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How To Fix Social Media Advertising

Opinion and Insight 338 Add to collection
As more of us increase the time we spend online, creatives, strategists, and ad delivery experts tell us how they would improve the social media landscape for marketers
How To Fix Social Media Advertising

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the world’s current state of affairs has led to more time being spent online, and in particular on social media. A recent study from influencer agency Obviously found a 76% increase in the collective number of Instagram likes in the first two weeks of March, as coronavirus began to spread across the world. 

All of which perhaps leaves social media as the key battleground for advertisers in the months ahead. Given the circumstances, it’s more important than ever that marketers get their social media campaigns right.

The trouble is that social channels’ explosive growth has meant that the platform has developed perhaps quicker than we could understand them, leaving a legacy of challenges that evolve on a daily basis. Looking to the experts to find out how we can best engage with this media channel in 2020 and beyond, we spoke to Elias Bassil, Head of Strategy at Geometry MENA, Rob Kavanagh, ECD at OLIVER, and Andy Hopkinson, Chief Client Officer at Adstream, to pinpoint the biggest issues.

Focus on Context to Maximise ROI

In the hyper-targeted world of social media, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that your ads are always arriving at the right time, to the right person. But it doesn’t always play out that way.

Elias explains, “my mentor, Roy Arndale, simplifies this with an example. Imagine you’re camping in the woods, and someone shouts ‘bear!’. You’d run away, hide, make sure you’re as far away as possible and fear would take over. But if you were at a zoo, you would run towards it, gather round, take photos and excitement would take over. The same person, with polarizing behaviours based on context. So the misuse of content in the wrong context is killing budgets on social”.

Similarly, Rob notes that “no marketer wants to waste the right message on the wrong person. But the converse situation is often the problem on social: right person, wrong message.

“The wrong message often manifests itself as an overly generic or bludgeoning brand broadcast that takes little notice of the person it is actually trying to engage. That’s not just damaging to creativity, it’s damaging to the brand.”

Andy explains that “for global brands, campaigns are absolutely vast and there are, rightly, a huge number of people involved. This means they can be incredibly difficult to orchestrate, and that includes ensuring every single element of a campaign starts and stops at the right time. That can have an impact on context, but it can also be enormously costly when it comes to usage rights for assets that have expired after the campaign continues running. 

“Modern marketers need to ensure that their tech gives them the ability to easily track and adapt their campaigns. When it comes to context and ROI, control is king”.

A Centralised Hub Is Essential

There is an astronomical, and ever-increasing, amount of content on social media which campaigns must try and cut through. At the same time, the sheer amount of content leaves a data trail which can, when used correctly, be invaluable to marketers. 

“The role of a centralised hub”, suggests Elias, “should not be merely to track individual campaigns, but to help us extract meaningful patterns from large volumes of seemingly random noise”. This, however, is a dangerous game. “We have to be wary of falling into apophenia [the tendency to mistakenly see connections between unconnected things]. Whatever hub we use needs to be sophisticated enough to help us see patterns when they really exist”.

When marketers are armed with accurate data, it makes life a lot easier. “Fortunately”, says Rob, “it doesn’t really take much intervention from a creative mind to help a brand stand out in someone’s feed”.

Additionally, a modern campaign for a large brand is likely to be stretched across teams based in different countries, time zones, and cultures. “It’s essential”, says Andy, “to ensure that all necessary stakeholders can access campaigns and make the required revisions with minimal fuss. That’s why you need a centralised hub that’s clean and clear, with all workflows accounted for. Not only that, but a key challenge for social media management is ensuring governance and accountability especially for global brands - knowing what assets are shared by whom and when - and that’s where technology and this unified hub can play a key role ”. 

See Targeting As A Blessing, Not A Curse

Social media didn’t invent targeting. It’s easy to forget that, but as Rob reminds us, “the most effective campaigns have always relied on precise targeting”. 

However, it is true that social media platforms have given more power to marketers looking to ‘hyper-target’ than ever before. For those in the industry, it’s a simple fact of life. “At Geometry”, says Elias, “we try to see hyper-targeting as an opportunity for a new breed of creativity. 

“I’ll share an example. If you’re born on the 18th of July, you’d read the Cancerian section. And it feels so relevant to you, it’s almost mind-blowing how accurate it can be! But then again, someone born on February 17 can read the same section, and feel what you felt. That’s the power of a kind of creativity that is universally relevant, and individually unique at the same time.”

“When it comes to data”, says Andy, “I don’t think there’s a brand out there who will say they want more of it than they already have access to. What is needed, though, is the ability to make sense of the mountain of it that exists. We need to understand what’s happening market-by-market, campaign-by-campaign. Clarity and certainty are gold dust in the world of data and targeting, and my best advice is not to cut corners on making sure you have that”.

It appears that data-driven targeting isn’t going anywhere, and the results for the brands and campaigns that utilise it best are considerable. 

The Next Steps 

Whilst much about the immediate future is uncertain, the importance of a social media as a platform is obvious, and growing. Andy notes that “all the data we’re seeing right now shows an explosion in the use of social media platforms during this time of lockdown. Resultantly there is a clear and obvious opportunity for marketers to speak to not only a vast audience, but one which, using the right technology, can be understood on a level not seen before.

“I think we are going to emerge out of this crisis with social media as a more mature medium, and something that is absolutely integral to a global brand’s communications strategy. The tools and the audience are all there - it’s now up to us to make the most of it”. 

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Adstream London, Tue, 19 May 2020 09:19:45 GMT