"Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Today’s column is written by Mollie Spilman, chief revenue officer at Criteo.
Last month, Facebook launched its new Reactions buttons, allowing its 1.6 billion users to express how they feel about status updates, check-ins and other content-driven posts that appear in their news feeds. Six animated emojis represent the following feelings: like, love, ha ha, wow, sad and angry.
Though seemingly a light move, the launch of Reactions actually represents a major shift for the digital ad industry. For years, Facebook users have longed for more ways to respond to posts – a way to display an emotion without having to comment.
They got what they wanted and now brands are champing at the bit, eager to capitalize on the ad opportunity in front of them. And, whether Facebook knows it or not, the $17.9 billion-revenue company has a chance to expand into analytics.
The value of Reactions to consumers, advertisers and Facebook are in the early days, but the implications are big and very exciting for the future of advertising.
Emojis Get A Big ‘Like’ From Consumers
Approaching its seventh birthday, the “like” button is quite limiting and has long been due for an upgrade.
To like a post is often not the best reply, especially if sadness and grievance are a better representation of a feeling. As quoted recently in USA Today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said it himself, “Not every moment you want to share is happy. … Sometimes you want to share something sad or frustrating.”
In the same article, news feed director Tom Alison said Facebook has been intentional about understanding what people are trying to communicate on the social network and adopting ways to make it easier for them. By learning about its users and giving them new ways to express their emotions, Facebook is really speaking to its audience – a tech-savvy, younger group who is expressive and empowered, wanting their voices to be heard in a meaningful way.
With more Reactions available to consumers, they’ll likely engage even more. And, as brands get involved and encourage a variety of emoji responses, we’ll see more from consumers on Facebook than ever before. If you don’t believe me, just check your Facebook news feed. Your friends are already rapidly “loving” and “wowing” posts.
Brands Can Now Get Even More Personal
Advertisers have long been using Facebook to target consumers with products and services. By analyzing consumer behaviors on Facebook, they’ve improved the accuracy of their advertisements and, as a result, ROI. With Reactions, Facebook is taking it up a notch. By knowing exactly how people feel about a range of posts, including topics, products, brands and prices, Reactions have opened the door for Facebook’s 2 million advertisers (and counting) by allowing them to get much more personal and relevant.
Already getting a head start, for example, is Chevrolet. The car manufacturer put out a video ad encouraging viewers to “love” the Malibu’s new redesign rather than just “like” it. The real power of Reactions for advertisers will be to inspire and influence them before analyzing them to enhance advertising capabilities.
All emojis currently carry equal weight from a numerical and analytical perspective and are only counted as a like, with the content that gets the most attention pushed to the top. That’s likely to change soon. It won’t be long before Facebook starts to differentiate Reactions for advertisers to evaluate and act on, and machine learning will kick in, pushing only the most relevant content to each individual’s feed.
A New Revenue Stream For Facebook
Facebook has solid analytics capabilities through Facebook Insights, but when it comes to Reactions, advertisers are limited to measuring likes. Measuring a range of emojis and applying the learnings aren’t yet competencies the tool offers.
I wouldn’t be surprised if soon Facebook enhances its analytics tool to include the new ways people can feel about something. The moment that becomes possible, advertisers will quickly begin to analyze consumer preferences through emojis to improve advertising, making it more personal for each consumer.
Advertisers that are doing their own number crunching will likely be ahead of the curve in gleaning valuable information from their consumers. For now, the process should also be reasonable since there are only six emojis. But, as we watch the future of Reactions, it will be interesting to see if the social network alters the emoji choices or expands options in the future.
Reactions is a win for empowered and vocal consumers who get more options to express themselves. Advertisers will also be able to learn more about their audiences and interact with consumers with custom-made content. And Facebook has the opportunity to create a new revenue stream through an analytics tool.
If history is any indicator, other social media sites will follow in Facebook’s footsteps by adopting emoji-like expressions. Something we all can “wow” about.