ADOTAS – “The battle for the White House will be won through Facebook,” SocialVibe CEO and digital marketing veteran Jay Samit declares.
He’s waiting for 2012’s “Willie Horton” ad, the political ad that flares up controversy across the nation and violently upsets the process. There’s at least one every election cycle — think the “Playboy Party” attack ad against Tennessee Senate Candidate Harold Ford, Jr., setting off a media fury around its perceived race-baiting in 2006.
But Samit doesn’t think the inflammatory ad is going to be on TV this time around — it’s going to be on Facebook, which will also host the majority of the commotion.
Social media will be central to the 2012 political races is the theme of SocialVibe’s new report, “All Politics Is Social: Social Media Engagement Will Decide Election 2012.” Sure, there was a lot of gaga media coverage about how President Obama used his Facebook page to rally a voting coalition, but it’s been three years since the 2008 election and a lot has changed in social media marketing. Consider how much potential candidate Sarah Palin relies on the social network to reach out to her base by posting videos and commentary — she’s got more than 3 million diehards engaging with her daily.
Through its value exchange (the polite new term for offer marketing) video platform, SocialVibe conducted a digital field study in May 2011, incentivizing Facebookers in big primary state Iowa to view politically-themed ads. The results were astounding: 94% of participants watched the entire video ad and 40% went on to share it with their Facebook networks. That sharing percentage is double the average share rate for most “social media engagement” campaigns, as SocialVibe dubs it.
In addition, SocialVibe calculated that an investment as little as $25,000 in an engagement campaign could spread online to people of voting age in all 50 states within 24 hours. That’s downright incredible considering the tens (hundreds?) of millions campaigns spend on TV commercials.
SocialVibe was one of four companies granted the ability to serve value exchange video ads to Facebook gamers through TrialPay’s DealPay platform. The proposition is simple — watch a branded video, get Facebook Credits. SocialVibe already was the value-exchange provider of choice for social gaming kingpin Zynga.
Interestingly enough, SocialVibe started in the cause marketing field, incentivizing video ads with donations to charities. It’s a particularly useful tool when a celebrity supports a cause (say, suicide prevention hotlines) that brands don’t really want to get involved in, Samit says. Cause marketing is still 10% of SocialVibe’s business, but it was hard to ignore the revenue potential in other segments.
At its heart, value exchange marketing is about offering opt-in instant gratification especially when it comes to virtual currency and items for social gamers and app users. But as YouTube Sales Director Bruce Daisley recently noted, viewers that watched YouTube TrueView ads all the way through tended to be more engaged and have higher brand recall simply because they had the option to skip the ad.
So imagine how much more users are engaged when an opt-in video ad offers them something in exchange. Advertisers are essentially “incentivizing attention,” Samit comments, noting that social media engagement campaigns have a 90% average completion rate and typically spend 63 seconds on sponsored content.
Even more interesting, the secret to getting users to share is not incentivizing the practice, but simply providing good, engaging creative — then 40% are likely to share the ad with their friends.
Facebook is a good partner, Samit asserts, especially as its targeting eases the task of personalizing videos and “getting the right message to the right person.” However, SocialVibe promises user privacy by not collecting personal data — the value-exchange transaction are completely anonymous.
Samit himself has jumped around the digital world role, origins of Internet auctions, getting in on ringtone mania, launching a social network that was too far ahead of its time (the 90s) to succeed and working with some guy named Eric Schmidt in the Clinton Administration on federal Internet initiatives such as “Net Day.”
Providing services for the top advertisers, Samit boasts about SocialVibe’s 100% customer renewal rate. It’s not as hard these days to sell brands on the importance of jumping in the social pool, he says.
“When it comes to social media, no one is asking ‘Why?’ anymore,” he comments. “Advertisers are asking ‘How should I?'”