Rich Media and Social Media: A Match Made in Marketing Heaven

  |  May 15, 2013   |  Comments

By combining social media insights and rich media innovation, brands can enjoy increased user engagement, consumer loyalty, and social ROI.

Without a doubt, rich media ads have been delivering increasingly above-benchmark results for advertisers, often boosting engagement rates to three times that of traditional ads! Rich media ads are attracting a growing share of marketing budgets worldwide, and have become such a powerful ingredient in marketing recipes that the IAB has even adopted a new set of ad units called "Rising Stars." These and other brand-friendly rich media placements tap into the latest animation technologies to provide a richer canvas for creating highly impactful brand experiences that reach and engage quality consumer audiences.

Social networks offer marketers the chance to engage their audiences in an informal yet meaningful way, leveraging their real-time social interactions to become part of an authentic, relevant conversation. Social sites like Facebook, Foursquare, and Twitter are tailor-made for bringing brands and consumers together. Social media advertising has been proven to boost engagement, so much so that research firm BIA/Kelsey predicts that social media advertising revenue will grow to nearly $11 billion in 2017, up from $4.7 billion in 2012 - an 18.6 percent annual growth rate.

So what happens when marketers integrate two of the most successful, engaging forms of advertising? The result, unsurprisingly, is engagement of super power strength! Combining an extremely compelling ad format with an authentic, personal communication channel results in consumers who are more open to engaging with brands, bring friends into the conversation, and complete calls-to-action like clicking through to websites and pressing "Add to Cart."

With the increasing focus on native placements like Promoted Posts and Tweets, it remains imperative that brands deliver advertising experiences that seamlessly blend into the user experience, while offering content that is both relevant and compelling enough to stand out in the feed. And, as social networks offer up increasingly bigger canvases for brand advertisers, there's a growing opportunity to capitalize on rich media ads that include videos, product showcases, photo carousels, and more - all within a social, shareable environment. The challenge then is a catch-22 - brands must blend in yet stand out all at the same time!

The key to delivering this tall order is in leveraging social data to create even more resonant and powerful campaigns. The best social media marketers are great talkers, but even better listeners. An individual's likes, needs, opinions, and interactions - all readily available in real time across social networks - can tell a complete consumer story and enable marketers to determine the best way to reach that person and nurture a relationship. With the right tools to filter through the onslaught of social actions and chatter, advertisers can pinpoint and target niche audiences that are ripe for engagement and conversion, and then use rich media to tell the right story with sight, sound, and motion.

For instance, imagine a Promoted Post from an auto brand that displays the vehicle's features via video while playing heavy metal music; an individual who has posted frustrations with the car shopping process on his Facebook wall and lists Pantera and Iron Maiden as favorite bands on his profile would be likely to respond favorably to that ad. Or, envision a news feed placement showcasing an interactive closet full of designer clothes available on consignment, targeted toward moms who shop at Walmart but love Versace. The possibilities are endless.

Interactive games have also seen great success on social media, and "advergaming" has come a long way since the cheesy old days of flashing banner ads offering a free iPod if you hit the dancing monkey. Rich media posts inviting social media users to play a game or take a quiz and share the results are a great way to both engage a consumer on a personal level, but also encourage them to spread the word to their friends.

Ultimately, social media marketing leverages the fact that users are willing and happy to engage and take action in a fair exchange of value, and precisely targeted rich media ads give consumers what they want in return: relevant, compelling, entertaining, and useful content. By combining social media insights and rich media innovation, brands can enjoy increased user engagement, consumer loyalty, and - you guessed it - social ROI.

Image on home page via Shutterstock.

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Dilip Venkatachari

Dilip is CEO and co-founder of Compass Labs. He previously led Google's mobile ads business and ran PayPal's risk and fraud management, financial services, and compliance. Dilip has co-founded and led two successful start-up companies -CashEdge and CommerceSoft - after stints at McKinsey and Goldman Sachs. Dilip has an MBA from the Harvard Business School, M.S. in electrical engineering from Rice University, and a B.Tech in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.

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