Facebook Pursuing Channel Partners to Reach Deeper into SMB Market
October 19, 2015 | Contributed by: Greg Sterling
While not officially announcing a small business (SMB) “reseller” program, effectively Facebook is following Google’s lead in seeking to develop a network of channel partners that can help the company penetrate more deeply into the SMB market.
Facebook has 2.5 million active advertisers and 45 million active SMB Facebook Pages. If we assume 85% of its advertisers qualify as SMBs, then that’s about 4% penetration of its “installed base” (those with Pages). Historically Facebook has taken a go it alone approach to SMB advertiser acquisition and seemed to resist the notion of an SMB reseller or channel partner program.
But it what seems to represent a new phase for Facebook, the company announced a new small business solutions entry point in its marketing partner program. The first two official partners are Constant Contact and AdRoll. Each company has integrated with the company’s API and will be able to use an official Facebook partner badge as part of its marketing outreach.
I spoke last week with Facebook’s Steve Irvine, who runs the company’s Marketing Partner program, and asked him what was involved in becoming an official Facebook marketing partner. He said that AdRoll and Constant Contact were just the first two and there would be more.
He explained this program is not for “agencies,” which Irvine was quick to point out are highly valued by the company. (I would speculate accordingly that may see another “badge” for agencies in the future.) Irvine told me that to be part of the Marketing Partner program companies needed:
- A large base of current SMB customers and proven ability to deal with SMBs at scale
- Proprietary technology (this is why agencies are disqualified)
- A sales and support apparatus that demonstrated success in the SMB market
I asked him if SMB advertiser retention was a selection criterion. He said yes. I also asked whether this program was “inspired” by the Google SMB partner program. He said Facebook had done lots research on existing programs but wouldn’t say specifically whether it was modeled in any way on the Google program. My guess is yes.
I later spoke with Constant Contact’s Joel Hughes to gain the partner perspective. He told me that using the API integration Constant Contact automatically converts existing email creative into Facebook ads, which can then be edited if desired. He added that Constant Contact had already brought “thousands of customers” into the new program, which relies on Facebook Custom Audiences and associated lookalike audiences.
Pricing is $50, $100 and $250 per month in order to reach: 5,000, 10,000 or 25,000 uniques. Right now SMBs only get visibility on whether the audience targets had been exposed to the ads and CTRs. More ad types will be rolled out in the future (e.g., Local Awareness Ads).
Each partner may offer slightly different marketing services or products. For example AdRoll offers retargeting. However what’s most interesting here is that this marks what appears to be the beginning of a program that will ultimately incorporate numerous third party “resellers” and channel partners. In a certain way Facebook is setting up a program that is quite similar to what Google has done — at least at a conceptual level — taking a page from its rival’s playbook.