If you’ve been noticing fewer clicks on your box and banner ads, it may have nothing to do with your keywords, your ad copy or your budget. It may be because today’s aesthetic consumers aren’t seeing your ads at all.
That’s because consumers are relying less on search to find the information they need and more on social media. And when it comes to connecting with them in such venues, banner ads are a bust. Chalk it up to increasing banner ad blindness or the space constraints of mobile — either way, the solution is not to pour more money into ads people aren’t seeing, but rather, to make sure your advertising is social, as well.
So what exactly is social advertising? Basically, the term refers to online marketing efforts that are based not just on a web-user’s actions — search queries, sites visited, etc. — but also on that user’s social network. The idea is that those social conversations — likes, dislikes, referrals, etc. — can be leveraged to produce ads that are a lot more visible.
Of course, it should come as no surprise that social advertising is also a way for the major social networks to leverage their value to marketers. Here’s how Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained the concept during the company’s recent second-quarter earnings call:
We believe that the more our advertising includes interesting content from people you care about, the more marketers will be able to create advertising that adds value to people’s experience… For example, if I like a restaurant, then my friends might see that I like that place, and that’s likely a more convincing ad than anything the restaurant would produce on its own. That’s an example of aligning social activity and ads.
That “alignment” can take many forms:
- On Facebook, marketers can create Sponsored Stories, which appear as updates in users’ News Feeds based on their friends’ actions.
- On Twitter, Promoted Tweets can be created that will appear at the top of both search results and followers’ timelines.
- And just last week, Foursquare, the location-based social network, announced a pilot program called Promoted Updates that lets marketers tap into users’ friends recommendations to promote their offerings.
At this point, the jury is still out on how consumers feel about having their referrals and recommendations turned into endorsement/advertisements but it’s clear that the genie is out of the bottle. And with no cure for banner ad blindness in sight, as it were, the shift to social advertising is only going to accelerate.