Paid, Earned and Shared – Getting Rich with Social

"Networking" is a new column focused on the evolving roles of networks in online advertising.

Today's column is written by Alan Schanzer, Chief Strategy Officer of Undertone Networks.

networkingHistorically, media value was determined by a relatively simple calculation: divide campaign cost by the number of persons reached within a specified target segment expressed in thousands. Today, it’s clear that earned and social media are an increasingly important part of that equation. Reach, action, sentiment and engagement form the basis of a complex formula that is needed to determine media value.

First, a quick primer on terms, to ensure we’re all on the same page.

  • Paid media = exposure gained through fee-based advertising.
  • Earned media = coverage gained through editorial influence, like public and analyst relations.
  • Social media = awareness gained through grassroots action, often referred to as viral or shared exposure.

The focus of this piece is to explore how advertisers can synchronize their paid and social efforts to maximize campaign return. With the rise of social media – from user-generated content (UGC), to mass messaging through Twitter, the ubiquity of smart phones, etc. – brands have quickly jumped at these new opportunities to connect with consumers.

While we expect brands to have a social media strategy, we often hope that the messages delivered through paid media reinforce that position.

In my previous column, I emphasized the importance of control in network buys. In the world of social media, control is in the hands of the consumer. While content may be king again, increasingly, content is either created or shared by the user. In the social world, even the distribution of the message is outside the advertisers’ control.

Or is it?

I contend that marketers can leverage this valuable content but still retain brand security. While Undertone specifically eschews sites with user-generated content (eliminating the risk that our clients’ ads appear next to questionable content or objectionable images), we’re leveraging technology that puts the social functionality into the creative. This approach allows us to control where the ads are seen – the best inventory on the Web’s best sites – while facilitating the distribution of messages and assets across the social graph, which is the cornerstone of a great social media strategy.

It’s the convergence of social and rich media, powered by the efficiency and scale of the network. By incorporating viral functionality within the banner, there is no disruption to user experience. Brands can drive word-of-mouth, facilitate lead capture, or leverage high-def video. Advertisers can repurpose web content, catalog content, long- and short-form video, pictures or other s assets and distribute it at scale on brand-safe sites across the network.

Some exciting examples:

  • Long John Silver’s recently won an OMMA Members’ Choice Award for Best Integrated Online Campaign as part of a new product introduction that allowed users to receive mobile coupons – all generated from within the banner.
  • Ben & Jerry’s incorporated viral components into the creative to drive brand interaction. The creative allowed consumers to share with friends, become a Facebook Fan, and drive visitors to their target landing page, the goal of which was to encourage customers to “Do the World a Flavor” by creating the next, new Ben & Jerry’s flavor (for the ice cream lovers, the winner was Almond Delight).
  • Macy’s launched its 2009 holiday catalog with rich, in-banner, high-def content, including photos, video and product descriptions.

These types of “social rich” (you heard it here first) ads can improve performance by 30-50 percent. Perhaps even more exciting is the ability to distribute, measure, monitor and revise content anywhere and anytime. Customized sharing capabilities are built-in to the creative to encourage propagation across social sites, connected users and fans, calendars, mobile devices, and more.

There is little doubt that spending on social media will continue to rise for 2010. With that said, we’re still in a cautionary fiscal climate where every dollar matters. With creative units that put the power of social propagation into the banner, advertisers have a tremendous opportunity to repurpose existing assets at unprecedented scale. It’s an efficiency play that is just too good to be ignored. And it forces marketers to further consider the synergy between paid and shared media exposure. If aligned, complex formulas can and will be created to define the impact paid exposure has on the voice of the consumer, bringing advertisers one step closer to the goal line.

Follow Undertone Networks (@UndertoneNet) and AdExchanger.com (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

 

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