Jay Samit is CEO of SVnetwork, a social ad network.
AdExchanger.com: How does your previous experience inform the vision and strategy for SVnetwork?
Coming from a company that spent over a billion dollars each year on advertising, I was searching for a better way for brands to connect with their consumers. We needed a platform that would empower consumers to select when and how they engage with a brand and away for them to share what they like with their friends.
What problem is SVnetwork solving?
Banner and display advertising simply are not effective. People ignore banners. SVnetwork’s performance brand advertising solution engages people with brand advertising so well that our solution has a 100x higher click through rate than display advertising.
Furthermore, virtually all television, radio, print, and Internet advertising is disruptive. Non-interactive media are by their very nature required to interrupt the consumer and insert the marketer’s message. But by putting consumers in charge of when and where they would like to interact, incentivized engagements on the SVnetwork enable consumers to decide how and with whom they would like to engage with a brand. By self-selecting social media engagements from the SVnetwork, consumers have a greater likelihood of spending time with the message, completing the engagement and sharing the advertisement with their social community across Facebook and Twitter.
What is it about gaming that provides a better opportunity for the marketer and the gamer to interact?
Gamers are focused, engaged and seeking immediate gratification. By exchanging their time and attention for virtual goods, these consumers have a positive brand experience. Getting consumers to become brand ambassadors has always been the Holy Grail of marketers, and tools such as Twitter and Facebook connect have made it easier than ever to share movie trailers, digital coupons, and advertorials.
For example, SVnetwork’s campaign for Microsoft Bing on Farmville was aimed at generating fans for the search engine on Facebook. Bing acquired 425,000 new fans in less than one day (a 360% jump) by targeting Zynga’s social gamers. Microsoft’s data showed that 70% of the fans generated through the actually engagement visited Bing in the month following the initial engagement, and these fans were 2.2 times more likely to use Bing than "organically-generated" fans. Gamers deliver results for brand campaigns, pure and simple.
Given the potential for understanding the user through interaction and the analysis of data, how accurate is targeting in a social environment versus other digital mediums? Is scale possible for the marketer?
We reach over 80 million unique consumers per month, so scale is not an issue. The average consumer spends 40 seconds engaging with our brands – they are so engaged because we are able to target the right message to the right audience. The difference that we provide over alternative advertising options such as display advertising is that all of our engagements are self-selected and user-initiated. Consumers are given a choice of which brands they personally would like to interact with in exchange for something like really want, and this makes ads relevant on a personal level. The tools we have developed at SVnetwork enable us to target our users in a non-invasive manner yet provide them with relevant brand messaging.
What are the common misperceptions you see with marketers today and social targeting?
This is a favorite topic of mine. Many marketers spend a great deal of energy developing complex ways to have banner and display advertising hyper-targeted only to generate an average click through rate of one-tenth of one percent. Why work so hard to have your message ignored? 88% of the consumers we reach engage with the brand and complete the video or interactive experience.
How does SVnetwork differentiate its offering with others in the space?
By tapping into individuals’ motivations, engagements on the SVnetwork provide meaningful value-exchanges at a scale unrivaled by other ad platforms. Alternative advertising methods in digital media cannot deliver the personalization or level of engagement that our performance brand advertising delivers. Again, the self-selecting nature of the interaction makes for a much more personal, one-on-one relationship between the brand and the consumer. Again, when compared to display advertising, SVnetwork delivers 100 times higher click rates, 4 times the media value, and 9 times the impact on intent to purchase.
Publishers in the SVnetwork have identified the passions that drive hundreds of millions of consumers to their sites each month. Incentivitized engagements merely tap into those passions and provide consumers with instant gratification. For example, by completing a brand engagement, the 30 million monthly users of Facebook Causes who want to make a positive impact with their actions raise money for the charities they are passionate about. Zynga’s 80 million Farmville players complete engagements for farm cash to further the development of their virtual agribusiness. IMVU’s 3D community of 50 million registered users complete engagements to outfit their avatars with the latest stylings from their catalog of over 4 million virtual goods.
What do you tell marketers when they're considering working with you - and have little or no knowledge of social media?
We like to explain to marketers that they now have the opportunity to omit the words "impression" and "target" and instead describe their performance with words like "engagement," "time spent," and "user-initiated." Performance brand advertising adds real people, not impressions, to the conversation between brands and the audiences they serve. On average 20-40% of consumers responding to SVnetwork engagements share the brand message to an average of 160 people in their personal network.
I also explain to marketers how television, radio, and print advertising is becoming less and less effective every day. Today the vast majority of brand advertising dollars are overly concentrated in media where consumers are spending less than 25% of their time. The social media revolution is about the billions of conversations, tweets, postings, and feeds created daily by users for their extended social network. Yet, less than 3% of online media dollars are targeting this burgeoning world of consumer-generated content. Social media engagement advertising on SVnetwork removes the middleman and inserts a brand’s message directly in the center of the purchase funnel, improving a brand or product’s consideration during the period when consumers are gathering opinions and listening to word of mouth. Friends provide endorsement, which in turn influences purchase intent.
What's your view on Facebook as they move into the advertising and media space? Can they rival Google? How do you see it playing out?
He who satisfies the consumer best wins.
And... your view to the oft-asked question: "When will brand dollars begin to migrate online in a way commensurate with time spent online?"
The movement of media dollars has begun. In 2010, over one third of the top 100 largest advertisers launched campaigns incorporating incentivized social media engagements on the SVnetwork with millions of consumers participating. In the past year, the biggest brands have moved into social media performance advertising with SVnetwork. Microsoft, Coca Cola, Sony, Disney, Universal, AT&T, P&G, Nestle, Oreo, Toyota, HTC, Kia, MTV, Visa, Sprint, Apple, GE, Nabisco, Miller, Fox, CBS, and dozens of other brands have run engagement campaigns on our network.
Consumers on the SVnetwork spend an average of 40 seconds interacting with a brand. The long duration of time spent interacting with the brand has a direct impact on consumers’ intent to purchase. Brands on the SVnetwork realize 9 times the impact on intent to purchase goods or services from advertisers across many industries including entertainment, automotive, food and beverage, consumer packaged goods, healthcare, travel, technology, and electronics.
What are a few milestones that you'd like to accomplish in 12 months? And will you need more funding?
We are opening our European office this quarter and working towards providing global marketing solutions for global brands. We reach millions of international consumers every day and can target by language, geography, and social score. The next year is really about getting more deeply integrated into the thinking, strategy, and planning of the brands we work with and the creative talents at their agencies.