Imagine you’re creating a Facebook ad targeted to professional photographers. And you don’t have ready access to the data which would allow you to target by Nikon or Canon preference.  Would you still be willing to design ads that call out Canon or Nikon fans by name?

This question came to my mind after seeing this ad on my wife’s Facebook page:

Also, here’s a little context for you non-photographers out there.  Nikon and Canon pretty evenly divide the market share for working photographers in the U.S., with most photographers dedicated to one platform or the other.

Think Apple vs. PC, with all the same “sidedness” and self-identification that sometimes goes along with that, but with a much more even division of marketshare.

So if you sent out that ad with the Nikon image and call to action, you’d have to do it knowing that you’d be intentionally excluding half your audience (assuming that you rent lenses for both Canon and Nikon, which this company does).

That’s why most Facebook advertisers wouldn’t pull a stunt like this: it’s counterintuitive. But that same dynamic is exactly why they should consider it!

If you create both versions of the ad — a Nikon and Canon version — and run them alternately to different segments of your list, you could leverage the identification and emotion felt towards these two brands to get a much higher reaction rate for your ad and service.

Because excluding half your audience with each ad is worth it if both ads boosted response rate, right? If the generic, non-branded ad gets a CTR of 2% and the Nikon-specific ad got 4%, who cares about those Canon photographers who didn’t respond to that ad — we’ll get ’em next week when we run the Canon version of the ad!

It’s an interesting thought experiment because targeting through messaging can often make up for whatever targeting limitations are inherent to your platform. People who advertise on mass media know this, but Facebook advertisers sometimes get so spoiled by the platform’s micro-targeting capabilities that they forget to target by message.

Consider this a reminder : )