Social media advertising: A second take


Luke Brynley-Jones is a co-founder of Influence People, which runs social media conferences in the UK, Europe and USA. His next event, Social Media Advertising is on Monday 20th September in London.

So you have a social media strategy. Congratulations! The big question now is: have you integrated social media advertising?

It’s fair to say early experiments with social media advertising failed to deliver. Back in November 2007 when Facebook launched its Beacon ad network, it truly failed to light. At the same time banners and text ads on social networks produced derisory returns from lots of traffic.  The upside of these failures was the boom in engagement marketing, with marketers setting out to meet consumers halfway by making adverts more fun and interesting.

Companies like Lotame, the US-based ad network, pioneered the ROE (“return on engagement”) ad model, billing advertisers according to the time spent viewing, clicking and sharing their content, rather than on clicks. In fact, Lotame claims to monitor over 160 user actions – so they get lots of opportunity to charge.

We’ve also seen new approaches to profiling and targeting consumers. By mining and analysing publicly available social media data, then identifying known “connectors”, “influencers” or “mavens” within market segments and targeting them with fun and interesting adverts, some marketers have been able to increase engagement (especially sharing) and improve ROI.

At the same time social networks and, crucially, their users, have been evolving. A recent report from The Nielsen Company and Facebook demonstrated how adverts with just a tacit endorsement from a Facebook friend achieve significantly better results than standard banners.

Equally, Twitter’s Promoted Tweets, for which success depends on the popularity of each advert, offer an element of natural selection that puts control in the hands of users.

After a slow start, social media advertising is coming of age. Facebook is set to make $1 billion from advertising in 2010 and 100 million Farmville and Mafia Wars social gamers have created a huge new ad market in the last two years alone. If your social media strategy doesn’t include paid media – it’s probably time you took another look at social media advertising.

Luke has kindly offered our readers a 2 for 1 offer on tickets to Social Media Advertising 2010 until 10th Sept (that’s tomorrow!). Just email your booking confirmation with the name/email address of your guest to [email protected] and they’ll be issued with a free ticket.