Top tips: How to “flip the switch” on your social media ad success

Top tips: How to "flip the switch" on your social media ad success

Paul Nasse, Managing Director, Northern Europe at Integral Ad Science (IAS), discusses how brands can utilise data to run their social advertising campaigns at scale and drive those all-important business outcomes.

What should brands consider when investing their ad budgets with social platforms?

The modern buyer journey intrinsically includes numerous social media touchpoints. Not only has social media risen at a tremendous rate, but has also expanded across a wider range of platforms.

Global social media ad spend is expected to reach £4.9m in 2021. This reflects the rising number of global social media users, which grew to 3.96 billion in 2020, an increase of more than 10% over the previous year. This now means more than half the world’s population (51%) use social media.

Given this strong performance, visibility into the effectiveness of a brand’s spend on social platforms in 2021 will be crucial. Marketers are under increased pressure to ensure their budgets are working hard and measurement is the key to understanding advertising effectiveness on social platforms.

Brands are rightly calling for better transparency and visibility into how effectively their media is being spent. Marketers should always access independently verified data across the walled gardens and understand how data is actionable to ensure the most efficient and effective social media campaigns.

As advertising across social platforms is scaled, brands need confidence that their social buys are reaching humans, free from invalid traffic and are viewable. This is achieved through deepend third-party integrations that provide trusted insights. Brands also need assurance that any third-party measurement partner adheres to industry-standards, alongside providing metrics specific to each social platform.

How can marketers get real value from their ad data that will help them allocate spend across social media?

Brands can establish a framework to analyse spend and ensure ads are distributed in the correct social environment by requesting weekly or even daily reports to continually assess performance. From those reports, available from most third-party verification partners, marketers should be able to:

  • Verify impressions are served within the intended environment and evaluate how viewability performance varies between environments
  • Access independent data to understand how viewability differs from one format to another. For example, there may be a real difference in display versus video, which could influence future spend and targeting parameters on platforms
  • Utilise both creative and placement time-in-view data to gain a deeper understanding of engagement across platforms
  • Identify creative viewability wear-out and determine the right time to refresh a creative, both mid-flight as well as for follow-up campaigns
  • Invest in audience segments that have higher viewability, with a lower cost per objective

The IAS Industry Pulse Report surveyed advertising professionals on the key trends that will dominate 2021 and found that most are likely to adjust social media ad spend if they feel that they have insufficient media quality metrics.

Leveraging verification solutions will be key for social platforms to improve overall media quality, identify the highest quality placements and formats in a fast-paced environment, and maximise ROI of ad budgets.

How can brands buy social inventory at scale, even with context in mind?

Initially, social platforms were seen purely as a space for user-generated content and the unpredictable nature of this made marketers cautious. As a result, efforts to improve content detection are ongoing and social platforms are continuing to partner with third-party verification providers. These partnerships enable platforms to provide brands with data-informed insights on the media being purchased. Brands are more confident in the knowledge that sophisticated technology is in place to help them align social content seamlessly with brand goals and messaging to keep pace with the multi-channel consumer.

2020 introduced various media narratives for brands to navigate and as a result, contextual targeting played a big role. As the year evolved, the conversation moved from the black and white binary focus of brand safety to the more nuanced and bespoke brand suitability. Brands can successfully scale social media advertisement — now the focus has shifted to quality.

Brand suitability considers the meaning, context, and potential implications of online content, specific to an actual brand’s needs. Brand suitability is about much more than avoiding ad placements alongside obviously inappropriate content – it’s about identifying the places that drive the best outcomes for a brand.

The holy trinity is achieving reach, engagement and high quality media placements. So it is no surprise that almost half of the industry sees social media as a high priority in their 2021 media strategy, according to IAS’s recent survey of global advertising experts.

By utilising contextual and semantic technologies, marketers can build the nuanced understanding needed to proactively protect both their ad spend and brand reputation in a suitable context at scale. There’s no denying the power of social platforms – there is a very real opportunity for it to become even more impactful through increased transparency into media quality and associated metrics across these environments.

Social media platforms are one of the most effective channels when it comes to digital advertising and this will only increase in 2021, providing a level of audience reach and engagement unparalleled by other channels.

By Paul Nasse
Managing Director, Northern Europe
Integral Ad Science (IAS)