While social advertising might not be the perfect solution for all marketers, it's likely that it could help your business reach AND convert mobile consumers, so it's worth assessing if it's right for you.
From The New York Times: "Google's Quarterly Results Show Its Continuing Struggle With Mobile Advertising"
From the Wall Street Journal: "Millennial Media CEO: 'I'm Not Happy With Where We Are'"
And finally, from AdWeek: "The Truth About Mobile Advertising? It's a House of Cards"
As snarky digital marketers, we often look at traditional marketers and think: "they're unable to adjust to new realities" or "they can't handle the complexity and dynamism of our world."
But, it turns out that digital marketers - when it comes to mobile advertising - are not adjusting to new realities and are seemingly afraid of the complexities.
Most of us see that mobile ad spend is expected to grow by 70 to 80 percent in 2014 and assume it's where we need to be. As we quickly look to get into the game, many of us start at display. We know all about creating and trafficking banners, we have resources dedicated to it, and moving some of our existing desktop spend to mobile is easy. Even the data management platforms (DMPs) enable mobile targeting - box checked.
Guess what? Buckle your seat belt, it's more complicated than that. Complexity doesn't scare you, right? You're a digital marketer, you got this.
Mobile ad spend is split among the three core channels - display, search, and social. Google claims the most market share despite its aforementioned struggles, Facebook and Twitter are taking share quickly, followed by Pandora, YP.com, and Millennial Media, who are all losing share. The last 25 percent of the market is in the fragmented "Other" category.
Google's share is largely driven by mobile search ads, which it strongly encourages desktop advertisers to buy. They also drive a bit of mobile display and finally a growing slice of mobile video advertising. Despite some success in mobile advertising, Google does have a few hurdles to overcome. Mobile is forcing down the search cost per click, as they cost less, and then there's the "problem" of mobile time spent in apps, where the Google search field is far less relevant and prevalent. Mobile banners are harder to target and notoriously underperform, driving down revenue. They also have that pesky accidental click problem. It seems video, which eMarketer says will be 50 percent mobile by 2018, is one of the only bright spots for Google. Believe me, I'm not counting them out, but they are definitely rooted in desktop advertising and the transition to mobile hasn't been as easy as they'd hoped.
Part of the problem is that the traditional desktop ad-tech stack, including newish innovations like programmatic buying and real-time bidding (Facebook's FBX as well), do not work in mobile. Mobile advertising requires a new ad-tech stack.
Focusing your mobile strategy on display and apps is irrational.
Social, specifically Facebook and Twitter today, but soon to include Instagram, Pinterest, and beyond, has emerged as the best way to reach mobile consumers.
Facebook and Twitter are leading the development of the new mobile ad-tech stack.
I won't bore you with how social has become a lucrative direct response channel or how the transition from community management and organic content marketing to paid advertising is causing brands and their agencies to completely rethink social. There's been plenty of pixel ink already spilled on those.
I will, however, share that social advertising shouldn't be seen as a niche of mobile advertising but should become your primary focus as you craft and iterate your mobile strategy.
For many, this is a daunting proposition.
"Make social the center of my mobile strategy? Our social infrastructure is focused on community management and customer support and our agencies are telling us it's all about mobile advertising and apps."
Step back, step away from the complexities of existing investments and what you think you know about social and mobile. Return to the core challenge you face - you must reach, engage, and convert mobile consumers. Today, the easiest and most effective way to do that is through social advertising.
The social networks are mobile-native. They've built their ad-tech stack and supporting ecosystem of partners on mobile (almost) from the start. They're not trying to take desktop technology and make it work in mobile, and this is a huge advantage to both them and you.
What once required a complicated mix of DMP, DSP, ad networks, analytics tools, and publishers passing data to each other and managing disparate campaigns across millions of sites is now collapsed down to just a few pieces.
To run a massive and successful Facebook campaign, all you need is a social ad buying tool integrated with a mobile landing page platform. They are usually self-service, so you or your agencies have all the control you need and they include access to almost everything the old stack does, and more:
Very few things in digital are black and white; there's lots and lots of gray where channels and vendors and consumer behavior overlaps. It would be irresponsible to suggest that social advertising is the perfect solution for everyone trying to reach mobile consumers. But if it's essential for your business to reach and convert mobile consumers, you better be using all the tools you have available to assess if social advertising is right for you.
Lastly, don't just buy some ads to grow your fan community or to drive people to your non-mobile-optimized website. It's just as easy and drives higher value outcomes to guide your key audiences from their newsfeeds to a rich mobile experience tuned for engagement and conversion.
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Marko Z Muellner has been a digital marketer for more than 18 years with deep experience in cross-channel, integrated, and multi-touch marketing and communications strategy, creative development, and account management. He has spent his time learning how digital and social media marketing is applied in nonprofits, international digital and PR agencies, start-ups, global sportswear and beer brands, and at a leading Web analytics and optimization company. This experience has brought him to the stage as a featured speaker and to the pages of top-tier publications as a columnist. His social media and digital marketing expertise have been featured in ClickZ, Luxury Daily, the SmartBlog on Social Media, Mobile Marketer, Social Fresh, and InsideFacebook to name a few. He is currently the digital vice president and group director at Edelman in the Portland, Oregon, office and he can be reached on Twitter at @markozm.
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