Bess Batterham Team : Web Operations Tags : Viral Marketing Facebook

"It's a Bess thing"

Bess Batterham Team : Web Operations Tags : Viral Marketing Facebook

When I logged onto Facebook this morning I was quite surprised to see an ad for a hoody with my name on it pop up. Having quite a unique name, I was never lucky enough to have a personalised number plate on my bedroom wall like the other kids.

Lucky for my parents I couldn't bug them for the teddy bear with "Bess" embroiled on the front in one of those gift shops, because that teddy bear never existed. Or at least I never came across one. My sister Lucy, however, had plenty. 

So as gimmicky and obnoxious I found the ad to be, having a little bit more knowledge in online marketing than the average person and knowing that it was merely an audience targeting trick, a small part of me still wanted to buy one. 




Looking on their Facebook page, and seeing names like Hollis and Shona it is obvious that they are targeting the more unusual names, and looking at the comments of “I need this” by every other Bess on Facebook (who knew there were so many), it dawns on me how good of a marketing idea this really is.

Firstly, these ads are highly shareable. People being shocked to see them, tag you in them, or seeing your name in it, you are so excited, you share it yourself.

Which brings us to number two, it takes the great targeting features that Facebook ad manager allows and exploits it to play into our own narcissism on a website devoted to talking about ourselves.

But how exactly are they doing it and is it some sort of invasion of privacy?

Looking through some forums some possible answers of how they are targeting people based on their name are;


“My assumption on targeting is they are using CRM data bought from a third party and then matched on Facebook. That's the only way I can possibly think of that doesn't violate a ton of privacy policies that Facebook has in place..Another way is to use FBX. If a user visits the T-Shirt website and views the "John" T-Shirt, they could then see the ad on FB. This is less likely to me as the reach would be extremely minimal and no mobile reach. (note: FB released a new product where they can now do this on mobile via a FB direct feature called Website Custom Audiences, but it's not a widely released product as of yet.)Either way you look at it, it's pretty costly to get that specific, but I feel like the gain would outweigh the costs in the end.”

“I doubt the facebook interface allows marketers to target people based on their name. it seems like a privacy issue and is an unusual targeting parameter. i've used facebook ads a bit and they don't allow this in their regular guess is that they make a fake account with the lastname they want to target. then they just randomly add a bunch of people with the same last name. most people are friendly enough that they would accept a friend request from a stranger that shared their last name. once you have a good sized friends list you start sharing photos and links to your products. pretty easy.”


But as I did not previously google “Bess hoodies” or accept some unknown friend request, I am still baffled as to how this ad has popped up on my newsfeed.

However, if anyone is wondering what to get me for Christmas, at least this blog answers that.