The paid social media oligarchy made up of Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube may soon have to share the crown as competing social media platforms get a second look from advertisers.
As the pandemic caused advertisers to follow shoppers online and Apple’s recent crackdown on privacy has made tracking capabilities difficult on Facebook, the discussion about diversifying media spending has shifted from discussing water coolers to a plan in action.
Facebook and Instagram are still the crème de la crème when it comes to social media ad spend, according to media buyers, thanks to their massive scope and unmatched targeting capabilities. However, platforms such as TikTok, Pinterest and Snapchat have stepped up with their own offers. Advertisers are slowly paying attention.
Media buyers say platforms like LinkedIn, Triller, Twitch, and Reddit have audiences that are too niche to serve a wide general audience.
To get a feel for the landscape before the fourth quarter, Digiday spoke to five social media experts and media buyers, who shared their thoughts on the current social media landscape, weighing who will win big this year and who will take the crown Year 2022.
Facebook and Instagram
Since Facebook introduced its advertising system in 2007, it has been the gold standard in social media advertising. With its robust interest targeting, first and third party data, conversion, and other offerings, it’s an offering that any media buyer would rave about. That deal only got sweeter when it bought Instagram in 2012.
But for the first time in a long time, Facebook and Instagram have challengers as more advertisers invest money to diversify ad spend in hopes of becoming less reliant on Facebook’s targeting. According to media buyers, this is mainly due to Apple’s recent crackdown on tracking and data protection with the introduction of iOS14.
But even with these changes, and as more and more platforms like Snapchat and TikTok continue to improve the offering of promotional products and expand their user base, Facebook and its features will continue to dominate paid social space, according to media buyers.
“Although platforms have remained pretty much walled gardens, Facebook has more connections and the ability to better follow them,” said the first media buyer Digiday spoke to, who requested anonymity. “So you generally see a higher ROI just because the pipes are more connected.”
In the past few years, Snapchat has managed to break into the social media ecosystem and create a better pitch for advertisers after betting heavily on its Gen Z audience and direct response skills. Media buyers say that interest in the platform is growing massively again, especially among direct customer brands. Gaming and app-based brands are also attracting interest, “because Snapchat promotes this crucial element of performance for them better than other channels, especially through its non-skippable story ads in full-screen mode in the Discover area, which have excellent playback time / interaction rates”, said Timo Armoo, founder and CEO of the social media and influencer marketing agency Fanbytes.
The platform geared towards Generation Z has certainly found a place at the winners’ table, for every media buyer. However, the same thing that attracts DTC advertisers (aka direct reply and a variety of curated content on the Explore tab) may turn others off. “Unless you follow a lot of people, you really only get things in your Discover area,” said the first media buyer, skimming the idea that curated content is mostly for the beauty and entertainment industries and leaves little room for others .
With these parameters, it won’t be easy for the platform to scale beyond its current scope of beauty and entertainment brands, executives said.
While Pinterest flies under the radar, according to media buyers, the platform’s features similar to Facebook, such as targeting capabilities, are making it increasingly attractive.
According to the first media buyer, Pinterest’s ad placements and CPMs (although they didn’t provide details on current CPM prices) are efficient. They also developed a more robust tracking system and worked in-house to integrate better measurements with better data. It has also introduced brand-safe influencer programs and its own version of Instagram Stories.
At the beginning of this year, Pinterest introduced its shopping list function and thus advanced further into the social commerce area. The platform is more of a niche, however, as it lacks the storytelling capabilities seen on platforms like TikTok and Instagram, and it may not be considered by advertisers looking for re-targeting capabilities, Elijah said Schneider, CEO of the social marketing agency Modifly, who added that it works more. as a hybrid between Google and Facebook or even something like Amazon in view of its visual search functionality. “In reality, it’s a platform of discovery. It’s a visual search platform, ”said Schneider.
A major selling point for Pinterest is brand security. It’s something the platform is touting to advertisers even though they’re not getting enough credit, the first media buyer said. In July, the visual-based platform introduced a new policy banning weight loss ads, in addition to its already strict advertising policy.
TikTok is currently the golden kid of social media, and is still working to sell its offerings of ad blockers to advertisers who are looking to grow organically rather than investing ad money. However, it is this organic reach (and its remarkable, ever-growing audience) that has piqued advertisers’ interest. “Brands need to match that authenticity and aesthetic if they are to have a chance to resonate with the platform’s passionate, creator-driven community,” said Abby Hill, strategy director at Dagger, a full-service marketing agency.
Right now, TikTok’s ad unit deals are expensive, especially with larger products like hashtag challenges or front page takeovers. According to previous Digiday reports, full-page acquisitions and larger campaigns can cost anywhere from $ 1.5 million to $ 2 million in ad spend. Given the hashtag challenges, advertisers run the risk of inflated metrics as developers use trending hashtags for discoverability. “I think the balance is that you’re still getting a pretty low CPM, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that all of the impressions I get from it are the most qualified,” said the first media buyer.
It may have the audience, but there is still room to grow, said Phil Lewicki, Dagger’s media officer. “Newer additions like their first-party brand lift study and increasing auction products give advertisers more options and data,” added Lewicki.
Similar to Pinterest, TikTok is creeping further into the e-commerce space. On Tuesday, the short video app announced plans to work with Shopify to test a new in-app shopping experience.
Media buyers say Twitter is having a fast move that is breaking guidelines, much like the other social media titans it was co-founded with. The last appearance of this was seen with the rollback of its Instagram story-like feature Fleets. The platform’s fearlessness in introducing new features and capabilities for both users and advertisers makes it a viable option for ad spending, the premier media buyer said.
Late last year, Twitter rolled out a swipable carousel ad feature, which media buyers say is positioning Twitter as a viable competitor to visually-based platforms like Instagram.
While its user base pales in comparison to other platforms (according to Pew Research, 22% of US adults reported using Twitter in 2019, compared to 69% of Facebook usage), Twitter offers real-time marketing capabilities that other platforms can not.
Lewicki also noted the platform’s custom ad formats, such as brand notifications and instant unlock cards, which offer unique opportunities for brand engagement.
But until Twitter really takes a stance on becoming a brand-safe environment, it will lag other platforms according to media buyers. “As an advertiser, you can act as a [much] negative keyword targeting and avoid appearing on profiles but it’s just a hard universe to control, “said the first media buyer.
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