Don’t Underestimate Social Advertising’s First Mover Advantage


The opportunities in social marketing are becoming more apparent to brands, but most marketers aren’t laser focused on every update and release coming out of the social media space. New tools often go unused or underutilized as a result.  Not every new social media bell and whistle will be relevant for every advertiser, but most of the tools being released by Facebook, LinkedIn and other top networks hold a lot of potential and warrant a close look.

For some advertisers, the standard social media advertising formats may be all they need, but advertisers can raise their game specifically by moving beyond the tools available in the native interfaces of top social networks.

As social networks release new advertising products, each carries an early adopter advantage. When marketers embrace a new advertising format, they face far less competition then they may have to face later. This was true in the earliest days of display, Google AdWords and Facebook advertising, and it’s apparent with each new format release from Facebook and other top networks. Early adopter price and competitive advantages also enable marketers to test ad formats with greater flexibility and less pressure, and this can be the difference between success and failure.

This testing flexibility positions early adopters to efficiently and effectively evaluate which emerging ad types best fit their brands and evaluate their social ad buys on an ongoing basis to ensure they leverage the best ad types, pricing models and strategies. Facebook and LinkedIn are ever-evolving to stay on the forefront of social media, and advertisers should keep an eye on the ways they translate that into productive marketing. As they push boundaries, however, new ad types are often overlooked, because the functionality can’t always be accessed in their networks’ native interfaces (e.g. Facebook Power Editor). Astute advertisers will research these new tools and learn how to get them live quickly to capitalize on their inherent first mover advantages.

Consider these five examples of oft overlooked functionality and ad types:

  1. Facebook’s “Sponsored Results” offering enables advertisers to get better noticed when consumers search for a topic of interest related to their brand. Politicians got into the action by bidding on keywords related to their opponents, especially in this election cycle. If a brand (product or persona) doesn’t show up next to relevant keywords, it opens the door for competitors to capitalize.  With the holidays on the horizon, retailers should consider this a great opportunity to take market share from competitors during the holiday shopping rush.
  2. Custom Audiences (or custom clusters) on Facebook is another exciting development that has already demonstrated higher conversion rates for advertisers with customer emails, phone numbers or UIDs (Facebook IDs) at their disposal. It enables advertisers to narrow their target to only those who have opted into sharing their information. For example, let’s say a consumer opted in to receive more information about a pair of shoes. Now, the advertiser can target that consumer with relevant products that match that interest.
  3. FBX – The Facebook Exchange has been a huge hit with advertisers looking to retarget users on Facebook who have visited their brand’s websites. This functionality does not live within the native Facebook advertising user interface but is available through DSPs (e.g. Triggit) and API vendors (e.g. Kenshoo Social).
  4. LinkedIn recently released a 30-second video option for advertisers looking to add a little something extra to their campaigns. Advertisers with video assets can generate a strong call to action within LinkedIn to build awareness and interest. Video advertisers who haven’t considered LinkedIn in the past should be sure to take another look at the network.
  5. Skills targeting on LinkedIn has recently begun enabling marketers to target individuals via their stated skill set.

Staying on the Cutting Edge of Social

Industry publications and the social networks’ own blogs are some good places to start.  Advertisers wanting to experiment with beta social ad types, however, should contact their local social media sales rep.  For Facebook specific needs, advertisers can also look at the short list of Strategic PMDs who are on the front lines of the latest and greatest innovations. Only a select few vendors have earned this designation; so the list of 300+ potential vendors has been narrowed to roughly a dozen.

New products will continue to be tested and released from social media networks, and it is important to know what’s on the horizon.  Recently, some retailers got in on the Facebook “Want Button” (now being sun-setted), and Alpha and Beta tests often open up to larger in the know brands. So what should an advertiser do to keep up, and what trends should they keep in mind as they do their planning?

Mobile’s growing role is perhaps the most influential. As users turn to their mobile devices to access their social graphs in rapidly increasing numbers, we should assume social networks will look to double down their investment in an effort to better monetize mobile. As gaps that divide social and mobile continue to narrow, social media networks will follow suit. With this emphasis on the end user in mind, those social media networks will look to bring added value to the buy side of the business as well. Mike Schroepfer, Vice President for Engineering at Facebook has been quoted as saying “We have basically retooled and focused the company around mobile.” LinkedIn has made a concerted effort to overhaul its mobile offering over the last couple years to make its mobile environment (chiefly its app) grow into what it is today.

Ultimately, social advertising is a moving target, and new opportunities continue to emerge. Advertisers should be sure to consider tools that are available today, for a limited time, and in the future.


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