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Why Targeted Social Ads Are a Good Thing (Just Hear Me Out)

This article originally appeared on CoreyPadveen.com.

Recently, Adblock Plus announced that it would start serving ads, which is of course, the most predictably ironic thing to happen online in some time. But my question is this: are targeted social ads really that bad?

No; they’re not.

Admittedly, in answering this question, I’m a little bias. After all, if it wasn’t for things like social ads and the industry in which they find themselves, I’d probably be out of a job. This one, anyway. But my professional reliance on advertising notwithstanding, I still think that targeted social ads are, in fact, a good thing. The problem is with the lack of knowledge marketers have about their capabilities, resulting in the removal of the word ‘targeted’ from the equation.

Sick of advertising

An Explosion in Advertising

Call it what you want – direct advertising, social media advertising, content marketing, influencer outreach – paid media is paid media in all its forms. And, considering we have seen the amount of branded content we are exposed to on a daily basis increase by tenfold in the last three decades (about 5,000 pieces of branded content per day, by the way) I can understand why consumers are so sick of it. In this generation of free, the last thing we want is to have our highly tailored experience online ruined with ad content we didn’t ask for, right? And yet, there we are, at every turn, facing a brand new ad.

Advertising is nothing new. Broadcasting messages to a wide audience dates back about 6,000 years (in the form of flash banner ads, obviously) and modern advertising (arguably) dates back to 1836, when ‘La Presse’ in France sold space in its newspaper so that it could lower its price to consumers. We’ve grown accustomed to seeing these ads, we might just have hit a tipping point in terms of how much irrelevant content we are willing to take in. And right there is why targeted social ads can be a good thing.

Getting to Know You

Social presents an incredible opportunity to advertisers that so few are properly identifying. Blanketing your ads to the general public will lead to a higher cost-per-click, a lower click-through rate and an overall underperforming campaign. That’s unfortunate when social provides the tools necessary to generate the exact opposite.

By properly identifying your audience and drilling down into the specifics that make up a persona, you can serve ads that fit right into their online experience. That means that instead of angrily resisting your content, they will be much more likely to explore it. This, of course, won’t always be the case, but by implementing these kinds of strategies, marketers can begin to join in on the experience of social as opposed to taking away from it. This leads users to seek out the ad blocking software that has grown so rapidly in the last few years.

Alas, this is largely not the case. The simplicity with which marketers can use these ad platforms and the cost effectiveness of running large-scale campaigns with generic messages has rendered the social audience exhausted. Targeted social ads can mean a greater connection to your audience, and the first steps in the development of a deeper connection, but so few brands are properly utilizing that strategy. Until they do, social ads are going to be more of an experience detractor rather than something that can benefit both sides of the transaction.

What Is Exhaustive Audience Marketing?

The concept of Exhaustive Audience Marketing has the potential to save marketers big dollars on their advertising efforts – if they take the time to learn about the applications.

We have regularly written about the tremendous potential that exists when it comes to our proprietary Incremental Bidding System, and the potential that can be extracted through the practice of Exhaustive Audience Marketing is no less impressive.

When it comes to social advertising, budgets can go a very long way. We’ve conducted several studies internally to determine the value of a dollar on social media versus other media (primarily SEM dollars) and have found that when it comes to social, your money packs a punch. Sometimes upwards of a tenfold value punch. But to extract that value, there are certain practices that need to be observed. An Incremental Bidding System is a part of that, but the umbrella under which that practice is housed is referred to as Exhaustive Audience Marketing, a concept developed by t2 Marketing.

How It Works

Though the concept can extend to media outside of Facebook advertising, we’ll focus primarily on the social media giant for simplicity.

If you’ve properly analyzed your audience data, then you’ve likely developed hypertargted audience clusters made up of similarly defined users. Of course, this goes a step further than traditional demographics (especially when we’re talking about Facebook). A hypertargeted cluster, though smaller than, say, an email list, is made up of users that not only fit similar traditional demographics, but also follow similar behavioral patterns, interests and buying tendencies.

For each of these clusters, you’ll have created ad sets with tailored messaging based on the criteria mentioned above. Now it’s time to take those ads and push them to an audience with a significantly higher likelihood that they will convert. But you don’t want to spend more than you have to. How do you do it?

Let’s think of our audience as a series of ripples in the water.

Exhaustive Audience Marketing Ripples

Right at the center is your most relevant audience. These are the prospects (though few in number) that fit your targets almost exactly, and that have the highest likelihood of engaging with your content (seeing as how it was designed to appeal specifically to them). In that first circle is a group of prospect somewhat larger that come very close to that ideal audience, but aren’t exact.

As you move further and further out, the pools grow, and while the audience becomes somewhat less exactly targeted, the audience members are still relevant in some capacity, though not necessarily an audience that is apt for immediate engagement. They may take a little extra push, but they still fall under the umbrella of prospects.

You can also think of it in terms of a lead score, but with somewhat more of a social makeup. Your marketing efforts become a little bit more exhaustive as you reach the users on the outskirts of this pool, and therefore, the cost to acquire or engage these users might be somewhat higher.

Incremental Bidding Systems

It is here that Incremental Bidding Systems come into play. These individuals are all capable of being engaged with at different prices. For those prospects that fall exactly in the middle of the pool, you can acquire those audience members for next to nothing (if not nothing). An exceedingly low bid (possibly even lower than what Facebook recommends in some cases) still has potential. They key is to extract that potential fully before moving up to another increment.

Exhaustive Audience Marketing

When running a Facebook ad campaign, you may feel inclined to allow Facebook to set the ‘optimal’ bid for your ads, but you can rest assured that while you will receive clicks, you’ll burn through your budget much faster and receive a fraction of the potential clicks that could come.

Why would you pay $1.03 for a click that could be obtained for $0.24? When you know that there is an option to avoid that, you’ll certainly choose that option. Essentially, you’ll want to pay attention to the click-through rate and the click volume you’re receiving in the backend of Facebook on a regular basis (daily if not hourly, depending on the length of a campaign).

Exhaustive Audience Marketing Works with Incremental Bidding Systems

When you begin to see those two numbers dip (shown in red above), you’re likely reaching the end of the potential at a certain bid. At that point, it’s time to increase your bid (slightly) in order to extract the potential at another level. This process should continue until you’ve completed your budget. In other words, exhaust your audience potential at each bid level before increasing your bid.

If you run two campaigns side-by-side, one with Facebook automatically optimizing your bids, the other with a strategy like this one implemented, you’ll quickly see a difference. Although it might take a little more work, you’ll see exceptionally higher results.

Conclusion

Exhaustive Audience Marketing is not something that comes about easily. It requires an understanding of your social and audience data, the creation of hypertargeted audience clusters and associated content, and a good understanding of how Facebook’s ad system works. These are not skills that are developed overnight, but if you take the time to learn what can be done and implement these systems properly, you can expect significant results.

Look for more information on Exhaustive Audience Marketing and Incremental Bidding Systems on the t2 Marketing blog!

How to Optimize Advertising Budgets on Facebook

In order to drive positive results from Facebook advertising, it is important that marketers optimize advertising budgets.

Facebook advertising is a hugely useful asset, but it is so easy to see budgets spiral out of control when they are not being properly allocated. In order to truly get the most out of Facebook ads, marketers need to learn how to optimize advertising budgets.

In our latest eBook series, How-to with t2, we cover everything from simple applications to advanced practices in simple, easy to follow steps. In this first issue of the series, we cover the process marketers need to follow in order to optimize advertising budgets on Facebook using t2’s proprietary Incremental Bidding System.

Click here or on the image below to download the eBook today and find out how you can get the most out of your ad budget the next time you decide to run a Facebook ad campaign!

How-to with t2 Optimize Advertising Budgets on Facebook Cover Image

4 Ways Instagram Ads Will Benefit Marketers

Instagram recently opened its ad API, and readily available Instagram ads can mean great things for marketers.

For quite a while now, Instagram ads have been something reserved for the most elite brands, those willing to spend the high costs and take the time needed to execute the programs. Now, as Instagram opens its API to the public, virtually any marketer will be able to reap the benefits of the Instagram ad platform.

Benefit of Instagram Ads for Marketers

These are a few of the benefits that marketers can begin enjoying thanks to this move.

Instagram Advertising (Obviously)

The first one almost goes without saying, but it is (quite obviously) the greatest benefit of all.

Now that the API is open to the public, marketers will finally have access to the hundreds or millions of Instagram users worldwide (in a very targeted way). Of course, it might take a little trial and error before finding an advertising sweet spot (as with most ad capability introductions, there is bound to be some resistance) but reaching specific users with a hypertargeted message is a major win for marketers.

Speaking of which…

Hypertargeting

The ability to pinpoint an audience by tastes, preferences and behaviors, and then craft messaging geared towards those criteria is an under-utilized benefit when it comes to social media and, more specifically, social advertising.

Now, on Instagram, marketers will have the ability to create messaging geared towards a specific group of followers of general users. No longer will there need to be sponsored content worked into a news feed in a clunky way (for example, comedy accounts sharing posts promoting iPhone covers) and marketers can focus messaging efforts on the users that actually want to hear them.

Detailed Analytics

Instagram analytics have been made available in some capacity before (with tools like Simply Measured, for example) but with a native analytics dashboard now available, marketers will be able to see exactly how their content is performing with their desired audience.

As any marketer knows, detailed analytics is something that any client, brand, or boss needs in order to justify a program’s expenses and progress. Now (presumably) there will be far more insights made available with Instagram that marketers are going to love.

Monetization

While the age of Instagram advertising is still quite young (nascent, really) it is fairly safe to assume that there will be aspects worked in that are designed to monetize the ad.

As with Facebook (e.g. register for an event, download an app, click to a website, sign up, etc.) there would really only be value to the investment in advertising (for some marketers) if there were some sort of mechanism built in that allows for a direct return on investment. While there are many ways of measuring ROI, capabilities like those outlined above surely aren’t too long for this new space.

Conclusion

There will certainly be a lot of excitement over the new ad platform (and capabilities) and a lot of these features and benefits will be rolled out over time. But the one thing that can be said for certain is that there is sure to be a great deal of benefits reaped for this new launch. It’s exciting to watch.

Do you plan on using Instagram ads? Tell us in the comments below!

Useful Social Media Advertising Tips for Beginners

When it comes to social media, there are few areas that can be more powerful than social media advertising, and these social media advertising tips will help you get the most out of a campaign.

It is no secret that the social media space is increasingly favoring the pay-to-play model for brands and businesses. That being the case, we are starting to see a move by many users towards social media advertising. Whether you are building your social presence, launching a new product, or driving conversions from untapped audiences, social media advertising can be a powerful tool. But it is important that you are using it properly.

Social media advertising tips to help you get the most out of it!

These social media advertising tips are really presented as thought points that should be considered when deciding to venture into the space. Though social ads are cost-effective, you still want to make certain that you are not wasting any money by simply throwing it at a network and hoping it works.

Know Thy Target Audience

Target audiences are extremely important on social media, and that is particularly true for social ads. With so much noise online, we need to ensure that we know exactly who we are talking to. When developing your social advertising campaigns, have a particular audience in mind for the message as opposed to a generic one – it will lead to significantly greater conversions.

Use Relevant Content

Once you know your audience, you’ll want to make sure that the content you plan on promoting is relevant to their tastes and preferences. One of the greatest benefits of involving one’s brand on social media is the amount of information that is available about your audience. Determine what type and tone of messaging will work and create that ad.

Don’t Boost Your Account

It might seem enticing, but one of the most futile ad types are the promoted account ads. While these ad formats might generate positive results in terms of audience growth, we have moved away from the days where a larger audience means a more valuable social presence. With a targeted message and a clearly defined audience type in mind, you will find that your ads not only garner engagement, but acquire new fans and followers as well.

Take Advantage of Additional Features

Simply boosting a post to your friends and fans can be somewhat useful, but to really get the value out of social advertising, take full advantage of its capabilities! In Facebook’s Power Editor or in the advertising backend of Twitter, you will find several additional capabilities, like Custom Audiences and Twitter Cards. Learn all you can about these features and then incorporate them into your campaigns.

And on that note…

Study the Social Advertising Landscapes

Social advertising is much more than “boosting” your content. If you have decided to begin taking advantage of the social advertising landscape, you should be taking the time to learn everything there is to know about the platforms. As noted above, there are a lot of valuable features that can be exploited in the backends of these programs. Figure out what they are!

Pay Attention to Your Ads

Throwing a budget behind some content will yield average results, but you want your results to be above average! Keep a close eye on the activity of your social ads and make adjustments where you see opportunities. Real-time ad optimization is a great practice, and one that will keep your operation profitable.

Avoid Optimized CPC

Bid for yourself. Optimized cost-per-click does not yield the best results. It is significantly more convenient, and the results are not bad. But again, you don’t want your campaigns to simply be average! Once you understand how these ad platforms work, start bidding for yourself in order to extrapolate all the potential that you can out of every penny you invest.

Keep some of these tips in mind when you decide to begin your journey into the world of social media advertising!

What other practices have you found valuable? Tell us in the comments below or on Twitter!

How to Stop Bleeding Money with Digital Ad Spends

Digital and social advertising are exciting platforms, but there is a lack of understanding that is leading to overspending and underperforming.

Advertising on social media and other digital platforms has always been exciting. Between the measurability, the reach and (in most cases) the affordability, marketers and advertisers have had a field day with these platforms. But as the market has grown and become more complex, a lot of advertisers have decided to forego the very necessary training that helps avoid losing digital ad spends to carelessness.

Optimizing your campaigns in order to ensure that your digital ad spends are not being wasted is an important area that is often overlooked. These are a few tips that can help marketers when it comes to ensuring that every dollar is going towards achieving your goals.

Incremental Bidding

Bidding best practices is often something that gets the best of marketers and advertisers. It’s great for Google and Facebook – not great for the value of your dollar. We often rely on selecting the much simpler “Optimize Bid for Clicks” option instead of setting the bid ourselves. The danger there is that if you’ve allotted yourself a handsome daily or lifetime budget, that means that a click will come at any cost.

Though incremental bidding takes some time and understanding of target audience, it is hugely beneficial when it comes to squeezing every last drop out of your digital ad spends. Starting with a sensationally low cost per click bid won’t result in much success. That’s a guarantee. But there is some opportunity that can be derived from this practice. See what can be squeezed out of your bare minimum, then start working your way up. In this way, at every level, you’ll be able to pull the results that exist for that bid.

Hypertarget Your Audience

If you’re not familiar with the concept of hypertargeting on social media, read up on it here. Essentially, when it comes to targeting your content and, more importantly, your ad dollars, there is a virtually limitless set of criteria that can be used as a filter when determining whom you would like to have see your content.

Hypertargeting your social ads leads to better social ad spends.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Of course there are the obvious choices, like age, gender and location. But really dig deeper and start targeting by interest, job title, even employer. If you know that your ad has been designed with a specific audience in mind, don’t run even the slightest risk of not getting that ad in front of those eyes. Take the time to build very specific audiences on any network where you plan on advertising.

Use Custom Audiences

Building off of this idea of hypertargeting your ads, why not get your ads in front of people that have already been in contact with you for some reason or another? That’s the idea when it comes to custom audiences on networks like Facebook. What are custom audiences? Essentially, a network like Facebook, for example, allows you to upload data – either in the form of data sheets, email lists, websites or apps – into Facebook, and it matches emails from your lists with users online. From there, you can select this as a target audience for your ads.

This is a group of people that is already familiar with your brand. If they see you pop up, they’re more than likely to take notice. This is also a great way to maintain your brand as top of mind. Maybe you reached out to some people who weren’t yet ready to make that purchase. Targeting your ads to a prospects list can work wonders when they find themselves at that stage in the funnel when they need to make a decision.

Go the CPC Route

There’s a reason why a network like LinkedIn doesn’t offer a CPM option for advertising, and it’s pretty simple (and good for the advertiser, believe it or not): CPM is worthless. At this point, considering the vast amounts of ever changing information available to us on the Internet, an impression is meaningless. Unless you are running a remarketing campaign on Google’s Display Network, eyes aren’t worth money.

Make sure you are optimizing your digital ad spends.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

What does that mean exactly? Well, you can get your content out into the socialsphere and all over the web for people to see, the goal is to get them to take action. If Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter all plan on showing your ads to thousands of people in order to charge you for a handful of clicks, why not let them? It is, by definition, the best of both worlds. Of course, the CPC model is slightly more expensive, but by following the other tips outlined here, it is well worth it.

Never Ignore Your Analytics (Not Even for a Second)

From the moment you launch a digital ad campaign your analytics are providing you with valuable insights that can help you optimize your digital ad spends. Look at the performance of each ad in your set, of each keyword and, of course, of each of the selected criteria for targeting. What’s working? What is leading to the lowest cost per click? Which image is generating the most engagement? What activities are people taking on your website once they have clicked through? All of these are important criteria.

Insights are delivered in real time for the first time in the history of marketing and advertising. Previously, we had to launch a campaign and simply hope that it resonated with the audience with which we had intended it to resonate. Now, not only can we launch a campaign targeted to a very specific audience, but we can also launch multiple campaigns at once and select the one that is performing best, removing the wasted cost from the others.

Conclusion

Slowly but surely, the notion that “social media is free” has begun to die off. People are now realizing that, as with anything related to the world of growth, an investment is needed in order to succeed. The value of digital and social media advertising can be huge, but in order to ensure that every dollar can be recouped in return, it is important that you engage in these best practices.

Which network do you think is most useful/valuable when it comes to social advertising? Tell us in the comments below or on Twitter!

Social Intelligence Says To Invest in a Social Advertising Campaign

Social media is not free; if you want to succeed, you need to be prepared to invest in a social advertising campaign.

social advertising campaignHave you made the mistake of thinking that social media is ‘free’? You’re not alone. Plenty of people – marketers and businesspeople alike – have made the dangerous mistake of assuming that because you can create an account or page on a social network for free – from a financial investment perspective – that succeeding with the platform is going to be free as well. If you want to find success with social media, you need to be prepared to invest in a social advertising campaign.

Recently, Adobe released their Q3 Social Intelligence Report. In it, they outlined a lot of very interesting details. For example, people are beginning to engage more. Although brands only increased their post number by 9% year-over-year, engagement has jumped up 115% in the same time period.

Though despite all of these interesting stats, there was one point that stood out above the rest: paid social is on the rise. There were a few ways in which the report made this clear.

We have found ourselves at a wonderful point in time (as marketers and advertisers) where the world’s largest network is trying to justify it’s price tag. So, economically speaking, how do you increase demand? Why, you decrease price, of course!

A few of the key findings below show why now is the time to invest in a social advertising campaign and reap major benefits.

CPC and CTRs

The cost-per-click (CPC) for ads on Facebook has gone down considerably in the last year – down by 40%, to be exact. Meanwhile, click-through rates on Facebook ads (CTR) have gone up by a whopping 275%! By creating an optimized ad and sharing to the right people in the right places, you could reap some major benefits from the advertising platform.

CPM and ROI

The cost per thousand impressions (CPM) for Facebook ads has increased. And understandably so – there are over a million sets of a thousand users you can reach out to. That said, targeting capabilities have become increasingly specific in the last year and as a result, measured return on investment (ROI) has seen a jump of 58% in the last year. So, while it might be more expensive to reach large numbers of people, if you pick your audience properly, you can see significant returns.

Click Volume and Impressions Growth

Great news advertisers! As ads become more prevalent on the network, so do impressions (naturally) and clicks (interesting!). That’s right, people are clicking on sponsored ads as they become more frequent. So you might hear people say they don’t want to see any advertising on their favorite social network, but if it is done correctly, you can expect that they will not only accept it, but click on it.

Now is the time to capitalize on the returns that can be generated from Facebook’s huge network of users. Your brand should not let this opportunity fall by the wayside. You can and should strongly consider investing in a social advertising campaign today. Find out how t2 can help here.

There are a lot more great facts and figures that marketers might find interesting in this study. Which one do you think is most important or interesting? Tell us in the comments below or on Twitter!

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