The Evolution of Social Media Advertising

by | Jun 20, 2016 | Uncategorized

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Anyone with any kind of social media presence, from Facebook profiles to Snapchat accounts, knows that these platforms are undergoing constant tweaks and development to better streamline the experience for their users. Each platform is also working diligently to make itself as attractive as possible to advertisers and the cash that comes with them. In a world where the only constant is change, here are some new features being offered by a few of the most popular social networks.

Facebook connects online ads to in-store sales. While Facebook has come a long way in developing local awareness ads that pop up whenever a potential customer is within range of a certain location, they have been having difficulty connecting these ads to in-store sales. Over the next few months, they will begin rolling out technology that provides advertisers with data on the number of people who physically enter their stores after viewing their ads on Facebook. They have also implemented an application program interface, or API, that allows stores to link their point of sale data to their Ads Manager system, providing even more ammunition for the next time a marketer is asked the dreaded question, “Where’s my ROI?”

Pinterest is catching up to Facebook. Pinterest may not be one of the first social networks that springs to mind, but as of early this year they were valued at $11 billion, and marketers are taking notice. For the past two years, their main advertising capability has been to allow brands to promote pins based upon basic demographic data like region or interests. They are now stepping up their game with options that may look familiar to the Facebook crowd.

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  1. Retargeting: If you visit certain product sites, you will start to notice a lot more of their branded pins interspersed in your feed.
  2. Look-alike targeting: Brands and marketers will be able to target you based upon the kinds of pins you look at frequently, such as health food, exercise or hairstyling.

Just last year, Pinterest unveiled a partnership with multiple agencies to help make its API more accessible for advertising and added animated pins, putting itself on a more even footing with its larger rivals.

Snapchat gets an advertising facelift. Snapchat is perhaps one of the great new frontiers of social media advertising, but the platform has experienced some bumps in the road. A study released this month by L2, a subscription-based business intelligence service that measures the digital performance of brands, found that only 70 percent of brands with Snapchat accounts are active at all. Brands that do have a presence are active only two days per week, as opposed to an average of five days per week on Instagram. To pump up their advertising activity, Snapchat has recently undergone a few noticeable changes.

  1. The entire app layout was redesigned to incorporate brand stories at the very top of the page to encourage user engagement. Media partners have been given a “Subscribe” button and the opportunity to promote custom headlines to boost views by driving more traffic to their publishing channels.
  2. Snapchat has launched a new type of video ad called “Snap Ads Between Stories,” which will automatically appear when users are swiping between their friends’ snaps and will result in what they claim to be an engagement rate that is five times higher than with traditional banner ads. Fear not, millennials: The app will allow you to swipe past these ads quickly, which the company hopes will engender trust and loyalty.
  3. Snapchat remains focused on video advertising, but with the success of sponsored lenses and filters, expect to see them more frequently. Remember the vaguely horrifying Taco Bell promotion? So do 224 million other people.

With such stiff competition over consumers’ hearts, minds and eyeballs, what’s new in social media advertising today could be what’s old news by next week. While it’s easy to be fooled into thinking that what’s newest is what’s best for your brand, it’s important to make sure your messaging and the way it is conveyed aligns with what your consumers want. And if it doesn’t – hey, there’s always tomorrow.

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Lisa Umar
Lisa began her career as a China analyst in Washington, D.C., before moving to Phoenix to attend the Thunderbird School of Global Management. Since then, she has gained experience in account service, project management, branding, media placement and campaign strategy. Her clients have ranged from resorts to transportation companies and nonprofit organizations, as well as both B2C and B2B companies. She holds a dual B.A. in international affairs and Asian studies from George Washington University, as well as a master’s degree in international marketing from Thunderbird.

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