Things Will Never Be The Same: The Growing Necessity of Paid Social

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The Growing Necessity of Paid Social As social lovers and marketers, we all knew there would come a time when our favorite social platforms would find themselves answering to their investors. That’s just the way it is.

And now, unfortunately, things will never be the same.

(At least where organic vs. paid social is concerned.)

Last week Twitter announced its intention to filter user’s Twitter Feeds. In effect, choosing the content that does and does not get seen by each user. There are two schools of thought around this:

  1. The average Twitter user feels quite overwhelmed by the amount of content that appears in his feed, which inevitably leads him to be less active. Lower active user counts, then, disheartens investors.
  2. The Twitter connoisseur enjoys her ability to follow who she wants and always see the most recent content in her feed. She loves that as long as she follows her local news station, for instance, she’ll see any/all breaking news stories in her area.

But if Twitter does decide to create its own algorithm (much like Facebook’s EdgeRank), no content is guaranteed to make your feed, especially if you haven’t interacted with a tweet from a particular user in a while.

Twitter is doing two things here. It’s addressing the information-overload complaint from average users while also forcing brands to amp up their efforts by using their paid options. Promoting your tweets will eventually be the only way to make 100% sure that your followers see your content, not to mention reaching your potential followers.

After a change similar to this on Facebook, AgoraPulse and Mark Schaefer found that more than 70% of all companies across 104 industries had a decline in organic reach of 30% or more. And while the question on whether the brands are to blame for their decline in reach is still valid, the hard truth is that Facebook’s algorithm change has led to a very steep decline in organic reach and engagement rates across the board. And this same trend will likely rear its ugly head on Twitter as well.

The answer: dollars.

Innovation and relevancy have always been the pathway to success on social. But the almighty algorithm is driving the need for brands to invest in not only great content, but also in sponsored and paid social advertising – especially, if they want to see their social programs succeed.

Conversion Rates for Paid vs. Organic Social Network Advertising by emarketerThe good news in all this is that paid social ads actually have proven to achieve higher conversion rates than organic content (via emarketer 2014 Q1 study). Especially on Twitter, where ads were more than twice as likely as organic tweets to convert users.

So now, the questions will not be, should I spend money on social ads? Rather how much, when, and why?

 

 

The Rise of 2nd Screen Viewer Engagement: Implications for Advertisers

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The first time I heard the term “second-screen viewing” or “second-screen viewer,” I rolled my eyes. Hello…we have been watching TV and eating, reading, doing homework, “studying,” emailing with clients, etc. for as long as the TV tray has existed.

But what we haven’t experienced for decades is the ability to track what viewers are doing while they’re watching. Are they playing Candy Crush and sort-of watching CSI or are they watching The Voice and following the singers virtually as they sing on screen? In other words, are they tuned out or hyper tuned in?

Thanks to social media (and our inherent need to share), we’re now able to pinpoint just how engaging our shows are. And, more importantly, we’re able to capitalize on this engagement with ads.

But just how much second screen viewing is actually happening and what’s the potential for second screen engagement?

In 2012, Nielsen reported that 40% of smartphone and tablet owners used their devices while watching TV. In just 2 years, that number has increased to 80 percent! So as advertisers and “official engagement engineers,” how do we capitalize on this?

Thankfully, technology has given us the ability to track the real-time interactions happening across multiple networks, platforms & devices and associate those with what’s happening on TV. And they’re not mapping back to to the TV guide to determine when something’s airing. It’s way more sophisticated than that –  companies like Bluefin Labs (now a part of Twitter) have technologies to determine what’s on TV in conjunction with real-time conversations on Twitter and Facebook.

All of that aside, engaging with TV viewers is now not just an opportunity, it’s a necessity. But what does this mean for advertisers?

  1. In-depth knowledge of your target audience. Gone are the days of shot-in-the-dark intuitions around where your target audience is and what they’re talking about. To engage in the second screen, you have to KNOW what shows your audience is watching, when they’re watching it (live or DVR?), and what networks, hashtags, etc. they’re using while viewing.
  2. Live Interaction. Okay well that’s sort of a given. With social, you need someone manning your account basically 24/7. But if you want to engage with TV viewers, you must also watch along with them – otherwise how would you know what they’re even referencing in their #scandal tweets?
  3. On-the-fly Content Creation. Brands always struggle to find the perfect balance between getting content approved before it goes live and creating content that leverages real-time conversations. But with the second screen, this balance is even more important. You can’t wait until the second commercial break to promote a tweet about something that happened in the first two minutes of a TV program. So you either need to be able to predict a few content areas and have the ability to adjust based on the show OR you need the ability to create images and associated text with an “ask for forgiveness, rather than seeking approval” mentality, forgoing the approvals process.

How do you engage with brands and/or TV shows while watching the tube?

Twitter TV Ad Targeting: Qualifications for Advertisers

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This morning at its #Twitter4brands conference, Twitter unveiled two new services: TV Ad Targeting & Twitter Amplify. We’re most excited about the new TV Ad Targeting project, but have discovered that it may be a VERY long time before advertisers and brands will actually be able to use it, especially because of its budget restrictions and exclusivity.

Here’s what we learned about the new products:

Twitter Amplify:

We knew when they announced the Vine app that Twitter was trending toward making video a more prominent part of the Twitter user experience. But we had no clue what was on the horizon. This morning we learned that media brands and their ad partners can promote short television clips on Twitter. It’s been in Beta for a while, with 5-10 second replays from NBA basketball games. But brands will now be able to include their message at the end of the clip. For instance, a clip from “The Weather Channel followed by an ad for a restaurant chain,” (Mashable). How this smaller advertisers will be able to take advantage of this, we’re not exactly sure yet. But what we do know is that promoted videos are an amazing way to really engage an audience.

TV Ad Targeting:

I’ve always been a fan of the technology behind Social TV analytic company Bluefin Labs. Since being acquired by Twitter, though, we had yet to see any major changes in the platform. Until now. This morning Twitter announced a new product that will allow you to promote tweets to users who have just watched your ad on tv, thereby securing post-commercial viewing engagement.

Twitter is now enabling brands to consider the entire Social TV experience and giving them a chance to break through. Want users to watch your commercial and then visit your amazing website or start playing your social game? With TV ad targeting on Twitter, this is now a reality. The Social TV movement has finally come full circle.

But you’ll have to hold your horses, because the project is currently in Beta and only being offered to current Twitter ad partners. I was also sad to find that the reality is that this is a product only brands with large marketing budgets can afford.

Here are the qualifications needed before Twitter will allow you to use Twitter TV Targeting (as confirmed by an account executive at Twitter):

  • Run national TV advertisements in the US that span multiple days (ideally across multiple shows and/or networks)
  • Run TV ad targeted campaigns for a minimum of one week, in line with TV schedule
  • Promote tweets that reinforce the same message as TV ads
  • Allocate a minimum of $100K incremental (per handle) to “Promoted Tweet” campaigns coordinated with TV ads.
    • $50K of this must be allocated to TV ad targeting, with remaining funds to be allocated at the client’s discretion.
  • Have spent at least $25K with Twitter in 2013

With these new opportunities, will you rethink your Twitter advertising budget?