social media

Why Companies Should Start Investing in Native Advertising

Why Companies Should Shift Away From Programmatic and Lean Towards Native Advertising

Written by Dylan Langei

word cloud - advertising

What is Programmatic Advertising?

Sounds complex huh? Or at least very calculated, and it is. Programmatic advertising is driving digital media buying practices forward by combining rich customer data with algorithmically driven buying platforms to make digital advertising dollars more effective in reaching target audiences. Whew, that was a mouth full. Programmatic ads are purchased in an auction based method, with the buyer paying whatever price an ad is worth at that given time - using surplus amounts of data to figure out the perfect ad, the right person, and the right time. As you can see, programmatic ads improve targeting while also streamlining ad purchases and transparency when it comes to a transactions particulars. Due to its effectiveness, eMarketer estimates the programmatic ad space will quadruple to $8.7 billion by 2017. Fairly large market for those annoying sidebar ads on your Pandora station, but hey, they're effective.

What is Native Advertising?

Rather than throwing ads next to relevant content, native ads are integrated directly into the content - providing a look and feel of an editorial piece. The most common form of native advertising is publisher-produced brand content, which is similar to a traditional advertorial - essentially a paid placement attempting to replicate that of an article. Meh, still think native ads will just be a passing fad? Business Insider estimates the native advertising market to reach around $18 billion by 2017. Yup, that's about $10 billion more than programmatic advertising by 2017. Oh, so now you're no longer slumped over in your computer chair?

Where Will Advertising Lean?

Advertising is always changing, because users are constantly changing their buying behaviors and how they engage with businesses. Therefore, there is no doubt in my mind that advertising will continue to move away from programmatic, and towards native. This does not mean I think native advertising is the eternal solution, but for now, it's very promising. Native advertising is less obtrusive, and feels more authentic. However, native ads can also be deceiving and pose potential problems for businesses. Even though native ads are meant to provide and feel like an editorial piece, they are still required to clearly state or display that the viewer is experiencing an ad. Failure to do so can destroy brand equity, and bring on legal implications. 

As a user of the internet and any space where ads may appear, wouldn't you rather experience a native ad than a programmatic one? That's what it's all about, user experience - businesses do not choose where advertising moves, consumers do. Personally, I prefer the native ad that is validated by a reputable podcast over a pop up ad that interrupts me from reading a blog post. But hey, I'm just one user.

Where Should Advertisers Migrate Their Ad Dollars?

NATIVE ADVERTISING. If you don't believe the numbers, just think like a consumer. What would you prefer? Nearly seamless integration of ads (native), or ugly boxes injected with advertising that is somewhat related to the content you're viewing (programmatic)? Also with the continuing surge of social media engagement, native advertising will continue to take over. It is very difficult to integrate programmatic advertising on social media outlets like Instagram (which has the most engaged user base), while a native advertising strategy doesn't seem too far fetched. 

Actually, native advertising is extremely prominent on Instagram. As seen above, Instagram has titled the post as "Sponsored" so the user base knows that they are ads. But the pictures and content are very native, in that they explain a scenario or a story - as an editorial would. These ads are not obtrusive, as an Instagram user can simply scroll right by them. They are also no where near ugly or clunky boxes of misleading offers. The growth of social media is the main reason I am fully backing native advertising, and you should too. Ready your troops, because native advertising is here to stay.

It's Not About the Selfies

How Selfies Are Corrupting the Comprehension of Social Media Strategy

Written by Dylan Langei

Unfortunately I am simply a pawn of a generation whom possess a misconceived interpretation of social media strategy. A common thought is, if I strategically angle the front facing camera of my iPhone 6 Plus to capture the good half of my face in the most flattering light, I will receive more Instagram likes. Strategy! On a social media platform! If it were that simple, MOZ wouldn't have written a 71-page Beginner's Guide to Social Media. Oddly enough, the beginner's guide did not mention perfecting selfie angles to amplify your like count once *insert sarcastic tone*. 

What is Social Media?

Well, social media is essentially any platform that allows users to interact online. It is called social media because users engage with and around it in a social context. The most well-known and popular social media platforms are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, and Tumblr. Although each platform has various uses and purposes, they all share the attribute of connecting users virtually. 

Why Should Businesses Use Social Media?

Let me start off by saying customer experience nor the brand starts with social media, but it should take your brand and solidify it, galvanize it, and bolster it. First off, by actively participating in social media platforms, a business is awarded with tons of opportunity to add value by engaging in conversations and turning customers into brand advocates. You do this by providing a great place of engagement for your community and help build valuable, authentic resources for your brand's niche.

Active participation in social media can also foster product development. At times customer feedback can be inconsistent or unreliable, but you should always listen to feedback provided through social media, take it in the context of everything else you know about your product and brand, and internalize it.

Social media can also encourage employee engagement, find and connect with new recruits, and even help with retention. HubSpot also mentions, when necessary, being able to publicly deal with customer problems. Some might see publicly addressing issues as detrimental to their brands image, why would you want others to know you made a mistake? However, if an issue is addressed properly, that customer may share their customer service experience with others on social media. This can lead to customer retention, and even new customer leads. Social media sounds pretty great now, right? 

How Should Businesses Use Social Media?

To begin social presence and implement the correct social media tactics, a business first must answer these questions. What is our brand voice and personality? What do we stand for, and what do we represent? What is our value proposition and differentiating factors? What are our defined visual branding elements (logo, font, colors, etc.)? These are essential questions to becoming successful with your social media platforms.

You must also have a solid idea of your buyer persona so that you may tailor your posts to that audience. You want your social media outlets to sound authentic and human, so that your audience can relate to your posts. Another essential component is tailoring your posts to the social media platform you are using. Twitter only allows for 140 character posts while LinkedIn has no character limit. These two posts are going to differ in length, and also the context of the post. LinkedIn should have a more serious tone compared to Twitter, because the user base on LinkedIn is more the business professional interested in informative posts, while most Twitter users are searching for entertainment. Write for your audience. This, once again, stems from understanding your buyer personas, what platforms they are using, and why. Once this is analyzed and understood you can create content that is either to learn and improve, explore and discover, or question and answer. 

What Companies Effectively Use Social Media?

With all this great talk about how valuable active participation in social media can be, you may be thinking, OK let's see the proof. There are many companies who are absolute social media gods in the virtual world. Many of them are well-known for their participation in a particular platform. Let's take a look.

YouTube - Old Spice: Old Spice is the epitome of a brand that knows how to leverage viral videos. With 452,378 subscribers to their YouTube channel, all enjoying their funny commercials to short video clips of why Old Spice deodorant and body wash makes you a man's man. Old Spice is actively posting videos (usually five a week) which keeps their audience constantly engaged with the brand.

Twitter - PizzaHut: PizzaHut knows how to create a very human-like Twitter feed to allow customers to relate to the brand. They are constantly engaging with Twitter followers through retweets and even following loyal customers back. PizzaHut follows over 80k users while being followed by over 1 million. On a regular basis their tweets look something like "Work now. Pizza later. #MotivationMonday." They are also quick to jump on Twitter trending hashtags like #NationalHighFiveDay and #EarthDay to provide their audience creative and funny pictures that connect the hashtag to their products. PizzaHut also integrates a bit of humor around well-known dates, like tax season:

Facebook - T-Mobile: T-Mobile is known for their customer service responses through Facebook. It is said that they have a response rate of 86%, the second overall best response rate behind KLM. With 5.1 million followers, this is a huge audience base to keep happy. This social devotion via Facebook has paid off, as T-Mobile is recognized as a leader in customer service. This is a bit out of the norm as the cell phone industry is not necessarily known for their quality customer service. This is a point of difference that T-Mobile is trying to prove, and they are doing it well.

There are many social media strategies, but remember, your strategy is contingent on your buyer persona. So don't forget to ask yourself: What is our brand voice and personality? What do we stand for, and what do we represent? What is our value proposition and differentiating factors? What are our defined visual branding elements (logo, font, colors, etc.)? Once you've answered these questions, you are ready to post selfies! Well, if that's what your audience wants.