Apple’s recent announcement that it was going to be embracing ad blocking software has sparked some serious social debate and birth of the hashtag #adpocalypse. The move by Apple has brought into spotlight the morals and ethics behind the media industry and am sure will bring about another shift because of disruptive technology. The software is a response to consumer opinion, essentially, digital ads are annoying. They are intrusive, pre-roll ad units that give you no choice and hinder our experience on that particular website. They are also largely poorly targeted – utilising web behaviour collated by the enormity of cookies can only get us so far…
— Sophie Burrows (@s0phieburrows) September 15, 2015
Sparked by social conversation that swelled during Sarah Wood’s reportedly fantastic presentation during #SMWLDN and in the wake of attending an event with SocialBro on the future of paid advertising in social media it got me thinking…here are my key observation points:
This is a good thing for social platforms right?
Yes. Social data, richer than any other channel/medium/platform should allow us to target customers or any other recipient of our messaging in a highly relevant, timely and engaging manor. Brands and agencies are certainly turning to social more and more as customers demand a more personalised, relevant experience. In a time where as consumers, we are more savvy than ever before, we probably don’t really pay attention to the ads anyway? Social platforms are likely to be rubbing their hands as budget once spent across display networks moves across to native executions.
Imminent paid social deluge?
However, what this does mean is imminent deluge. Just like we talk about deluge of content as everyone switches to content marketing. Sponsored content is already flooding our news feeds, it’s not p*ssing everyone off quite yet but it certainly has the potential to as the rush comes. But to be honest, this was inevitable anyway, with or without ad blocking the tide is turning and at some point we are all going to get very wet.
Emphasis on being smart with targeting
It doesn’t have to feel like a deluge, not if we as brands and agencies take it upon ourselves to deliver our content to the right people and use the data at our disposal. The industry needs to move on from platform media buys and mass messaging anyway. There is just no need any more when we can use deep demographic data, conversation topics, profiles following, hashtags used, geo-location, job titles, groups, communities, custom audiences and build look-a-like audiences.
Why create the waste? Why be generic for the sake of reaching the masses and hoping something sticks?
Emphasis on creating content that people actually care about
We have the ability to understand more about our customers than ever before through a wealth of useful data to analyse. This is not to say that old methods such as surveys, focus groups and actual interactions directly with human beings are not valuable – there is just much more validation with scale – and we have that with social data, CRM, website and purchase behaviour.
The savvy customer of today doesn’t want to be sold to, nor will they fall for obvious marketing ploys. Building real connections with our customers is of the utmost importance (how much so really depends on the brand – we are not in social to have continuous conversation with loads of brands!). Sometimes it is just about knowing what it is they want, when, how and where they want it to be delivered to them. Functional is fine, but it doesn’t mean it has to be boring! All in all though, with the deluge of paid social will come a further deluge of content so it has to stand out, evoke emotion, drive action or it will get lost in the newsfeed mail!
What about when people get sick of paid social in the same way they do in the digital media space?
God, well, I am sure they will get sick of it. Let’s face it the principal of ad blocking spelling the end of current digital media as we know it is still a bit dramatic. For the moment in social media land, there is still a long way for the industry to take advantage of the power at our disposal. For the moment, they are still there on the platforms, they are still browsing, Liking, commenting, retweeting, pinning, sharing, clicking – But let’s cross that bridge when we come to it aye?! We still read every day about a Facebook migration yet there are currently 1.49 billion monthly active users on the platform. I think we will all be ok for a little while yet!