Social advertising is any form of advertising that appears on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Linkedin, Weibo, Wechat, Vkontakte etc. Sometimes YouTube is grouped with these platforms, though strictly speaking it's not a social media platform because it has very limited functionality for user interaction.
By definition, social advertising means brands have paid to place their content on these platforms. While many brands still post unpaid updates to "fans" on these platforms, the newsfeed algorithms dictate that unpaid activity reaches very few people. Hence the concept of brands being able to reach people "for free" on social media is no longer an important part of the strategy for large advertisers.
The ad formats that each platform offers are controlled and dictated by each platform. Consequently, most ad formats are unique, i.e. "native" to each platform, and advertisers need to adapt their ads to each context in order to achieve the optimal impact. This has created a huge diversity in choices, for example, the formats offered by different platforms currently include:
- Facebook: photo ads, video ads, carousel ads, slideshows, lead ads etc.
- Twitter: Promoted Accounts, Promoted Trends, and Promoted Tweets and videos.
- Instagram: Snap ads, Stories, Geofilters, Lenses.
At the same time, the platform owners also dictate which metrics are offered to evaluate success and even differ in definitions of basic concepts such as what constitutes a "video view" (e.g. Facebook says a video is viewed if watched for 3 seconds, Snapchat defines a view as soon as a video is opened, Instagram video ads require 3 seconds but Instagram's story video ad format registers a view once opened).
Marketers are increasingly uncomfortable with the myriad different metrics and evaluation approaches that each platform employs. In recent months, P&G, Unilever and Martin Sorrell have spoken out about these platforms being both the "player and referee" of performance.
This creates an opportunity for Ipsos as an independent 3rd party who offer a consistent set of brand metrics, validated to real world sales and brand-building outcomes, that allow advertisers to compare performance across platforms to determine the most effective way to spend budgets and optimise ads to the specific contexts of each platform. This is the focus of our Connect:Digital and Connect:Live approaches.