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Retailers are worried about the dominance of Facebook

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Retailers are joining publishers in their fears that giving away too much control to Facebook will eventually end up undermining, instead of promoting their businesses.

Online media trade magazine Digiday UK says that these concerns have been voiced during the Digiday Retail Summit.

Trying to get off the Facebook and Instagram ride that is providing them with customer growth and effective marketing is proving to be challenging, but retailers are beginning to put more thought into it.

Among the concerns is that while targeted ad campaigns are working very well inside Facebook’s advertising machine, costs are rising, while new customer acquisition opportunities seem to be plateauing. At the same time, smaller alternatives to Facebook, like Pinterest, are not nearly as alluring – so much so that traditional marketing is being considered amid growing anxiety over too close ties with Facebook.

One exec at a direct-to-customer brand is quoted as saying that they are “moving on from Facebook and Instagram.”

“It is crowded and competitor brands can replicate you easily. Control is being taken away as platforms flex their muscles – we’re seeing less control over our target audience, meaning it’s becoming increasingly harder to reach a core audience,” he said.

Another point heard at the conference is that Instagram is not nearly as useful as Facebook itself – but retailers seem hopeful about the platform’s new in-app shopping feature.

Some retailers present at the summit are also looking for ways to outfox Facebook, by using the platform as they build their brands, to then try to shift customers to their own stores and partner venues.

But Facebook is not sitting idly by, either, and is instead working to tie retailers and brands even more tightly to its platform, by exposing users to their marketing in a growing number of places. The company’s developer conference F8 heard this week that besides the main feed, these will include Facebook Messenger and Stories, while over on Instagram, those unhappy with paid ads will be able to boost their “influencer marketing” with the addition of new features, such as product tags in posts.

As for the online retail behemoth Amazon, brands seem afraid of missing out on the opportunity to be present there, while being leery of their products getting squashed by bad reviews – with Amazon now apparently taking over from Google as the prime source of this type of information.

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