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What Advertising Strategies Work With Social Apps?

  |  September 7, 2010   |  Comments

Consider how these four companies connected with people through social activities on the iPhone or Facebook.

Are you thinking about how you can annoy people less and be more effective with your advertising? If not, start paying attention, because your competition is.

Digital marketers are shifting their advertising strategies on how they reach people in social apps. The old, impression-based advertising model in social apps doesn't work because it annoys people. Ever wonder why the cost of Facebook display ads is so low? People do not want to be interrupted by display ads when they are trying to play games with their friends. The same goes for display ads located within social apps in mobile. The mobile ad networks and publishers provide good air cover to help prop up their rates, but it is commonly accepted by most insiders that the majority of mobile ad impressions are going unsold. Marketers are finding that the right advertising strategy for social apps is to stop annoying people and to start focusing on ways to integrate with actual social activity.

Here are four examples of brands connecting with people through their true social activities:

Activity-Based Advertising on iPhone Apps

Bravo badges in Foursquare: In January, Bravo created badges that Foursquare users could earn by checking into locations linked to shows like "Top Chef" and "The Millionaire Matchmaker." The Foursquare app saw a 31 percent increase in downloads those two weeks.

Powermat on MyTown: Powermat, a company specializing in wireless charging stations, worked with Appssavvy to advertise in Booyah's MyTown. The Powermat campaign included a first-of-its-kind sweepstakes promotion on MyTown to enter to win Powermat's Wireless Charging System for iPhone by physically interacting with Powermat products in-store. Powermat saw an increase in recall of 38.2 percentage points to 43.3 percent.


Activity-Based Advertising on Facebook Applications

Cascadian Farm virtual good on FarmVille: Zynga, developer of the famous Farmville app on Facebook, launched a number of activity-based campaigns. Recently, over 310 million Cascadian Farm organic blueberries were planted by FarmVille players.


MTV interview on Social Interview: Appssavvy also created a campaign for MTV that ran on Social Interview. A Facebook application, Social Interview has an audience of more than 11 million monthly active users and was used to promote MTV's new original comedy, "The Hard Times of RJ Berger." More than two-thirds of Social Interview users who saw the "Hard Times" branded interview clicked to start the application - nearly seven times the average engagement rate.

As Damon Burrell, VP, marketing, at MTV Networks puts it, "Currently there is a fundamental shift going on in digital marketing, which we are embracing, especially as it relates to social media. The Hard Times of RJ Berger on Social Interview exemplifies this shift, as true engagement isn't about users clicking on a banner and coming to our site, but rather integrating them into the experience and providing something of value."

The trend toward activity-based advertising in social apps is not only a win for marketers, but it helps the publisher maintain a high level of engagement with its audience. As most social app developers will tell you, their most important measure of success is how large and how active their audience is in engaging with their social app. That's why application metrics sites like AppData for Facebook focus on the amount of active users of a unit of time, and not just the number of installs of a particular app.

When developing your advertising strategies for social apps, be sure to connect with people while the social activity is taking place in the app.

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Rob Weber

Rob Weber co-founded W3i in 2000, growing W3i to be a leader in app user acquisition and monetization. For 42 consecutive quarters the company continues to be profitable and has grown to over 120 employees. For more than a decade, Rob worked to create solutions to increase distribution, drive revenue, and heighten engagement for app developers, such as DeNA, Gree, Kabam, PocketGems, and many other indie and public developers. Under Rob's leadership, W3i recently launched a mobile offer exchange that includes partnerships with leading offer providers.

Rob's business philosophy is to provide a collaborative environment developing solutions that provide value to app developers, advertisers, agencies, and ad networks.

In addition, Rob shares his passion for apps, digital media, and entrepreneurship by serving on the board of several tech companies. Rob recently presented at MobileBeat, GamesBeat, GDC, GDC Online, APPNATION, iPhone/iPad App DevCon, and also judged Start-Up Weekends.

Rob is an angel investor in a number of game, social media, music, video, and mobile app start-ups.

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