Socially Enabled Ads: An Update

More online ads are becoming less about impressions and clicks and more about engagement, interaction, and sharing. All the ad units integrating social sharing functionality and content are taking this trend to the next level. Here’s a quick list of just a few I compiled with the help of Bianca Garcia, one of our social media planners.

Facebook’s Engagement Ads

By now, we all should know that Facebook’s engagement ads are the socially engaging/interactive home page ads. But some people may not have noticed that Facebook now combines certain ad functionalities to give the user (and advertiser) more opportunities to engage and connect.

For instance, these ads used to be just plain graphic plus text copy, or a single-focus ad: Give a Gift ad, Watch a Video, or Become a Fan. Now there are so many things we can do, all in one ad unit. For example, you can Watch a Video, RSVP to an Event, Take a Poll, and Become a Fan.

Of course, the two best things about these ads remain: the viral component and the ability to custom target. Any of these social actions taken by the user shows up in his/her news feed, and is then seen by their friends, spawning basically free publicity and viral spread. Custom targeting still lets advertisers target their Facebook ads by demographics (age, gender, geographic location), keywords found in the user’s profile, education, workplaces, relationships, and even languages.

An example of this is the engagement ad for “Grey’s Anatomy” season finale. Users can watch the video within the ad unit (it expands once the play button is hit) and RSVP to the event, virtually keeping the brand (“Grey’s Anatomy”) and the event (season ender episode) in their personal calendars.

Facebook Engagement Ad

Facebook’s New Inline Fanning and RSVP Ad Units

Advertisers who don’t want to spend (or can’t afford to meet) Facebook’s minimum monthly spend for home page engagement ads have the option of advertising on Facebook using the self-service tool. These are the box-type ads on the right-hand side of subsequent Facebook pages after the home page. These self-service ads are bought on a bidding strategy, either based on CPM (define) or CPC (define).

Up until a couple of weeks ago, advertisers who used these advertising space units were limited to just a graphic plus text copy. But now Facebook offers the new “inline fanning” option where users can become a fan with just one click, right within the ad unit. Another option is the RSVP unit, where users can RSVP to an event with just one click, also right within the ad unit.

An example of this new inline fanning ad is this ad from local Boston restaurant, Ivy, and an example of the RSVP ad is this ad for a wine-tasting dinner event:

Facebook Example Inline Fanning Facebook Example RSVP

Again, what’s interesting about these Facebook ads is that they were obviously targeted to Bianca: she lists “Grey’s Anatomy” as one of her favorite TV shows on her profile, she says she’s based in Boston, and she specifies wine under the “Interests” section.

YouTube’s Custom Home Page Masthead

YouTube’s home page video used to be a simple auto-play video in the small upper right-hand section. But now, the YouTube home page boasts of bigger, better, and more socially-engaging home page placements.

Most impressive is the custom masthead — not just an expanded video, it’s almost like a veritable mini-site within the YouTube home page, with options to play different videos, showcase photos, incorporate games, connect to the brand channel, and even show the latest tweets. As with all videos on YouTube, once a person actually watches one of your videos, videos can be rated, shared, added to the person’s favorites list, commented on, and embedded.

An example of YouTube’s home page masthead is Volvo’s placement a few months ago:

Youtube Custom Masthead

Google’s New Ad Format with Tweets

Intuit’s TurboTax was the first marketer to have its tweets streamed across the Google AdSense Network. Basically, this latest ad format (still being tested with a small number of advertisers and publishers) would let the advertiser dynamically insert their tweets into the display ad in real time and have it published across the vast Google network. This is interesting because it marries real-time data (tweets) with traditional media (display ads) and relevant Web content (because it will run on related pages on the Google network).

Turbotax Twitter Ad

Gadget Ads

Gadget ads, widgets ads, share-it ads, whatever you call them, these are the ads that have multiple functionalities within them (stream real-time videos or tweets, download a whitepaper, fill out a form, etc.) and it offers a person the option to “grab” the ad and share it, or let it live on social media networks, blogs, Web sites, even desktops. Similar to the Facebook and YouTube ads, these ads also have a great viral component because they can have chiclets built into them that allow people to post them on their profiles or share them with friends. See the ad for the movie “Leatherheads” below from the Clearspring widget gallery.

Leatherhead

Have we missed some? Please comment with your examples!

Join us for a one-day Online Marketing Summit in a city near you through July 1, 2009. Choose from one of 16 events designed to help interactive marketers do their jobs more effectively. All sessions are new this year and cover such topics as social media, e-mail marketing, search, and integrated marketing.

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