Scoping for Paid Social in 2016

We all appreciate that technology-led changes are transforming the way people consume content. OTT TV services like NetFlix, Amazon Prime and catch-up TV like BBCiPlayer have changed when (and often on what screen) we watch our favourite TV shows. We stream music now. With the Subscription models incorporated by these services and ad-blockers affecting in-browser advertising, it’s getting harder to reach certain audiences where they are spending most of their time consuming content. Typically people are consuming a lot more, but it’s getting harder to reach them. 

Arguably the biggest opportunity to reach targeted audiences at scale, is in social. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and messenger lifestyle platforms like WeChat and LINE are now content curation centres, visited by 2 billion people worldwide (half of which are in Asia) and featuring content from the world’s top publishers but also, crucially, content from advertisers

Yet many brands are still not leveraging the scale of these platforms, nor their data and targeting capabilities

Tell-tale signs include:

This leads to a lack of appreciation of what paid social can do at a strategic level to drive brand growth and a a result social content budgets tend to be thin. Digital agencies (particularly in Asian markets) are often bought in to produce social content because the creative agency ‘costs too much.’ Their limited scopes then mean brands do not leverage the power social has to offer.


Competing for attention

The implications of the above are crucial when we consider that the Facebook newsfeed is still 97% made up of non-promoted content from friends and followed pages.

Social platforms curate content that the user is most likely to want to see based on their behaviour. This includes friends, media publishers, celebrities, opinion leaders etc etc.

Social ads are not just in competition for attention and memorability with a bunch of ads in an ad break, but with all these other sources of typically ‘opted in’ content.

Therefore the understanding of peoples behaviour, interests and where they are in the purchase funnel allows for more informed targeting and stronger results.

Social marketing down the funnel

You may say that content marketing down the funnel works for phones, cars or cameras but not for lower value CPG products. However even if your brand doesn’t have e-commerce (and therefore online purchase infrastructure) right now, agencies should still be scoped to develop campaigns that deliver against purchase funnel metrics like awareness, consideration, favourability and key message association across social platforms. These would be prioritised based on your communications objectives.

These metrics then challenge your agencies to deliver:

  • Scale (to see shifts in awareness by reaching millions)
  • Content that resonates with the audience (consideration)
  • That over time will make people like your brand more (favourability)
  • And that delivers the key message of your campaign to build your brands equity in accordance with your comms platform

This last point is crucial, yet is so often missed. As a brand the equity is often the key differentiator (being the value proposition that gives the brand the right to charge a price premium) social needs to be scoped to develop the equity in the right way. This isn’t difficult; it’s typically the communication objective on your annual brief.

Finally, add purchase intent to this and you’re as low down the funnel you’re going to get without online sales data. However hopefully your research team has the budget to model the offline sales and you’ll be able to see the contribution that came from social that, in 95% of cases I’ve seen, has higher ROI than TV.


Leveraging social for insights

Social listening is a somewhat abused term that is too often taken to mean following what people are saying about your brand.  Like it or not, your brand is unlikely to be the axis of social conversation for your audience.

Social platforms are however, as their name suggest, social. People are sharing, re-tweeting and commenting and providing a wealth of in the moment and historic information on interests, behaviours, interactions and much more.

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 21.45.31This is again why it’s key to either understand who your core audience is or break your audience down and identify different social narratives that can be actioned in accordance with the brand’s umbrella comms platform. (A great tool I tried recently for this is called Ground Signal for location based insights.)

Let’s take a fictitious example. You could be marketing canned iced coffee with an objective of increasing penetration with 18-35 urban men and building brand association with ‘concentration.’ You may find that you’re seeing an increase in tweeting and posting of street art in areas university students hang out.  You’d then develop stories based on street artists work, what inspires them, their different styles with concentration weaved into the narrative. Other interests would be identified for other groups, but the point is your agency is scoped to identify these insights then create the stories that will be played out on social across the funnel to different audiences.

So in summary, when finalising your digital agency scope for 2016, think about whether:

  • The scope serves to address your overall marketing objectives (not ‘digital objectives’) and is therefore integrated with your overall comms platform and brand purpose
  • The scope challenges the agency to leverage the targeting (and retargeting) capabilities of digital platforms
  • The agency is scoped to create content for different sub-audiences based on interests and insights 
  • The content will be customised to the viewing and interaction habits of the different platforms they are scoped to produce content for

Internally you’ll want to make sure you have the investment aside to measure the campaigns against the KPI’s that matter and ensure there is enough media budget (typically >75%) to drive the necessary scale required to meet your marketing objectives.


N.B. This photo was taken on New Years Day 2016 from Mount Batur, Bali.

The blue ‘right person’ image is taken from Millward Brown.


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