Brands spent a lot of time and money in 2010 acquiring a social following. By building up Facebook Likes and Twitter followers, big brands like The New York Times and Mountain Dew now have a social audience pool that they can engage with.The problem is that while some big brands have put a substantial effort into the social wave, other big brands, as well as smaller brands, are limited in their high volume approach to social media.
Additionally, the bigger brands that have already made efforts toward social follower acquisition have a tough time tracking the ROI from theirefforts. However, converging social media with display advertising can fix these social media problems, as well as the everlasting problem of banner ad blindness.
The wide reach of display advertising
Since the early days of the consumer Web, businesses have been serving their display ads on publisher sites with the goal of attracting new customers. Advertisers would back campaigns out to actual sales dollars generated directly from the ad, allowing the ROI to be measured appropriately.
E-mail marketing and SEM campaigns are tracked similarly, giving advertisers the ability to figure out how much money they need to spend on each channel to achieve a positive ROI. However, while e-mail marketing generally only targets a subscriber list, and SEM inventory mainly relies on search engines, display advertising gives advertisers the ability to target new customers and segmented audiences on the millions of Websites they visit.
This allows the brand to win additional sales from almost anywhere on the Web. But the problem with display ads is that they’re often ignored and go unnoticed by consumers, as display ads are usually,though not always,salesy and not engaging.
The engagement power of social media
Social media, however, is not ignored. Like and retweet buttons are easily and often clicked, and allow people to share brand content to their own social audience. A brand that taps into someone’s social graph can lead to dozens, even hundreds of an individual’s friends and followers to check out the brand as well.
A brand’s followers and like-ers can start receiving additional social notices from a brand, allowing audiences to engage with and share the brand’s latest deals or info about its newest products. However, this is generally seen of as an exercise in branding, adding an implicit value to brand, which is hard to track.
While advertisers know they are getting some sort of long term value, they don’t know exactly what this value is. Additionally, social share buttons are generally limited to internet real estate that the brand already owns, giving advertisers a tough time to socially connect with audiences that have interest in the brand, but have yet to check out their latest blog post, viral video, or campaign.
As a marketer, imagine spreading your brand’s Facebook Like button to the sites that your audience visits. Imagine being able to stay in front of your audience with your Twitter feed and retweet buttons, or having ads that click-through to share your content on Linkedin.
Converging social media with display advertising lets the two forms of media synergize, and possibly become the most powerful form of internet advertising available. We’ve already seen a media convergence between display and search – the result of which can be seen in Google Adwords – which has combined the contextual targeting of their SEM platform with the inventory of their display platform.
By converging social media with traditional display buying, advertisers can build their social following and engage with their audience on millions of Websites. Big brands like Ford are already doing this, but 2011 will allow smaller brands to socially activate their audience through display ads as well, the benefits of which include:
An Unparalleled Reach – Not only do you get the inventory reach with the rising popularity of real-time bidding that new display media offers, people who engage with these ads will further share this engagement with their social-graph. This is the biggest possible reach for advertisers.
Increased Brand Engagement – As previously stated, banner ads often go unnoticed or ignored. This is mostly due to creative design – static banners tend to not jump out to consumers, while animated banners tend to move too fast, causing its messaging to be lost. By placing your brand’s social plugins into ad creatives, audience engagement increases, and their own social feed will remind them about your brand and content, as well as spread it to their own social connections.
Lifetime Trackability – With the newly democratized availability of audience targeting techniques, specifically retargeting, advertisers can now better track the total interaction between their brand and its social audience. By segmenting your brand’s social audience, retargeting allows you to track the total amount of dollars spent by your socially acquired customers over any amount of time! In some specific examples, the Facebook fans of one particular college are 233% more active with the college’s online marketing media than its Website’s general visitors, while the Facebook fans of an up-and-coming house DJ were 367% more active with the artist’s promotional ads when compared to the visitors of his official Myspace page and fan blog.
By combining social media with display buying, small and big advertisers alike are able to attract social followers from more places than ever, and are finally able to track the results and valuate their efforts. While both mediums have their own unique strengths and weaknesses, converging the two will create value that can’t be matched by each medium acting alone.