Budgets are tightening, and advertisers need to boost ROI- fast. The social Web is gaining value not only as a medium that delivers measurable results, but also as a resource for gaining insight a company can use to make all of its advertising (TV, print, online) more effective, to increase ROI across the board.
Social media is known for its wealth of useful information. Using relevant analytics can pinpoint audiences and learn more about them. Need to reach adults who are interested in European travel? How about people in Los Angeles who like spy novels? Done. You can even aggregate more information along the way and optimize your ads as you go, to fine-tune your reach and make your campaigns more effective.
But as important as such targeting is – and it is significant – there’s another valuable aspect to social media: the level of engagement of the consumers with the social “medium” itself (compared with any other medium – TV, radio, print or even traditional online).
People choose to spend time on social sites. They’re not passive observers – they’re active participants. They’re playing games, sending messages, reading blog posts, poking their Facebook friends, commenting on someone else’s photo, and the list goes on. They’re typing, thinking, laughing, and conquering their enemies (only in the games, we hope). They’re engaged.
Use social media to provide access to enough data about demographics, traffic, interests and social actions to pinpoint a target audience and understand them better, and the attention that users give to this medium while they’re engaged.
What you get is the potential to gain unprecedented levels of information about your audiences and your messages by offering people incentives to give some of that attention to you.
The Payoff: Increased ROI
The idea of incentives isn’t new. Most of us have handed over our contact information for the chance to win a trip to Hawaii (or name your destination), or responded to a handful of survey questions to get a free soda with our next meal. The virtual world is no different. In this virtual economy, people still have wants – someone playing a game wants extra points, someone with a virtual pet wants extra gold to buy toys for it, someone in love wants to send a gift of a dozen virtual roses.
The new opportunity for advertisers is to apply the principle of incentives that we’re all familiar with offline to the virtual economy. Offer game points, gold for virtual pets, or a free gift, in exchange for taking a certain action.
It’s in this action where the real gold lies, thanks to the two characteristics of social media mentioned above. No longer are the actions limited to collecting a consumer’s mailing address or surveying for opinions that aren’t tied to any demographics.
The action is to view your ad (banner or video) and answer a few questions about it. The incentive is whatever the publisher is offering as a reward (the points, the gold, the gift, anything).
The payoff to the advertiser is intelligence that will help you increase ROI within all types of advertising.
Your survey can be designed to measure consumer perception:
Awareness – Who has heard of my brand?
Attitudes – How do people feel about my brand?
Favorability – Do people like my brand?
Intent – How likely are people to purchase my products or services?
Preference – Do people prefer my brand or products over others?
The right analytics partner can couple those results with user demographics like age, location and gender, along with interests and social actions. For example, anonymous User A is a 45-year-old woman who lives in St. Paul, reads murder mysteries, plays Scramble on Facebook and says she is “very likely” to see the next James Bond movie.
That is a significant amount of actionable intelligence for any company. In our fictional example, using aggregate (and always anonymous) audience information, the movie studio might discover that while it’s been concentrating ad dollars on reaching the male audience, perhaps there’s value in targeting females that match certain demographics.
Beyond its significant value as an advertising channel in and of itself, the social web is becoming a giant testing ground for companies to discover who their audiences are and how to more effectively reach them – from any medium.
The social space is evolving into a place that offers advertisers an efficient way to understand audience behavior and perception – and to reach people with precision targeting like we’ve never seen before. You couldn’t ask for a better incentive to get social.