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Where Brands Go Wrong In Social Media Advertising

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While digital advertising is still relatively young compared to traditional ad media, the medium is rapidly changing. This is especially true in social media as the way the consumer interacts with advertising on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat continues to evolve. Not surprisingly, from both the advertiser point of view and the consumer point of view, misfires are all too common.

Andy Hardman, head of social media at Rakuten Marketing, specialists in internet marketing. Hardman indicates that many problems that arise stem from advertisers not conforming to Facebook’s best practices. As these best practices are updated regularly, it is not an easy chore to keep up with them. Consumers are continuing to change in terms of how they interact with ads, and not all consumers interact with social ads the same way. Facebook classifies three distinct types of social ad engagement–“on-the-go,” “lean forward” and “lean back.” On-the-go refers to situations where someone is just quickly checking email while in transit. Lean forward reflects situations when the viewers has more time such as during lunch break or while waiting for a doctor’s appointment. Lean back comes in to play when consumers are in a more relaxed setting such as when at home watching TV. Consumers behave differently across these situation types and advertisers should consider the setting when designing the ads. However, there are some common mistakes made across that cut across setting. Four common mistakes are described below.

1) Not using proper placements by ad type

Different consumers show preferences for different types of ads. For example, some consumer prefer video over static ads, while others are more prone to ads on Facebook or Instagram stories, and still others respond better to personalized ads based on websites they are visiting. Moreover, some ads are designed for prospecting while others aim for more “bottom of the funnel” activities, including purchase, and formats should be adjusted accordingly. For example, a “collection ad” that plays a video with featured products highlighted below is a great format for driving conversions, while stories and in-feed ad formats are more effective at finding new customers who may have an affinity for your brand.

Put simply, the marketer needs to know how consumers interact with ads. For example, in some product categories such as school supplies or sportswear (e.g., LeBron shoes), there may be a need to target a young child or teenage in a manner that encourages them to interact with a parent, who is the actual purchaser. This may mean running a campaign with lifestyle-centric video and imagery on platforms that target a younger audience, like Snapchat or TikTok, alongside a Facebook campaign with static imagery that emphasizes value, designed to appeal to the parent.

“The dynamics that come to play between audiences, formats and platforms is crucial to take into account when you’re developing social strategies,” said Hardman. “Having a clear understanding of who your audience is, and what influences their decision to buy should be informing the direction of your campaigns. This comes from testing ad formats and creative, and regularly analyzing social performance that can bring light to what’s influencing consumers beyond your own market research.”

2) Insufficient budget per ad

Because of the nature of social media, reach is potentially high, but advertisers may need to hit frequency targets as well in order to optimize the effectiveness of an ad. In some cases, advertisers may run multiple ads, but not repeat them enough to make optimal impact. Facebook recommends a “learning phase,” when it’s best to leave your ad sets alone until phase is completed. Any edits made during this stage will only restart the learning phase. Thus advertisers should make sure they have enough budget-per-ad-set to see at least 50 conversions in a 7-day period.

Hardman indicates that low budget-per-ad-set is the number one issue Rakuten sees with advertisers today when performing social audits. The company advises clients to set up campaigns and objectives to ensure every dollar spent or any social effort put forward maximizes the reach to the right audience.  

3) Poor or Ineffective Identification of the Target Audience

Rakuten has found that some campaigns simply do not contain a target and end up going to 240 million consumers with no strategic segmentation. Others actually target too narrow of an audience to meet return on ad spend goals. Hardman suggests that one way this solve this is to have proper targeting that matches the creative, thereby increasing the “Audience Match Score,” a measure used for targeting effectiveness, resulting in lower eCPM (electronic cost per thousand exposures) and higher performance.

4) Lack of Effective Creative

Hardman indicates that one of the most common problems he sees is lack of video in a format where it could be effective, or poor video creative. A key research insight the company has found is that more product imagery in ads, as opposed to general imagery, enhances ad effectiveness. Moreover, the company’s analytics suggest that more video ads and ads in stories would enhance results for many.

In the fast changing world of social media, advertisers are well advised to avoid these common mistakes. In addition, keeping pace with fast changing trends is essential.

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