April 8, 2011, 2:57 PM

GiantNerd finds that Facebook’s ads help it attract new nerds

The retailer aims to get consumers to Like it rather than drive direct sales.

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About 65% of outdoor gear and apparel retailer GiantNerd.com’s Facebook advertising spend is devoted to attracting new consumers to Like its brand. The remainder is focused on driving consumers to its site.

That focus involves building up GiantNerd’s Facebook fan base because the retailer has found that consumers who Like its brand convert at a substantially higher rate than other consumers, though the retailer would not share the figures.

“One of our main approaches is to increase the number of fans we have because the more fans we have, the more we can openly communicate with them,” says the company’s president, Randall Weidberg, whose official title is nerd in charge. “We see a high rate of return on that investment. We don’t have a ton of data on this because we’ve only been doing this for about 30 days, but so far those ads have outperformed the return on investment from ads that steer shoppers directly to our web site.”

The retailer has run Facebook Marketplace ads nearly since the site launched. The retailer targets those ads at 18- to 30-year-old consumers who list in the interests sections of their profiles certain relevant keywords like mountain bikes, as well at consumers who Like certain brands. Those ads appear on the right-hand side of profile pages.

Since the launch of Facebook Sponsored Stories, the retailer has also been running those ads, which leverage consumers’ brand interactions with GiantNerd to create an ad. Sponsored Stories is an ad service that companies can use to have their logos appear alongside content from consumers’ communications that involve the company.

In one of the versions of its Sponsored Stories ads, the retailer highlights that a consumer’s friend Liked GiantNerd. The consumer who views the ad can click that he Likes the ad directly from his newsfeed, which is the first page a consumer sees on the social network.

“We’ve found that it has been one of the most effective ways we’ve gotten Likes,” says Weidberg. “That’s because it has the least amount of disruption.” What he means is that a consumer no longer must click on the retailer’s page and then click Like.

Facebook ads represent about 20% of GiantNerd’s overall ad spend, a percentage that has doubled in the last month. That’s because the retailer has found that Facebook’s ads are particularly effective in building awareness of its brand. “With Facebook we can target our audience in ways that just aren’t possible anywhere else,” he says.

David Fisch, director of commerce partnerships at Facebook, will speak at the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition 2011 in a session entitled “What e-retailers need to know about Facebook."

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