86% of your site visitors don’t look at ads.
The problem, of course, is that people don’t feel they’re relevant. Untargeted and generic. Certainly not helpful.
Even Facebook ads can be guilty, with one study showing that a series of Facebook ads delivered no emotional response. None whatsoever.
It should be no surprise then, that people are taking matters into their own hands.
Ad blocking technology has quadrupled in the last few years alone. That’s up to 48% of total consumers; estimated to cost publishers $22 billion… in just this year!
The writing’s on the wall. The vital signs don’t look good. Digital advertising, as we know it, is dying.
But it’s far from dead. The trick isn’t more ads. It’s better ones. Here’re 3 ways resurrect it.
Will Programmatic Advertising Save Advertising?
Programmatic advertising could drive 50% of digital ad sales (~$18 billion give or take) by 2018.
That number’s already up to 63% for Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG), and a whopping $3.71 billion spent on programmatic ads by retail companies.
It should be no surprise then, that programmatic advertising is touted by many in the industry as the future. A way out.
Which sounds good. But… WTF is it? How does it work?
There’s basically two versions: direct and real-time bidding.
In the first case, you buy guaranteed ad space without an auction.
And in the second, real-time bidding (or RTB, as it’s known in the biz), you compete in an auction kinda like Google AdWords, but for display ads. (AdWords has even dipped their toe into the programmatic waters, with offering new demographic targeting options on their display network.)
In just fractions of a second, an ad exchange will attempt to piece together information about a user and the page’s content to then auction off ad space to the highest bidder. So literally while the page is loading, the exchange selects who’s up and serves their ad.
The secret is machine learning.
A lowish-level of artificial intelligence that analyzes mind-numbing amounts of data to identify patterns and spot opportunities in real time. All before we dumb-ass humans can barely stop ourselves from drooling.
Artificial intelligence ain’t some futuristic, Terminator-type thing either. It’s already here, powering your search engine results (meet RankBrain, your latest SEO nightmare) and determining what does (or doesn’t) make it’s way past your spam filters. It’s also the key behind Facebook’s 98% accurate facial recognition tool, too.
Essentially programmatic advertising reduces a lot of the stuff that typically takes FOREVER for display advertisers – like the inventory searches and back-and-forth placements and manual trial and error we advertisers typically have to conduct – and instead uses automated decision-making tools to power real-time bidding.
The idea is to get these damn online auctions to run themselves, based on all kinds of predictive analysis and real-time tweaks or optimizations. Which would then put marketers to better use on bigger-picture areas of concern.
MarketingLand has an excellent, in-depth write-up about programmatic advertising. You should check it out when you get some free time (ha!).
The future is bright for programmatic advertising… if you can afford it (or the ‘hidden costs’ it requires). Lou Paskalis, a senior VP of enterprise media with Bank of America told AdAge:
“Between ad-serving and tech-targeting fees, you’re now starting to see more than 50 cents out of every dollar going to nonworking investments and less going to the publisher.”
But here’s the deal:
At the end of the day, the goal behind programmatic advertising is to (1) improve your ad placements, (2) refine your audiences, and (3) better tailor your creatives.
So let’s start there. Sans the million-dollar media buy commitment.
Let’s work backwards, reverse-engineering what programmatic advertising is attempting to do, and see how you can apply that to your own DIY-Facebook advertising efforts to wring more dollars from your campaigns (in an age where everyone is seemingly avoiding ads like the plague).
1. Ad Placements
Mobile RTB is “a very exciting frontier at the moment”, according to programmatic expert Ratko Vidakovic in his MarketingLand piece on the subject.
And every advertiser worth their salt knows why: usage has absolutely exploded, and yet nobody’s figured it out.
Like the Wild Wild West.
While mobile conversions still lag tablet or desktop regardless of platform though, it does have its place (ment. Get it?!).
Thankfully, Massimo’s already done the work for us:
The mobile newsfeed is great for discovery and engagement.
“Mobile users tend to ‘Like’ a lot. Users will discover your product on their phones… then buy it the next day on their desktop.”
Perfect. So what’s the problem?
Speed. Or, the lack thereof.
Retail mobile sites might take up to 6.9 seconds to load. Facebook estimates put it closer to 8 seconds. And data shows that if your site ain’t loading within 5 seconds, you stand to lose 74% of mobile visitors!
So while your site is loading, still loading, still loading, your customers are off to Amazon, buying, and buying, and buying.
The eCommerce industry alone stands to lose $500 billion (with a big, bold, B) in lost revenue.
Thankfully, there’s an app ad for that.
Facebook Instant Articles can deliver you content up to 10x faster on mobile devices. target=”_blank”Their results also show that using Facebook Instant Articles (instead of your slow ass website) can increase mobile CTR by 20% and result in 30% more shares all while decreasing abandonment by 70%.
Instant articles though shouldn’t just be the latest clickbaity news. But stuff that’s actually interesting or that people want to consume.
Canvas ads are another opportunity that leverages the technology underneath Instant Articles, to deliver new, creative experiences in the blink of an eye.
Advertising that evokes emotion has been reported to influence intent-to-by by 3-to-1 for television commercials and 2-to-1 for print ads. Emotions can even influence B2B sales by up to 71%.
These Canvas ads can pop-up on someone newsfeed, where TechCrunch reports that, “53% of Canvas users view at least half of it, while the average time on site is 31 seconds”.
So with Canvas, you can deliver brand-new, interactive experiences that are perfect for introducing new content, offers, or products. All while creating something that’s differentiated from the competition’s boring, static ads. And memorable for your potential customers.
Get these people to discover your stuff on their mobile devices, stick around for a bit, and then use that audience going forward for custom audiences and retargeting.
2. Refine Your Audiences
The highest performing ads (read: the ones that convert stuff) should all be retargeting in one form or another.
Problem was, general display ad retargeting used to just rely on basic cookie data without a whole lotta other stuff. So even though you knew this person hit your site in the last XX days, you didn’t really know anything about them.
Programmatic advertising is working on bringing in other data though, from third-party data sources, that will layer in demographics on top of your cookies. (All this talk of cookies is making me hungry.)
So the first step programmatic RTB is taking to improve ad relevance is to also factor in someone’s familial status, household income, race, and more.
Discovering new audiences is hard, without being able to rely on custom audiences, is hard.
One of the first places you always start is with media entities your customers might follow. Partnering with them might get expensive though. The alternative, is influencers.
“Influencer marketing content delivers 11x higher ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing”, according to a study from TapInfluence with Nielsen.
Influencers are named such because they typically sway 49% of people to purchase products based on their recommendations.
And Facebook has recently opened up their platform to new branded content opportunities with these people.
You can now tap into their brand awareness and gain credibility in front of their audience through a transparent partnership where you can see KPI’s on your investment.
Start with your personas, find the top sources of news or influencers, layer in interest inclusions or exclusions, and start building.
Because the key to successful advertising is audience targeting. Especially on Facebook, where better audience targeting outperforms better ad creatives any day of the week.
The second step is to this equation is context.
3. Better-Tailor Your Creatives
The next evolution of programmatic RTB platform is to pull in context around what a person may or may not be interested in.
For example, they’ll pull in someone’s past search history to see which keyphrases they were looking at, or which products they were shopping for.
They will also now allow advertisements to be automatically tailored with the page it’s showing up on. So a vegan recipe cookbook ad will only show up on hippie blogs (JK!).
Pages are essentially scanned, analyzed, and categorized so that you can better align it with your own criteria (again – at scale, in milliseconds, without human involvement).
Step forward, Dynamic Product Ads.
These babies dynamically generate on-the-fly, customizing content and creative based on someone’s past actions on your site.
So when someone is on your site looking and browsing at the latest Spa Kits, you can serve them up a highly relevant (not to mention, cost-effective) ad at the exact right time.
Shutterfly has seen 20%+ click-through rate increases using Dynamic Product Ads. And Target has seen a 20% increase in conversions over standard, static Facebook ads.
Then by syncing this data with your CRM, you can open up a whole new world of possibilities.
After all, omni-channel shopping is the world we live in. People jump from channel to channel, and device to device, prior to making a big decision.
So marketing automation should be a given. Abandoned shopping cart emails should be choreographed with Facebook retargeting. SMS can add a touch of urgency.
And hell, you can even add direct mail into this mix.
Mirroring your promotional activities directly after a consumer’s habits and behavior isn’t some newfangled trend or insight. It’s logical.
When you look at the statistics, it don’t look good.
Bleak and dreary. Uninviting and uninspiring.
And yet, there’s room for hope.
The ad technology space has never been more progressive or innovative, creating new opportunities faster than we can take advantage.
On Facebook, we can leverage placements better, especially on mobile with options like Instant Articles and Canvas. We can create branded partnerships with influencers to gain more cost-effective exposure. And we can better leverage our own contextual information to serve up product ads at the right time, that are choreographed with promotional messages in email, SMS, and even direct mail.
Programmatic advertising is opening up a world of new possibilities to save display ads across all networks.
But many of these same underlying principles have already been available to us on Facebook.