Is it just us or is it difficult to go a week in ad-land without reading an article that predicts the imminent death of social media advertising?
To the fatalists, we say this: ponder the following.
Is the internet dead? Is email marketing dead? Are display ads dead? Is search marketing dead? No, no, no and no. All of these things still live today, but have improved and will continue evolving to meet the simultaneous evolving needs and desires of consumers.
Simply put, social media has triggered a paradigm shift in the way the world communicates. With nearly 70% of the American population using some form of social media on a daily basis and adoption continuing to rise, it’s clear that it’s become part of the daily fabric of our lives. In fact, worldwide social media ad spend has doubled over the past two years — rising from $16bn in 2014 to $31bn in 2016. It’s not going away in 2017 (or 2018 for that matter) and as long as people continue using it, advertisers will continue having success reaching people through it.
Now that’s not to say that the pressure for innovation on social advertising platforms and the pressure on brands to produce relevant advertising messages isn’t there. It’s a common misconception that people hate advertising. They actually don’t. People hate irrelevant advertising. They hate advertising that doesn’t help them achieve a solution to their problem(s). They hate advertising that is disruptive. However, relevant advertising can be helpful, useful and even dare we say, delightful. Now, it’s fair to say that not all social media platforms are innovating at the rate that consumers demand and not all brands are stepping up to the plate in terms of addressing creative solutions to consumers’ pain points, and that is wherein the problem and skepticism about the validity and success of social media marketing lies.
The ways that advertisers reach people through social media will undoubtedly change as it matures and evolves and brands must do more to break through obstacles such as ad blockers and commercial-free streaming. The recent uptick in Influencer marketing—using bloggers or Instagrammers with large fan bases and highly curated content to promote products in a much more authentic feeling manner than traditional, detectable ads—is a great example of this and has worked extremely well for our clients in the past 6 months. Now, we’re not saying it’s the right fit for every project or speaking for every case, but looking at our own data, for example, we’ve seen up to a 5x increase in ad spend ROI using this approach. Of course, this is assuming you’re doing it right; choosing influencers who are a good fit with your brand, and ensuring that the promotions are integrated tastefully but within the realms of acceptable guidelines for promotions, but the data is significant any way you slice it.
It’s also important to realize that like all iterations that came before it, Influencer Marketing won’t last forever. Platforms will change and advertisers will need to keep innovating to stay ahead of moving goalposts. But whatever the next industry revolution is, phenomenon and trends like these happen because social media advertising is very much alive — so much so that huge brands like Tommy Hilfiger have gone all-in on it.
We for one, are watching this space.