April 26, 2010

Maximizing the ROI of Facebook Ads On Facebook …frequency plus social currency equals dramatic increases in recall, awareness and purchase intent. That’s the conclusion and the prescription from a joint Nielsen-Facebook study of 800,000 Facebook users exposed to 125 campaigns from 70-odd CPC, retail and entertainment brands over 6 months. Titled “Understanding the Value of a Social Media Impression” and authored by Jon Gibs at Nielsen and Sean Bruich at Facebook, the focus was on three ad types … Paid Homepage Ads. Creative content, offers, deals and “Become a Fan” options that are bought and appear above the fold on users homepages. Targeted by a broad range of psycho-demographics, geography and keywords, this is similar to traditional small space or online advertising. Reach is limited only by budget. Facebook users recognize these as ads. Response is in the standard 2 percent direct marketing range. Social Impressions. Combine paid ad creative with social currency by including the names of users’ friends in the ad unit, which is served to user’s homepages above the fold using the same targeting criteria. Reach is partly a function of paid and passed-along impressions. Users see these units as ads with privileges. Organic Impressions. These earned media impressions are the News Feed messages served to existing fan pages that are passed along to friends of fans. These are the most persuasive and welcomed units but reach is limited by the current number of fans per brand. Generally these units have the most impact and the smallest reach. But you can’t buy more of them even though the study found a 24 percent lift in the number of users engaging with a campaign due to exposure to organic friend-driven messages. But not every fan will pass the word along. And not every friend of a fan will appreciate the commercial branded message. The secret to a successful campaign is combining the formats to achieve sufficient frequency and reach with plus the added persuasive mojo of social and organic impressions passed along from friends to friends; the ultimate in digitally-assisted word-of-mouth advertising. The units are complimentary and work best in a combined plan. Adding social advocacy units to a traditional homepage ad buy increases recall 60 percent, doubles awareness and quadruples purchase intent. Naturally more exposure drives more of everything just like other media. Those exposed to 10 or more messages had 15 percent higher brand recall. The success formula suggested by this data is … Build as big a fan base as you can. Encourage fans to enroll their friends. Offer special deals to stimulate fandom. Routinely serve them interesting content and incent them to pass your messages along. Buy homepage ads using psycho-demographic and geographic criteria. Test small batches before you roll out major campaigns. Test alternate creative executions and offers. Use events, holidays and the retail calendar as triggers. Experiment with social advocacy ads. Embed the names of friends into ads and see what happens. Count. Tweak. Try again. Create a 1-2 punch. Coordinate the messaging and the timing of a mini-campaign by linking the messages, images, offers in the different units and hoping that 1+1 will be much more than 2.
Ann Taylor Tries to Buy Off Bloggers Ann Taylor tried to schmear a bunch of bloggers and almost got busted by the FTC. This is good news because it will force bloggers to shill less and will put lazy PR guys on notice that payola shouldn’t be the currency of choice in the blogsphere.Here are the facts, as reported by Ad Age: Ann Taylor invited selected bloggers to preview the Summer 2010 Loft collection They promised those posting articles would be eligible for a “special gift” The “mystery card drawing” offered gift cards valued from $50 to $500 To cash in bloggers had to submit their posts to the company within 24 hours There was a sign at the event reminding bloggers that FTC rules require disclosure Whoever thought this campaign up clearly believes that “pay for play” is the rule in dealing with bloggers. The on-site signage was a CYA move that didn’t really fake out the FTC. This is an effort to get right up to the line and exploit bloggers in ways that are impossible in dealing with official journalists. Somebody probably thought that for a few bucks they might ignite a lot of attention because if they could get some action and attention on blogs, mainstream writers, who generally monitor blogs in their vertical coverage areas, might pile on. And eventually a PR snowball would build into serious coverage and some virility. I can visualize the pitch session, can’t you? Instead it didn’t really work, the campaign invited unwanted scrutiny from the FTC and the whole affair sullied the brand. Ann Taylor ducked the enforcement bullet because it was their first offense and because the only got a couple of stories and some of the bloggers actually disclosed the gifts. Shame on them. Ann Taylor has a legitimate story and should tell it in a legitimate way. Buying bloggers is bullshit and AT customers deserve better. [Full disclosure : I’m an AT loyalist . I led the team that launched their first e-commerce site in 1999.] Bloggers, yours truly included, can’t always be looking for freebies or have their hands out. Hordes of bloggers have taken all kinds of merchandise from desperate or cheap retailers and lazy PR people for years. But netizens aren’t stupid. They see through the scams, they smell the shills and they instinctively understand when they are being conned. The FTC rules and the surprising FTC scrutiny combined with the nascent threat of enforcement is a welcome activity to keep the blogsphere honest.

Danny Flamberg

I am a veteran marketing consultant working with leading and emerging brands

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