With 1.59bn users and rising, the movement of advertising budgets towards Facebook seems an unstoppable tide. But to get the best results, brand owners must work to optimise their campaigns by harnessing the strengths and maximising the efficiencies of multiple platforms rather than addressing each in isolation.
With many social platforms operating as closed ecosystems, keen to defend their uniquely accurate data from being devalued by other parties, achieving unduplicated reach across more than one platform is as much based on educated guesswork as it is with any other channel.
Change is coming, however.
Facebook has long provided the means to automatically optimise delivery across desktop, mobile and more recently the Facebook Audience Network. But since September, Instagram has been added as an additional placement. At first glance, this new check box appears innocuous. In reality, it represents an entirely new source of inventory (400m users globally). Providing just one extra variable presents a much greater opportunity for optimisation and efficiency.
The importance of Facebook’s move here is twofold. First, opening Instagram means there’s greater opportunity to balance the objectives of all parties: delivery of marketing objective; cost efficiency of delivering said marketing objective; platform yield. The platform algorithm is responsible this balance and when done correctly, it's a win for all parties.
Second, it means for the first time, advertisers can run activity across multiple platforms and devices but with a single customer view. This is incredibly significant because, unlike in traditional display, Facebook provide this based on real people, not cookies, which present a whole host of challenges around accuracy and frequency control. With Messenger and WhatsApp also in Facebook’s ‘Family of Apps’, there could be great potential for brands to offer consolidated 1:1 communication with their consumers, regardless of platform or mechanism.
Anyone in doubt of the potential impact of this should consider a campaign we ran earlier this year in January for Viacom-owned channel TV Land to promote its TV series Teachers. An entrainment client, the primary campaign objective was reach to drive tune in of the first episode.
Using Placement Optimisation, we deployed $53k to consumers who would only ever see the advertising on Facebook and $53k to consumers who could see advertising across Facebook and Instagram. Control groups were not exposed to any ads. Placement Optimisation achieved seven per cent greater reach – around 600,000 people – and 16 per cent more ad impressions than the Facebook-only placement, plus a six per cent saving in CPM.
The benefits are clear: cost efficiency and more control over communications with consumers. And if, moving forward, you factor in a future possibility of bundling in chat services, a brand owner has the opportunity to instigate a conversation through advertising, manage any resulting dialogue with that consumer on a personal basis and handle any subsequent commerce. This could also create cost-efficiency in order fulfilment, too.
Placement is a crucial component of optimisation but there are still many other facets that impact on a campaign’s performance, such as creative, bid type, audience and demographic. Add to this the growing complexity within the social ecosystem and the expanding number of social platforms, technology vendors have an important role to play in responding to this fast changing marketplace to add value for brand owners.
Meanwhile, as these innovations keep happening, all of us – social platforms and technology partners – will be freed up to develop new tools and services to evolve campaign efficiency to another level. And this, surely, will only be another win for platforms, advertisers and consumers.
Tim Page is Vice President, Revenue at Adaptly.You can hear more on this topic this afternoon (Monday 18 April) at Advertising Week Europe. Page is joined on stage at 12.30pm (Sun Studio) by Ed Couchman from Facebook and Deborah Holloway from Clarins to explore how advertisers can leverage the strengths of Facebook and Instagram to deliver impactful business results.