an individual with another unique identifier. We need flexible laws that promote the digital economy, and ADMA is not convinced that the proposed Privacy Bill is achieving that.

The other interesting point is whether or not the SPAM Act would even apply to Facebook considering the nature of the platform, to which David responded, “The Spam Act applies to commercial messages (i.e. marketing messages) that are sent to an electronic address in connection with an e-mail account, an instant messaging account, a telephone account or a similar account.

As with all legislation, the meaning of ‘a similar account’ is open to interpretation.  As far as we are aware, no regulator or court in Australia has ever suggested an interpretation that would apply the Spam Act to a Facebook account, or similar social media account.

But this goes back to our previous point about the risk of unintended consequences when drafting legislation.  Governments need to be very mindful to avoid damaging business, the digital economy in particular, with careless drafting.

It will be interesting to see how this one pans out, stay tuned!



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