Archive for the ‘Advertising’ Category

Trend: Social Media Agencies Turn to Advertising


In a stunning early finding of interviews with nearly a dozen social media agencies and software providers, I’m seeing a new trend: Social media agency of record (SMaoR) are now moving into advertising buying.   I’ve just spent a week interviewing a number of social agencies here in Manhattan as well as taken briefings from around the globe (see below for source info)

Why this dramatic change from social media purists who once declared war on advertising?

The new advertising features from both Facebook and Twitter (Such as sponsored tweets and trends) encourage earned content to become advertising units and give an opportunity for social marketers to get into the advertising game. This also means the opportunity for ads to perform at a higher level because they’ve been ‘approved’ by the crowd is a unique opportunity afforded to the social media agencies vs the ‘carpet bomb’ approach of yesteryear.  This results in three distinct impacts to the industry:

  • Advertising is Limited to Social Networks: The advertising units that these agencies are purchasing are often limited to Facebook or Twitter –not broader banner and skyscraper ads across media and Google serp.  In fact, in most cases they’re analyzing which earned content performs the best, then using the features like Twitter’s sponsored tweets to amplify this earned content to reach new audiences and drive attention or call to action.
  • Social Media Agencies Don’t Have Solid Case Studies, Yet. Most of these pure play social media firms lack an advertising background and are staffed for engagement.  They also tend to have a longer term approach for community building –not six week ad block flights.  As a result, it doesn’t guarantee that they’ll be able to outperform traditional digital advertisers although most say they’re working on case studies to show higher engagement, and conversion.
  • Expect a Battle Between Digital Agencies and Social Media Agencies. Now, there’s going to be a fight over advertising budget as social media agencies battle for small shares of advertising dollars.  We’re also seeing digital agencies develop social competencies and battling the social pure plays.  In the end, I believe we’ll get rid of the term ‘social’ or ‘digital’ as a prefix for any agency as they’ll all have the same competencies, esp after a mass M&A that biz dev execs are already starting to sniff.

Sources: As an Industry Analyst, I’m fortunate to speak to many in the industry for research purposes, In the past few weeks I’ve spoken to Adobe, Attention, Banyan Branch,  Big Fuel, Buddy Media, Converseon, Deep Focus, Edelman, Google+, IBM (Social Products), LiveWorld, SocialFlow, VaynerMedia, We Are Social, and many others.   Our analyst focused on agencies is Rebecca Lieb (Blog, Twitter), although we’re both talking to many-in-the-industry for our upcoming joint report on Paid Owned and Earned integration.

Update: Fast Company’s Francine Hardaway has answered this post discussing how Agencies are Going the Way of the Dodo.

Five Trends: How Brands Integrated Social, Mobile, and Web into 2012 Super Bowl Advertisements


By Altimeter’s Jeremiah Owyang, Brian Solis, and Zak Kirchner

Findings: Five Trends Indicate Cross Channel Integration a Mainstay. Super Bowl ads, while only representing the nation’s largest consumer facing ads are a bellwether for advertising trends for the remainder of the year. To best understand these trends, Altimeter Group’s research team analyzed each Ad in real time, and conducted analysis to best understand the advertising trends for 2012.  Using Chicago as a middle ground, we reviewed all ads from kickoff till the game clock expired and found that trends out of 87 advertisements.

  • Trend 1) Brands Heavily Invested in Promoting Traditional Websites
  • Trend 2) Surprisingly, Many Did Not Promote a Call-To-Action
  • Trend 3) Only a Sixth of Ads Explicitly Promoted Social Media
  • Trend 4) Hashtag Marketing Emerged to Stimulate Continual Engagement
  • Trend 5) Cutting Edge Marketers Teased with New Marketing Tactics, including Shazam

2012 Superbowl Ad Analysis:  Less than one-third of Ads don't promote cross channel
Above Graphic One: 2012 Superbowl Ad Analysis: Less than one-third of Ads don’t promote cross channel

2012 Superbowl Ad Analysis: Corporate URLs still reign supreme
Above Graphic Two: 2012 Superbowl Ad Analysis: Less than one-third of Ads don’t promote cross channel

Rather than push for fans and followers on social sites, brands invested in promoting traditional websites, and experimented with new forms of engagement like applications, Shazam, and even promoting hashtags. We found five trends:

Trend 1) Brands Heavily Invested in Promoting Traditional Websites
We found that 49% linked to a corporate website URL, also 9% linked to a microsite URL for a total of 57% of all Ads linking to traditional URLs. This standard deployment comes at no surprise, as a call to action is often needed for advertising ROI, and traffic surges are often the most common way to measure this. Surprisingly, despite many game watchers having multiple devices on in tandem to the TV, a whopping 32% did not have any online references to either a URL, or even a social site.

Trend 2) Surprisingly, Many Did Not Promote a Call-To-Action
In a surprising move, brands did not have a direct call to action. In fact, 32% did not link to any social site or URL as listed in trend 1. For example Chrysler’s Imported from Detroit showed the logos of their car lines, but did not have any URLs. Likely this is due to high brand recognition of brands, and the goal was to drive awareness, consideration –but not drive leads or intent on a website. Why did brands do this? We believe for a few reasons: to drive conversation among friends, or to make an impactful statement, or lastly because we live in a Google world, consumers can readily find URLs without being prompted.

Trend 3) Only a Sixth of Ads Explicitly Promoted Social Media
We define this instance as Ads that showed their social networking accounts like Facebook, Twitter, or even hashtags in text, or sometimes even written on signs in the ad content itself.  Unlike previous Super Bowls where consumer generated ads were infused with traditional ads, we saw less than expected integration of content from the crowd. This year, we didn’t see any explicit mentions of content that was created by the crowd. Furthermore we found low integration with social media, in fact, 16% of brands linked or mentioned their social networking accounts. Among them 11% linked to Facebook, 2% to Twitter. We did not capture any integration with Youtube, Linkedin, or Google+.   Despite the low explicit mentions of social in the Ads, nearly all of the ads are cross-posted on YouTube.

Trend 4) Hashtag Marketing Emerged to Stimulate Continual Engagement
While Twitter helped to promote their platform with the Twitter Ad Scrimmage (which lists more hashtags than we saw in-Ad), we found that 6 ads explicitly promoted hashtags (total of 7%), and only 2 brands promoted their Twitter accounts (2%).  Interestingly, when hashtags were deployed, we found that traditional URLs nor a request to fan or follow. To highlight, General Electric’s Ad focuses on how their technology is a key component of the beer value chain, pointed only to a hashtag “#whatworks” rather than promote a URL or a social networking account. I asked GE’s Twitter account why they did this and they responded to me in Twitter “@jowyang It’s all about shared conversation tonight (and tomorrow). We want to hear from people. #whatworks” This sea change in tactics is an indicator of how brands want to extend the experience beyond the expensive 30 second Ad to an ongoing permanent discussion. Additional hashtag engagement was found by Budweiser pushing #makeitplatinum (in two ads, by our count), Audi’s #SoLongVampires, Best Buy’s #betterway, and underwear line using #beckhamforhm.  These investments appeared to pay off as both Budweiser’s “#makeitplatinum” and Audi’s #SoLongVampires became trending topics minutes after their ads published, there was no indicator that either were sponsored.

Trend 5) Cutting Edge Marketers Teased with New Marketing Tactics, including Shazam
Beyond promotion the traditional website, microsite and social media account, brands have started experimenting with promoting new forms of marketing engagement for a total of 11% total incidence. To extend the experience, 3 ads promoted applications (often showing on an iPhone like Citibank’s Ad), 3 promoted SMS interaction, and GoDaddy promoted a QR code. We found that brands were integrating Shazam, a music finding application. In particular, Elton John in an Q1 Pepsi Ad was the first to promote this integration, encouraging further interaction by downloading media. Although not emerging, in the traditional sense, Etrade even promoted their phone number, which likely drove direct engagement. Brian Solis notes that this extends the experience and audience now becomes more engaged by downloading and consuming media beyond the game day.

Summary: Promoting Traditional Websites Still King –Social Integration Nascent
A majority of efforts had a focus on making a market impact by asserting new positioning, and linking to traditional websites and microsites.   Unlike previous years which pushed CGM in Ad content, or a direct push to fan and follower, brands in 2012 were more focused on engagement in social media, extending the life of the campaign.  A set of brands didn’t promote any cross-channel engagement, instead focusing on a powerful message, which we should expect to be a trend as brands can be found in every channel, esp aided by search.    New forms of marketing are emerging that result in integrating data from applications, as well as mobile experiences, that we’ll continue to see pioneer through the year.

Altimeter Group, a research advisory firm, had a team of researchers including Jeremiah Owyang, Zak Kirchner, and a third party oursourced resource for independent data collection take note of each advertisement and notate if they linked to a URL, (corporate website or microsite) mentioned social media, or used other tools in the Chicago area, which is mid-country. Secondly, Altimeter retrieved a list of brands that were advertising and was able to retrieve Facebook fan and Twitter follower numbers in order to compare pre versus post (stay tuned). Scope of ads captured were post-kickoff, to end of game when game clock expired. We did not use ads mentioned by NBC during the game highlights. We found that some ads were localized for the Chicago market vs other markets, however the ratios and trends cross-country are likely accurate.  In the spirit of Open, we’ve made the data public on Google Sheets.

Update: AdRants has commented on the data. Update: This data mentioned on USA Today.

First Take Analysis: What Twitter’s “Promoted Tweets” Means To The Ecosystem


The Altimeter Group was pre-briefed by Twitter COO Dick Costolo last week about this upcoming launch, we’ve had some time to think over what it means to the industry.  Help your boss fight through the clutter, send them this post.

Summary: Twitter has launched Promoted Tweets, combining paid and organic media. Brands can now advertise promoted tweets on search pages, however the community has power over which tweets will appear measured by Twitter’s new metric called “resonance” which factors in behaviors like the retweet, at, hash, avatar clicks. Brands can now purchase CPM based ads to promote these popular tweets at the top of a Twitter search term –even in categories they aren’t well known in, influencing awareness.  Marketers beware: unlike traditional advertising or social marketing this is both a combination of earned media and paid media.  For Twitter this experimental move makes sense as it taps into deep pockets of online advertisers without jeapordizing sanctity of the community as users will self select which tweets will resonate and thereby become promoted ads.

How it will work, a likely use case scenario:

  1. Twitter users will continue to interact with each other, and popular tweets will receive a high ‘resonance’ score from Twitter.  Some of these Tweets will be created by brands, and some by the users themselves.
  2. Tweets with heavy resonance can be purchased by advertisers in a CPM basis to appear as the first ‘sponsored’ Tweet on a search term. (Update: Just saw Dick’s recent video suggesting that promoted tweets will appear in other locations beyond search)  The sponsored tweets will be clearly labeled and have a different background color.
  3. These promoted tweets will only stay if users continue to resonate with them, those that don’t will disappear and a different tweet with resonation will appear.

Matrix: What Twitter’s Promoted Tweets Business Model Means to the Ecosystem
This has several implications to the ecosystem as a whole, we’ve broken down the impacts to the various players in this matrix:

Player Direct Impacts What They Will Do What No One Tells You
Twitter Finally gets a business model beyond search deal partnerships with potential to scale.  Taps into deep pockets of online advertisers. Experiment. Expect black and gray hat marketers to try to game this system, in order to obtain resonance. Twitter will constantly tune algorhythm like Google does. Expect this to cascade to their partners and grow into the ecosystem as Twitter aggregates resonation on other 3rd party sites
Twitter Users Have power over which promoted ads will stay visible Initially be shocked by changes, then learn they can help self select tweets that will be promoted.. In the real time resonace world users have a lot more power Power tweeters like celebs and digerati will be targeted by marketers to engage and resonate tweets. Twitter users that retweet tweets may be surprised to see their promoted tweets in search engine results ads.
Social Marketers The conversation is now being monetized, with changes to the outcomes of whats expected of the online conversation and engagement. Educate traditional marketers. These folks will try to increase resonance of tweets by interacting with community. Will build an inventory of top promotable tweets Don’t go overboard, make sure you think of this in the larger context of integrated marketing. Avoid shiny tool syndrome.  Must pay close attention to what terms are resonating with community to build inventory
Direct Marketers and Advertisers Finally traditional advertisers and direct marketers have skin in the social game in a way they know. Flail. Many will try to buy their way in and obtain resonation without asking why a tweet resonates.  Will fight over top searched terms in Twitter, expect a lot of contests to promote tweet engagement. Expect tension between this marketer and the social marketer if education is not completed.
Developers and Agencies A clear goal (resonation) has been put forth, with opportunity to get a cut of the incoming advertising dollars. Developers are waiting with baited breathe for Chirp developers conference this week to see how this will be tied in.  Twitter has indicated that promoted tweets will spread to clients, expect revenue sharing to be offered Don’t buy the first ‘resonation solution’ that comes around, expect half a dozen vendors and agencies to approach brands in the next quarter offering the ability to increase ‘resonance’ and case studies will show increase in resonance.
Competitors and Search Engines A new player being in town a new form of advertising is afoot changing the game. Expect nervous deals to come to the table on how search engine results can factor in Twitter’s resonance.  Expect players like MSFT and Yahoo to quickly launch their version of defining how the social web should be categorized. They will have the advantage of built in ad base of advertisers and millions more users.  Expect existing Twitter partners Google Search and Microsoft Bing will fold this in and reward resonance and combine with page rank, or will create their own metric to reward social engagement

For Resonation, Brands Must Pay Closer Attention To Users –This Isn’t Traditional Spray And Pray. Power continues to be in the hands of the users, however brands that pay attention to why tweets resonate will have a leg up.  here’s how you should approach this new space:

  • Change your mindset, as organic and paid merge: This is a combination of organic and paid ads, you’ll need skills from both worlds to be successful. Direct marketers should educate social marketers, and social marketers should explain how resonation occurs in the conversational web. Remember, this gives top tweets staying power beyond the constant stream of chatter.  In the end, remember that users have power over which advertising inventory will be created, chosen, and allowed to stay as a promoted tweet.
  • Remember Twitter users have power over which promoted Tweets will work: Remember that users they get to choose which tweets can be put into the advertising inventory as their interaction will self select which tweets can become promoted. Secondly, promoted tweets that don’t yield community engagement will also fall off the stream. is that in the real time resonance world users have a lot more power. Brands must analyze what works for users first before promoting tweets.
  • Then, carefully pick tweets to be promoted by analyzing the conversation: First, monitor which tweets are already resonating with your brand, take note of what is causing it to resonate and in what context. Secondly, recognize that these tweets should have long term impact, not a daily special as the tweet is promoted, users will interact with it, forcing it into a viral loop.  For best results, experiment with promoting tweets from your customers –not just those that you create.
  • Recognize that ‘Resonance’ is the page rank of microblogging: Advertising agencies and social marketing agencies will come out of woodwork with “resonance solutions”, yet most will do it wrong.  Instead, look for a sophisticated partner that knows the value of social conversational marketing to create an inventory and the long term experience of an advertising agency. Expect resonation to also cascade to other social networks like Facebook and even community platforms and content management systems to derive what content should surface.  Twitter has made nods to new dashboards to appear, expect your agency partners to align around resonation as the new ROI.

This post is the result of the collaborative efforts of the Altimeter team including Charlene Li (Leadership), Alan Webber (Web User Experience/Government), Michael Gartenberg (Mobile and Devices) and Christine Tran (Customer Strategy Research), learn more about the Altimeter Group. For more news, see Twitter blog, AdAge, we’ve cross posted on the Altimeter blog, and NYT for details.

Forbes: Super Bowl, A Missed Opportunity For Pepsi


Good For BusinessLeft: Pepsi launched a bold social marketing play, find out what went well –and what opportunities were missed.

Greetings, fellow strategists, In my latest column for the Forbes CMO Network (you can read all my Forbes pieces) I analyzed Pepsi’s big push into social. Also, you should see my detailed field notes, (I did my research before, during, and after the game, thanks to Trendrr folks) to measure any specific changes, before coming up with my findings. I did contact Pepsi pre article to get comments, although they sent me an email after the Forbes piece was up, see bottom response.

Super Bowl: A Missed Opportunity For Pepsi

Cola maker should promote its social cause on TV.

PepsiCo ditched the Super Bowl this year to make a major social media play. Instead of spending money for ad time on the Super Bowl, it’s relying primarily on digital initiatives to spread the word about its Internet-based Refresh Project contest and charity campaign.

The cause-marketing effort is a good one. Word is spreading through traditional media, online networks, social media and celebrity chatter. But I believe Pepsi made a big mistake in giving up its long-held Super Bowl ad real estate. A more integrated media approach–one that included the Super Bowl–would be a savvy play for Pepsi. And such integration is something top marketing executives need to keep in mind in their rush to embrace digital initiatives.

Let’s take a look at Pepsi’s campaign playbook.

The Big Gamble: Social Over Traditional Advertising
Pepsi, as a major ad player, knows that brand association is key to its marketing strategy. Company executives also know that there’s a shift in consumer adoption toward social technologies and that marketers can’t count on reaching the consumers they want to engage through TV. In response to this, Pepsi execs decided to spend the money the company typically plows into buying and creating Super Bowl spots–$20 million or so–to promote and fund a campaign that will identify causes that are worthy of supporting. At Pepsi encourages consumers to submit ideas to improve community or causes then activate their personal networks to vote for the ideas. To date, the number of submissions possible for the first round of awards has been maxed. It also enjoys a continuous buzz on Twitter with the hashtag #PepsiRefresh.

Playing to its Strengths: Budgets, Celebrities and First Mover
Pepsi has a lot of things going for it. It has the deep pockets to keep a campaign going long-term. It has benefited from notable press buzz from being the first mover of a radical approach. Additionally, the company is using traditional media outlets to glean endorsements from celebrities, including New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees on His charity of choice: the American Cancer Society.

Missed Opportunity: In-Game Tie-In
Pepsi made a misstep in this bold media shift: The company alienated a key channel and missed out on tying Pepsi Refresh to the most-watched TV event in Western media (correction to “U.S. Media” see comments below for details). By not having any in-game discussion on the advertisements, it was unable to use the Super Bowl or its advertisements as a catapult to launch the campaign into the social sphere. In fact, after the game, overall mentions of Pepsi and the Pepsi Refresh campaign remained relatively on the same trajectory as before. To look at a detailed set of my field notes and data, I’m tracking mentions using Trendrr of blog posts, Tweets and news articles on my field notes page.

Campaign Analysis: Advantages
Pepsi’s novel approach to social cause marketing is headed in the right direction. Pepsi benefits from:

  • First-mover advantage. By announcing a radical approach Pepsi took advantage of pre-event press coverage (including a story in Forbes).
  • Using celebrities to spur campaign. Pepsi invested in influential relationships by the utilization of celebrity endorsements.
  • Shifting to “we” over “me.” Pepsi has shifted traditional brand advertising efforts to now being more community-focused, enabling those who won the monies to spread the Pepsi brand on their behalf.
  • Planning for the long haul. Pepsi is making its marketing dollars go to work by extending the program over months, rather than a short flight of Super Bowl ads.

Campaign Analysis: Risks
While innovative, Pepsi has some clear challenges–and missed opportunities:

  • Pepsi has yet to show the world it gets social marketing. Its recent entry into the space with the edgy–but sexist–“Amp” iPhone applications resulted in severe backlash, and is now a case study on the infamous punk’d list.
  • Cultural mismatch. Pepsi’s history of mass marketing means it will need to change its internal culture to embrace social marketing, where success lies in letting go of control.
  • Missed opportunity to integrate Super Bowl TV ads with campaign. Pepsi’s biggest misstep is putting all its eggs in one basket–and not benefiting from synergies of multiple channels.

Takeaway: An Integrated Approach to Media is Best
By shifting so much of its annual ad budget from one channel to another, Pepsi missed an opportunity to spur word-of-mouth chatter about its Refresh initiative. Instead Pepsi should have relegated an appropriate amount of TV advertising budget to Pepsi Refresh, encouraging submitting ideas, voting and sharing in the context of the game. It would also introduce Pepsi as a socially conscious marketer to a larger group of people.

CMOs experimenting with digital and social technologies should not invest in them as a silo. They should instead be part of an overall integrated marketing effort.

JKO: Below is Bonin Bough, Pepsi’s Social Marketing strategist response via email. He’s given me permission to publish the following, and I appreciate the time he took to respond in an active dialog.

Bonin: I enjoyed reading your initial analysis of our Pepsi Refresh Project.

Let’s me start by saying on your key takeaway, we are on the same page: An Integrated Approach to Media is Best.

And that’s the approach we’re taking with the Pepsi Refresh Project. Throughout the course of the year-long initiative, we’re absolutely using traditional channels — television included — to support it. Our decision not to announce the program on the Super Bowl was not because we don’t believe in the power of television. We do. Or that we don’t believe in the Super Bowl, specifically. We do. (As you know, we chose to advertise other PepsiCo brands during the game.) The decision was based on the opinion that it wasn’t the most contextually relevant way to tell the story. Arguable? Perhaps. But the conversation around the program — the amount of it and the overall tenor of it — thus far suggests that it may well have been the right approach.

But we’re going to continue to engage in, enable, listen to and evaluate the conversation. And if it seems that we need to course correct we will. A sign, I think, of an internal culture and a senior management that is embracing social marketing.

Of course, the Pepsi Refresh Project is about more than marketing. It’s about engagement … about building affinity and building advocacy by making a real and measureable difference in people’s lives. And that’s why we take very seriously your point about impact. We’ve aligned with top-notch partners including GOOD, Global Giving and Do Something in building the Pepsi Refresh Project. A leading academic and research group will be assisting with project follow-up and measuring community impact. We’re optimistic about the very great potential.

We’ll be watching and sharing as the ideas build, the stories unfold and impact becomes evident. I look forward to watching your analysis and continuing the dialogue throughout the course of the program and the course of the year.

JKO: Thanks Bonin, we’ll continue to watch the interesting moves Pepsi is taking in the space of disruptive technologies. We agree, Pepsi’s core program is strong –but it can be refined by keeping all engines on –not putting all eggs in one basket. I appreciate the time you took to give me feedback. I’ll see you at SXSW again this year.

Where Your Facebook Pictures and Friends are Featured, “Prototype Experience” Provides A Social, Contextual Video Trailer


Remember early Jib Jab cartoons where you’d manually upload your own photo and that of your friends? Now, it’s much easier with just a few clicks to Facebook Connect.

Last week, I had dinner with Chris Pan (linkedin, twitter), Head of Brand Solutions at Facebook, who pointed me to a new social interactive marketing advertisement for a video game called “Prototype”. Upon accessing the site, Prototype Experience, (try it for yourself) you’ll be prompted to login with your Facebook account. After a rather lengthy loading period (it’s worth it, hang tight) you’ll watch a short teaser trailer.

This isn’t a normal trailer, as it uses your own social information in Facebook from your profile picture, your profile information, and photos from your friends. Here’s what I saw, see screenshots below.

What’s going on here? This is an example of more contextual ads based off social profiles, which is a trend as you can see my coverage of VW’s Twitter and Facebook campaign). These are early examples of the era of Social Context, where content, media, and ads will be personalized in the future based off your social information, learn more about this in the future of the social web.

User Experience: Screenshot Storyline
Here’s the blow by blow, with my thoughts.

Above Image: First, users are encouraged to login with Facebook Connect –a few clicks. If you’re already logged into Facebook, it’s just a few clicks –all without entering a password. Expect more people to interact as there’s less commitment and up front investment than finding photos and uploading them –Facebook already has the inventory you need.

Above Image: Promo video includes my profile pictures –making things a bit more interesting and personalized. As this evolves, imagine how your face and profile info will populate other experiences and content –we’re instinctively drawn to look at ourselves.

Above Image: “Is that me?” Yes it is, this promo video includes information from my profile –I’m right in the game. In consideration of my friends, I didn’t include their photos –which you’ll see in your own trailer video. Expect future ads where friends ‘promote’ or even sponsor content –some opt-in, some not.

Above Image: Participants are ‘hooked’ into the registration form in order to win in the sweetstakes, a good example of gathering leads from an engaged audience. Facebook isn’t a great way to generate leads, while you can get users to be ‘fans’ of your Facebook page, getting their true identity and email is often limited –as dictated by their Terms of Service.

Above Image: The participants are encouraged to share the campaign with their Facebook or Twitter friends, thus staring a “Viral Loop”. It spreads.

Key Takeaways

  • This is clearly a trend, expect many interactive and digital agencies to offer this social campaign to their clients.
  • Consumers will initially ‘freak out’ and be concerned that big brother is watching them –then will accept this as mainstream media over the next few years.
  • At some point, nearly every campaign will have social content influencing the content –hitting a saturation point that disinterests users
  • Expect site wide Facebook Connect initiatives to happen, allowing all of the media, content, and ads to be socially contextual. Expect media sites and eCommerce sites to launch this first.
  • Expect recommended products and ads to appear from your friends and those connected to you in your social network.

Contextual Ads Based Off Social Network Profile: Twitter and Facebook


Things are moving very quickly now, in fact I was pleased to learn about these contextual ads from my new friend Cory O’Brien in SF yesterday.

In my latest report “The Future of the Social Web” we pointed that in the near future we’ll start to see web pages dynamically created based on user profile ID in social networks. Essentially, your corporate, media, or ecommerce site could provide contextual media, content, and advertisement based on users’ info before they login.

[In the Future, The Era of Social Context Will Serve Personalized Content, Media, and Ads to Users based on their Social Networking Information]

Here’s an early example of a contextualized advertising campaign from VW (by agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky, read more about the modernist campaign) that’s intended to help prospects find the right model based on their preferences. Please note this isn’t yet the full entry into the era of social functionality as users have to manually submit their login info or user name (like this Twitter example below) and just examines recent tweets. When the era of social context matures, it will look beyond just profile info, but also behavioral data, friend data, location, and content analysis of explicit and implicit data.

Type 1: Context Ad based off of opt-in Twitter profile.

Above Ad: Enter your Twitter name to see a product recommendation

Type 2: Contextual Ad based off of Facebook profile.
Corey also pointed me in the direction of a second “Meet the VWs” Facebook app that asks users to opt in to analyze their profile and then recommends products based off simple profile info. Read the pros and cons from the smart folks at the Future of Ads of this Facebook advertising effort.

This Facebook App scanned my Facebook Profile to Suggest two products
Above image: Facebook recommended these products to me on the VW fan page

Future Expectations:
Expect social context to impact not just ads, but many websites in the future. Also, expect the accuracy to increase as social and behavioral data starts to merge.

Facebook, Twitter, have a tremendous amount of explicit and more importantly, implicit data that could serve up information about users, yet we should expect years of refinement for these engines to truly be accurate. Interestingly, the Twitter ad suggested I’d like the Jetta, yet the Facebook app suggested a Rabbit and Beetle, which I find funny as I’d never drive a Beetle, that’s really not me at all.

In the future, these ads, media, or recommendations should be more intelligent and also find friends with similar cars, or people with similar traits to me that I don’t know and suggest products. As user ID start to federate and connect with other such as Open ID and Facebook Connect, we should expect a higher degree of accuracy.

Then, users may choose to opt-in to expose parts of their identity as they surf the web on trusted sites to receive a contextual experience. For example, I may trust Amazon, eBay and Google search to expose my identity in exchange for a more personalized experience.

We should also expect a rash of privacy concerns and user backlashes to happen, even if they opt in, we’re just scratching the surface here. I have so much more to write on the topic of social context, but it’s 3am and I need to go back to bed, so I’ll save it for a future blog post.

Key Takeaways

  • The above ads are simple experiments of how context can be served up through social data
  • Expect this contextual content not to be limited to just ads, but also on media sites, ecommerce, corporate sites, and TV
  • Expect digital content to be contextual –even without express content of the users
  • During the early years, expect privacy concerns to overwhelm brands, causing them to rethink this approach
  • Although it will take years to perfect, expect context to increase CTR, and therefore the cost of ads
  • What did the Twitter ad and Facebook page recommend to you? Were they accurate recommendations?