I use Facebook, but not as much as a year ago, so I wasn’t surprised with the results of a recently published “Facebook Satisfaction Survey IV” conducted by Bridge Ratings indicating the “social blowback” on the platform because of the latest political season. According to the study, the number of people who use Facebook less increased to 14.4 million in January 2017 from 7.6 million in July 2015, and more people are unplugging because of increased negativity on the platform.
The question is, should companies unplug from Facebook advertising because of decreased use? The short answer is “no.” There are still hundreds of millions of people using the platform regularly. But smart marketers are seriously considering the environment in which their ads run. Walmart and Procter & Gamble are just two examples of companies that have stepped away from YouTube because of concerns their ads might run adjacent to questionable content (e.g. terrorist or hate videos).
While ads serving in questionable content can be a serious concern for digital brand marketers, conversations about placement relevance are getting louder[i]. What pet food brand wants their ad to fall in the middle of a “pet site” that extols the benefits of homemade pet food? Auto manufacturers certainly don’t want their ads to run adjacent to articles with unfavorable reviews about their product. Perhaps one of the more challenging relevance issue surfaces with ads targeted to one group but being served to consumers with clearly different characteristics. For instance, ads targeted to an adult 18 to 49-year-old male could be served to a pre-teen female who uses her dad’s iPad to find makeup tips on YouTube. Likewise, makeup ads being served to the 49-year-old dad because of his daughter’s use of his iPad are a loss.
Digital content providers are working to mitigate problems with ad placement around questionable content and relevance. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix and as digital options proliferate, so do the complexities of measurement and monitoring. Brand marketers can mitigate some issues with native advertising but at the cost of higher CPMs, increased manpower requirements, and limitations on the audience size.
The digital campaigns I design and execute for most of my clients include a mix of assets including social media activation, location based geo-fencing, behavioral and marketplace targeted ads, email marketing and targeted audio (including video pre-roll). The “must have” for every plan is targeted audio (& video) on the iHeartRadio app. With more than 100 million registered users in the U.S. the asset has tremendous reach. The pre-roll video on the app has a completion rate that teeters around 95% and click thru rates (CTR) well above industry standards. In one recent campaign, my client had a 12.2% CTR on pre-roll ads delivered to mobile devices. The asset provides a brand safe environment and mitigates most relevancy concerns.
Designing and executing a digital strategy is not getting any easier for brand marketers. Questions around measurement, safe content, ad relevance, and even the effect of a contentious political environment add to the challenges faced by marketers across the nation. But there is hope on the horizon. Big brands are placing greater demands on their digital vendors to fix the issues. New companies are cropping up with third party resources, albeit at additional costs, to help marketers and suppliers find the best environment for ad placement across the Internet. And media companies, like iHeartMedia, are building digital assets with tremendous reach, effectiveness, and environment control that will satisfy most brands.
[i] Advertising Age, Is Peppa Pig a Bigger Threat Than ISIS Video? Brand-Safety Crisis Exposes a Relevance Problem, July 18, 2017
Jeani Stevens holds an MBA in marketing. A seasoned marketer and business development executive she currently works for iHeartMedia, Inc. in San Francisco, CA. Jeani and her team create and execute local, regional and national marketing campaigns exclusively for pet brands using a wide variety of marketing assets. Jeani can be reached at JeaniStevens@iHeartMedia.com.