Kick Ad Blocking in the Ass with Meaningful Marketing
By Maggie Malek
As the sun sets on Advertising Week, and the ad blocking conversation continues to get more intense, we’re reminded of the panic by advertisers when TiVo was first released and consumers could suddenly fast-forward through TV commercials. While the effect that these new ad blocking apps will have on the publishing industry remains to be seen, the premise of consumers giving ads the runaround isn’t new. Just as happened with TiVo, new ways to reach consumers will arise for brands in today’s ad blocking environment.
However, it’s time that we as advertisers finally address the issue head on. Yes, ads fuel a great deal of publishers’ great content that is very beneficial for the consumer. But as long as we keep pushing out messaging that our consumers don’t care about, they will find a creative way to block them. The result: ad blocking pressures brands to create more relevant content and experiences that matter to their consumers. After all, 47 percent of U.S. web surfers were already blocking online banner ads and pre-roll. When I discuss this issue with my agency’s clients, I offer up one powerful antidote to ad blocking: integrated and sophisticated social media programs that serve up more of what consumers prefer—meaningful content, delivered where and when they need it, that gets them talking about the brands.
As the battle of the ad blockers loom, consider these four crucial points when creating social media programs that are impactful—and break through the ad blocking impasse.
They want you to create personally meaningful content
Consumers are demanding a more personalized experience from brands. In fact, 50% of consumers want their personal information used to coordinate a better overall experience, and express frustration when retailers don’t factor those elements of their purchase behavior into the customer journey. Remember: a frustrated consumer is an ad blocking consumer.
They want you to get to know them
Your consumers are asking you to learn about them. To win the hearts and minds of consumers, brands have to engage in some serious listening and data digging to get it right. If you don’t understand what makes your customer tick, you cannot create a social media program (paid or otherwise) that will resonate with her any more than a banner ad will.
The data online is rich. We use listening and analytics tools like KNIME that aggregate data in new ways, allowing us to understand more about consumer behaviors than ever before. That understanding informs more data-driven social media, targeted content marketing programs, and real-time marketing decisions. We dig deep and ask: What is she looking for online? What does she care about? What content is she reading? Who is she following?
If you create an experience online that your consumers actually care about, I promise they will share it
Once we know the answers to those questions we can create a social advertising program that works. For example, we manage the paid and earned social media programs for the Shell Houston Open. Our goal is to drive attendance and ticket sales not only for golf fans but for females and millennials as well. Instead of just creating one Facebook advertising program and delivering the same messaging to all of those audiences, we matched specific copy and creative to specific keywords in order to reach different audiences and drive sales by target demographic. We then monitored how each program was converting and swapped out creative to drive clicks to the website. Our CTR ended up being higher than the Facebook reported average and we successfully drove ticket sales and awareness with our new audiences despite those ‘pesky ad blockers’.
Ignite meaningful conversations with them
You have your social data … maybe you’re even using social media logins on your website; now it’s time to amp up the conversation via integrated, cross-platform tactics. With a mix of organic and sponsored social media content, social media advertising, and more, you can reach your consumers in new ways with experiences they can relate to.
To that end, avoid being generic! With all that amazing information at our fingertips (deep demographic data, RSS feeds, hashtags used, location, job, favorite book, custom audiences, look-a-like audiences, profiles following, and so on) we can create highly targeted, impactful messages.
Users have lots of places to play in the social space, and numerous brands competing for their attention. If your conversations are flat and off target rather than compelling and data-driven, you will annoy people and lead them to quickly end the conversation by downloading those ad blockers or unfollowing you on your social channels.
Budget well to reach them
Social media done right is a very important investment, so budget well for it. With 1.36 billion people using Facebook, how much is their attention worth to you? With the majority of marketers increasing their social media advertising budgets this year across a variety of social channels, make a budget that keeps you competitive.
Remember: a frustrated consumer is an ad blocking consumer
Just as television advertising has gone through its changes in recent years due to technology, so will online advertising. Today’s savvy customer does not want to be sold to but still wants to engage with you. So stop worrying about ad blockers—worry about building and refining your social media programs instead. Explore how to deliver on your customer experience with the tech that enables it. If you create an experience online that your consumers actually care about, I promise they will share it.
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