!Report: The Rise of the Social AdvertiserWe are entering the beginning of the end of the destination web as we haveknown it. Consumers increasingly spend time in social networks and less in theiremail inboxes and visiting traditional websites. As such, brands continue to raceto social media sites in the hopes of connecting with consumers when theirattention is focused on conversations relevant to those brands. Part of thechallenge however, is earning the attention of consumers not just once, but alsobuilding a relationship with them over time.Many brands are, of course, developing a presence within customer networks ofrelevance such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. While some are findinginitial success, most are looking for ways to grow the size of their networks andand the depth and endurance of their engagement. In social media, a new waveof digital advertising services and products offer brands the ability to reachbeyond their existing communities. Twitter’s Promoted Products suite,Facebooks contextual, friend-based banners and “Sponsored Stories” program,and YouTube’s Promoted Videos, for example, help brands extend their reach bytapping into the social and interest graphs of consumers. The hope is thatbusinesses can attract attention, find relevance, and build more effectivecommunities through a more engaging social advertising program.The Pivot team set out to learn more about the state of social advertising and itsopportunities by conducting an industry survey of 230 brand managers,executives, and marketing professionals.Is Social Advertising the Cure for Banner Blindness?Digital advertising, such as banners and keyword buys, has long providedbusinesses with products to generate opportunities for clickthroughs, but theseproducts are proving ineffective in social networks. In a phenomenon dubbed“banner blindness,” consumers are learning to ignore many forms of digitaladvertising in favor of the desired content within their area of focus. Usabilityguru Jakob Nielsen demonstrated through heat maps1 where our eyes arefocused on a website screen. As you can see, consumer attention zeroes in ontext and not the banners around it.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"http://www.useit.com/alertbox/banner-blindness.html!
!On the social web, banner blindness is even more prevalent. In social networks,content populates the social streams of consumer profiles. If we apply the heatmap model to social streams, we can visualize how attention may mirror thebehavior in traditional web sites. Advertising blindness is a real threat withinsocial networks, but at the same time, represents a new opportunity to rethinkpaid media. Therefore, social networks are creating products and services tooffer brands the ability to earn the attention of the consumers they hope to reach.
!For social advertising, the new opportunity for engagement lies in and around thenew attention dashboard—the social stream.Facebook offers managed brand and self-service models. Its Ads and SponsoredStories sell against interests and people connected to consumers as well as whatconsumers say or reveal about themselves. Businesses can buy Ads againstkeywords (interests), languages, geographies, and reach. Additionally,Sponsored Stories turns Page updates, Places check-ins, Likes, and applicationactivity by consumers into advertisements.Twitter sells Promoted Products that appear within the line of sight of consumers,mostly in close proximity to the social stream. However, that will soon change asPromoted Products are expected to be placed within the social stream itself inmid-2011.Twitter’s monetization strategy lies more in the ability to reach interest graphsrather than social graphs. The difference is that in a social graph, it’s all aboutwho you know. On the contrary, interest graphs are based on what people shareor what they say.
!Twitter’s advertising products are designed to reach the right people, in real-time,at the point of attention and intention (P.A.I.). This means that if you search forkeywords, you may see a relevant Promoted vehicle in the results. Soon, whenyou Tweet a relevant keyword or follow a particular business, an ad may show upwithin the social stream. With Twitter’s Promoted Accounts and Trends products,paid inventory is located just to the right of the stream, but still within immediateview and located strategically to areas where consumer attention also focuses.Twitter is expected to also introduce self-service products for smaller businesseslater in 2011.As reported, YouTube is the Web’s second largest search engine. YouTubesPromoted Videos help brands attract customers, viewers and subscribers bydisplaying video ads against relevant search results and related video content onYouTube. This self-service model complements managed brand services on YouTube that continue to offer traditional digital advertising units such as banners.Truth in Social AdvertisingThe Trends in Social Advertising survey was conducted by the Pivot team tomeasure the interest in and utilization of social advertising. An invitation to theonline survey was extended to marketers and agency professionals via email,blogs,Twitter and Facebook. Responses were received between May 18th andMay 26th, 2011.
!Optimism is rife regarding social advertising. Of those businesses thatresponded, 60% anticipate that social advertising will be very valuable to them.Another 32% view social advertising as valuable, regardless of the level ofsatisfaction with past efforts.
!Of the respondents in the 2011 Pivot social advertising survey, 85% were eithercurrently experimenting with social advertising or planned to do so within the next12 months.
!Businesses appear to find social advertising successful or worthy of investment.54% are satisfied or very satisfied with their experiences within social advertisingto date.
!The Pivot study learned that the major social platforms dominate socialadvertising plans. 93%, 78%, and 61% of those surveyed have already deployedcampaigns on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube respectively. Within the next 12months, businesses will explore social advertising programs beyond thesenetworks to include Foursquare (26%), LinkedIn (21%) and YouTube (20%.)Despite its popularity in media and on Wall Street, brands aren’t ready toadvertise on Zynga. Only 2% use Zynga, with 49% stating they’ve no plans to so.However, 13% of respondents do plan to advertise on Zynga within the next 12months.
!For brands to experiment in social advertising, they must find the availableproducts make sense to them. Facebook ranks at the top for the services itoffers, with 31% and 38% of surveyed professionals stating that Facebook’s paidprogram offerings are excellent and good respectively. YouTube, Twitter,LinkedIn and Foursquare do not fair as well, however. Marketing professionals,executives and brand managers state that social advertising products on theseservices are mostly just good and fair as opposed to excellent.
!The perceived or realized advantages of social advertising are broadly sharedamong survey respondents. 54% strongly agree and another 37% agree thatsocial advertising is gaining momentum. 51% strongly believe and 39% agreethat social advertising can enhance the investment in other forms of marketing.Intelligence is the name of the game in social media and 37% and 35% stronglyagree and agree respectively that social advertising provides more informationabout prospects and customers than any other form of marketing.
!Objectives for social advertising appeared all over the map in the survey, asbrands evaluate various outcomes. At 17%, a brand using social advertising tosupport product introductions or other announcements is the current mostcommon outcome. 13% are seeking to engage existing customers. Tied at 12%,deploying social ads to increase the size of the community or drive traffic tooutside destinations. 11% of respondents designed social ads to build brandawareness.At the bottom half of the objectives, there was an interesting three-way draw at9% between selling products, gaining feedback and intelligence, and generatingleads. At the bottom with 4%, businesses tested social ads for shifting sentimentand generating video views.
!When asked how frequently they integrate social media functionality into theiradvertising campaigns, 38% stated always, 34% did so frequently, and another21% responded sometimes.
!Social advertising is mostly integrated into campaign planning, with 70% statingthat their social advertising planning is done at the same time as the rest of thecampaign. Planning social advertising before or after the broader campaignswere planned each had 12% response.
!Among the group planning to experiment within the next 12 months, Pivot askedwhich methods they consider “social advertising.” An astounding 83% consideredblogging and Tweeting on behalf of a company, product, or brand a form of socialads. Paid placements through social network advertising inventory followed with69%.Responses also included:Viral videos: 67%Contests: 64%Promoted Tweets, Trends: 63%Social media optimization (SMO) 62%Tweet/Like to Win: 55%Paid Tweets and Posts: 49%Advocacy/Ambassador programs: 43%Influence programs: 38%
!Among those businesses currently conducting social advertising, a whopping67% that engage bloggers and influencers to blog and Tweets on behalf of thecompany plan to increase this activity. 42% that are seeing success with SMOview it as an opportunity to increase the reach of the brand. 30% will boostinvestments in viral video creation. 27% that currently advertise in socialnetworks will up their spending and 21% that use Twitter Promoted productsspecifically plan to expand experimentation. On the contrary, 30% of businessessurveyed do not use Twitter’s Promoted products and do not plan to do so. 41%also do not pay for Tweets and posts and will not invest in this strategy in thecoming future. However, 12% do pay for Tweets and posts and will increase theirspending on this front while 11% use employ this activity now and will keep it thesame.We were surprised at the low level of advocacy/ambassador programs acrossthe board. While 20% run these programs and plan to escalate these activities,only another 10% are managing these initiatives and will keep them as is. But,8% plan to decrease the investment, 13% do not plan to use, and 10% aren’taware of these programs or they do not apply. On the bright side, 25% do notuse them today, but they do plan to host advocacy/ambassador programs.
!If you’ve run a branded social network address in a traditional advertisement,you’re not alone: 70% of respondents use traditional media to drive engagementin social advertising.
!Companies see social advertising as a way to encourage user involvement. 58%seek users to become involved with the brand. Another 16% hope consumers willendorse products or the company within their social streams.
!Each network boasts its own culture, defined by how people communicate,discover, and share. As as result, what works in Facebook will differ from whatworks in Twitter, and what’s effective in YouTube may prove ineffective inFacebook. Social advertising will perform as designed within each platform,forcing an elimination of a “one size fits all” strategy. To that end, 56% arecustomizing their campaigns significantly for each platform. 19% claim to onlycustomize social advertising campaigns for the major platforms and another 17%only slightly customize the program based on the network.
!In social media, engagement doesn’t operate with an on/off switch. Consumersare always-on and expect the same from those with whom they connect. 75% ofbusinesses agree, claiming that social advertising is an ongoing program.
!As we hear so often these days, the beginning of the end of social media 1.0 isupon us. Experimentation must now give way to measurable business impact. Atthe top of the list, of course, is ROI. For social advertisers, the greatest obstaclethey face is demonstrating ROI, with 42% and 44% claiming it is either asignificant or occasional obstacle. Securing budget is next on the list with 34%and 53% reporting it as a notable or periodic challenge. Getting executive sign-off follows, although securing budgets and getting approval could be tied to thosesocial advertising campaigns that can demonstrate business impact.
!Measurement is key to proving the effectiveness of any campaign.Demonstrating ROI, securing budget, and earning executive sign-off representthree of the top challenges in adopting social advertising, making measurementan essential element for expansion and scale. Most frequently, surveyrespondents use social media analytics tools to measure social advertisingeffectiveness. The list of measurement tools breaks out as follows:Social Media Analytics: 63%Monitoring: 43%Web analytics: 30%It’s also interesting to note that 16% are not measuring social advertising effortscurrently.ConclusionSocial advertising is evolving and is forcing creative professionals to think outsideof a box that may not, in fact, yet exist. In its research, Pivot did not find a magicbullet to replicable success. The guide for best practices in social advertising isbeing written as we go. Additionally, the culture of each social network behavesuniquely and requires a customized approach. This represents both a challenge
!and opportunity for brands as they must invest creativity, purpose, and value intoeach initiative to learn what consumers want or what they tune out.Whether or not social advertising represents the cure for banner blindnessremains to be proven. Based on the results of this report, brands will continue toexperiment to find the best formula for attracting attention and driving desirableand measurable performance and outcomes. As revealed in the report, ROI isimportant for future funding. Additionally, overcoming advertising blindness isessential to success. Without designing metrics or outcomes into the campaign, itwill be difficult for marketers to prove value to executives. Without designingpersonalization and relevance into social advertising programs, it will be difficultto prove value to consumers.The future of advertising will be largely influenced by consumer behavior in socialnetworks. Those brands that listen, measure, and evolve programs as a result,will push advertising forward—to the benefit of consumers and ultimately thebrand.