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Market to the social influencers who surround the customer, as well as the customer.

One of the ways in which you market to those influencers is using display advertising. So rather than just placing advertisements on Web sites that your customers visit, you place some advertisements (doesn’t have to be a large percentage of your budget) on Web sites that their social influencers frequent, too. Is this as measurable as those advertisements targeting your customers directly?

Maybe not, because these influencers are less likely to click the ads and make a purchase. But nevertheless, they remember the brand and they influence your customers. Most social platforms accept display advertising in some form, and this serves as an important part of their revenue model. Figure 1-3 shows display advertisements on YouTube. Granted, display advertising on social platforms generally produces bad results (users don’t notice the advertisements, and they don’t click them) but the ad formats for social platforms are still evolving. One example is appvertising, where advertisements are placed within applications that reside on social networks. These produce better results.

Another innovation is where consumers are asked to rate the ads that they’re viewing. This helps the platform target ads more appropriately to them in the future think about this scenario for moment: You visit a major Web site like CNN.com and see a large advertisement on the right side. The advertisement asks you a question, and you’re invited to respond to that question from within the ad unit. What’s more, you can see other responses to the question within the ad unit.

Conclusion

That’s an example of the ad unit becoming a platform for a social conversation. There aren’t too many examples of social ads online, but I’m seeing more companies experiment in this space. Figure 1-4 shows how one ad appears on CNN.com.

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