The subject of online advertorials is always somewhat controversial. These types of campaigns may not be the most candid, but how many progressive digital ads are? Whether it’s search engine marketing, in-text advertising, or sponsored articles on blogs, ads are infiltrating editorial content in increasingly imaginative ways.
Enter “influencer marketing,” in which marketers partner with influential online figures to boost exposure and sales. With their celebrity endorsements, companies like Ad.ly and Sponsored Tweets can be counted among the major players in this space. In a way, so can social media advertising platform MyLikes.
MyLikes has been a hot topic among digital marketers in recent months, garnering plenty of press and launching some high-profile campaigns. Back on Oscar night in February, the ad platform helped to orchestrate a campaign for luxury fashion site Gilt Groupe by enlisting reality TV stars Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian to tweet about the fashion statements made on the red carpet. It’s this notion of pairing advertising with social media that makes the company unique. It isn’t just about using celebrity influence to push products. It’s about using the influence of all social media users to increase the authenticity and perceived value of brands.
How It Works
About 80 percent of MyLikes campaigns employ YouTube and Twitter, although advertisers can use Tumblr as well, and all initiatives begin in the same place: on the company’s online campaign creation platform. Advertisers describe their campaign and provide a destination URL, select specific states or U.S. cities to target, and choose a campaign category (such as autos, comedy, food, and marketing). It’s this information that the social publishers who work with MyLikes use to select the campaigns they’d like to endorse by tweeting a Sponsored Like, creating a Sponsored Video, or posting a Sponsored Like to Tumblr.
While the program doesn’t currently operate on an auction basis, each publisher is given a “social score” based on engagement metrics like number of comments, “likes,” and retweets, and this score affects the price per ad. Those publishers with a high social score can charge more per click to its advertisers, so advertisers eager to work with publishers who boast a good track record must be prepared to set a higher CPC when creating their campaigns.
Who It Works for
“Social publishers can pick and customize ad-copy which allows them to really tailor the ads for their audiences,” says Bindu Reddy, CEO of MyLikes, Inc., who previously worked as a Google Apps product lead (in fact, more than half of the MyLikes executive team has previous Google experience). “Consumers and readers get to read and engage with sponsored tweets and posts that have been customized for them. Finally advertisers, are able to tap into an engaged and captive audience as opposed to hoping to catch a reader’s attention with a banner ad that tends to be distracting more than engaging.”
In other words, there’s something for everyone. Publishers (MyLikes currently works with 250,000 of them) profit from relevant advertising and an enhanced revenue stream; consumers receive a customized dashboard of branded offers on products and services that mesh with their interests, and the opportunity to share about them online; and advertisers can capitalize on the influence of these consumers to increase interest in their products. An important feature of the ads for marketers is that they’re transparent; Reddy stresses that posts and tweets always use the “ad” or “spon” tag to ensure that readers are clear on where the message is coming from. “We have done several experiments and have found that readers click on tweets and sponsored MyLikes based on how relevant it is to them, and not on whether they are sponsored or not,” she says.
This kind of campaign can, in theory, work for most any brand; social media is now influential enough in and of itself to warrant dedicated ad dollars. It’s those who are hoping to increase their Facebook “likes,” up their video views, and drive additional site traffic, however, who MyLikes is currently helping the most.
MyLikes seems to answer a fundamental question that advertisers have been asking for years: are consumers growing so blind to advertising that their campaigns are no longer relevant? The industry is working hard to remedy this issue by introducing new, more engaging ad formats. With its focus on social media, MyLikes is certainly doing its part. “We think advertorials are the best form for advertising for everyone concerned,” Reddy says. Marketers everywhere are surely hoping that their target audiences agree.
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