Online advertising has come a long way from annoying pop-ups and seizure-inducing animated banners. Recent technological innovations have enabled brands to deliver ads that are more relevant, more engaging, and more memorable than the gaudy ads of the past. Leveraging these tools can help your business stay ahead of the curve in online marketing and maximize the ROI of your ad budget.
Friends Who Share Together, Buy Together
The holy grail for marketers has always been information—information about people’s interests, their opinions, their tastes and their aspirations. Until recently, this would require conducting in-depth focus groups, sending out mass surveys, or relying upon self-proclaimed market research gurus whose methods and conclusions are questionable at best.
All of that changed with the rise of social networks, especially Facebook. Facebook is a goldmine of information for advertisers because users willingly share information about themselves. They essentially do the work for you. They will tell you what restaurants they dine at, what events they attend, and which brands they prefer. Every user’s profile contains a wealth of information that will help you target your ads to the right audience to ensure maximum engagement.
The real opportunity in social advertising, however, does not lay in people’s profiles, but in people’s networks (what Facebook calls their “social graph”). Why? Because a recommendation from a friend is one of the most powerful forms of advertising in the world. It’s the classic concept of social proof updated for the digital age.
The results are clear—social ads work. Studies show that ads with a social context (such as “Likes”) led to 68% ad recall, which is substantially higher than the recall for traditional display ads. Even more amazing, users who are shown social ads are 4X more likely to purchase the advertised product. It’s no wonder that some analysts predictthat Facebook will become the largest provider of display advertising by the end of 2011, displacing industry giants like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.
Think Outside the Banner
When’s the last time somebody actually enjoyed seeing your ad?
Banners don’t offer many opportunities for engagement; the only thing a user can do to a traditional banner ad is click on it. If the user doesn’t want to click on the ad, they have no other options for interaction, and that’s the end of that.
The new breed of interactive ads, on the other hand, offer users a variety of options for engaging with the ad besides either clicking it or ignoring it. Here are just a few of the features that can be embedded in an interactive ad:
- Real-time polls
- Social media feeds from blogs, Twitter, or Facebook
- A countdown timer
- A slide deck
- Forms that users can fill out and submit directly to you
- A photo slideshow
- A video overlay via YouTube or Vimeo
These ads catch users’ eyes with their rich media content and interactive features, leading them to pay more attention to the ad, and by association, pay more attention to your brand as well. So now instead of being faced with the black and white choice of click or ignore, users can decide that they want to interact with your ad as well.
Getting noticed online is relatively easy—being remembered is much harder. The average person is exposed to over 3,000 brands a day, and ad recall has been steadily declining over the past few decades as digital media has proliferated and attention spans have dropped. Unfortunately this means that countless ad impressions, and thus ad dollars, are going to waste.
Retargeting addresses this problem by serving your ads to people who have already interacted with your brand in some way, either by opening one of your e-mails, visiting your website, or engaging with your social media presence. Following these interactions, these people will continue to see your ads as they surf the web, even on high-profile sites such as the New York Times and Huffington Post.
How is this wizardry possible? Retargeting firms typically have access to all of the major ad networks, allowing them to serve your ads on virtually any website that features display advertising. As a result, your brand’s online visibility will be magnified immensely, your visitors will be exposed to your ads more often, and return visits and conversions will increase.
As technology advances, so will your audience’s expectations. When it comes to online advertising, what worked yesterday won’t necessarily work tomorrow. Continuous experimentation and innovation is the best way your small business can guarantee that you’ll stay ahead of the curve and ensure your messages resonate with as many people as possible.
Hafez Adel is a Marketing Associate at ReTargeter, a self-serve display retargeting platform.