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Debate: Do low-impact formats handicap hyper-targeting?

Social & Digital

Debate: Do low-impact formats handicap hyper-targeting?


Topic sentence: Hyper-targeted advertising in social media is handicapped by low media format impact.


Ian Laurie
Director of research and education
Ikon Communications 

Ian LaurieNegative – In social media, where ad formats are perceived to be low impact, ads are competing not only against eachother but also against friends, celebrities and news channels. But what we’ve lost in rich, impactful formats, we’ve gained in opportunities to be relevant and timely. By reflecting and complimenting a user’s digital behaviour, be that a search query or a status update, we might limit reach, but the increased interaction and response rate result in a more cost-effective media buy. In fact, those reactive enough to take advantage of new social media advertising tactics can enjoy an ad recall percentage that is 98% above the online average, according to Nielsen. Even an ad format with little perceived creative impact, such as ‘the promoted trend’ on Twitter, can deliver astonishing results. By planning in such areas with creative relevance and timeliness, we have seen engagement rates of up to 13%. The downside is the more manual, dynamic implementation required to segment, target and optimise to this level. But we’re increasingly seeing technology catch up and provide efficiencies in this area.

This opportunity isn’t constrained to desktop either, as we’re starting to shift into the promised land of mobile. For those only concerned with impact and share of voice in mobile: Facebook Page Post ads in the newsfeed (which is where most people spend their time) take over the entire feed on mobile.

And for those marketers only concerned with mass reach, we can expect prerolls to increase in the social/ mobile space in the near future.

Reaching the right people with the right message is the key to unlocking social media as a brand tool as well as a direct response channel. Context has become more important while the richness of the media has become less.


Nic HodgesNic Hodges
Head of innovation and technology
Mediacom Australia

Affirmative – Regardless of how targeted or how social display advertising is, it needs to be acknowledged that this is a low-impact, low-performing format.

Putting ‘hyper-targeted’ and ‘social’ in front of something doesn’t necessarily mean a lot beyond hype and perhaps a slightly higher cost per impression. Yet there seems to be an assumption in the market that social media advertising allows a level of targeting previously unfathomable by ‘traditional digital’. This is not true.

Meaningful, accurate audience models can be built outside of social platforms – it’s simply a matter of how well you can manage and model data.

The assumption that hyper-targeted social is the next big thing stems from the fact it’s a lot simpler to explain how you can create highly-targeted audiences with social data than it is to explain how to do it with less-obvious data. The former just requires an understanding that every detail of your life is available to Facebook. The latter actually requires hard maths, good technology, and clever people.

The truth is, the fact I visited a brand’s website is far more meaningful than the fact I like a brand on Facebook. And putting a banner ad in front of me, or a promoted post on Facebook, is not the best use of that data.

So what is all this data useful for? How about actually making stuff that people want to interact with? Or generating unique and previously unknown insights about your brand and your audience? Or using data and conversations to develop new products?

We need to move away from actually thinking display advertising is an effective format that we should continue to expect growth from. Whether it’s hyper-targeted and social or not, display advertising is a low-impact format that we need to evolve into something much, much better.


Matt Purdie-SmithMatt Purdie-Smith
Digital manager

Negative – I’m going to disagree with this one. Consumers define social media as an open environment for organic discussion and advertisers should respect that. At its heart, social media is meant to be about what the user might want and like, not what others deem appropriate for them to see. For brands to build a place in social media they must provide real value in order to be noticed and accepted. To create a long-term distribution channel for their content and communications, marketers need to appreciate and understand the environment. Brands should be using any hyper-targeting available to find those people most predisposed to their offering, and ensure the language they use matches the community they are trying to engage.

Consider the way Nike, Coca-Cola and Starbucks are dominating social media. They aren’t doing flash-in-thepan campaign launches. They have built followings by consistently providing content people want. Ergo, the requirement for high-impact ads is out the window.

By limiting the disruption caused by advertising in social channels, low-impact media formats can also act as protection against marketers’ own inclination to run the biggest, brightest ad spot possible and call it branding success. If a brand needs to deliver high-impact, massreaching formats, then there are other media to do this more effectively. There are plenty of alternative premium ad formats available to marketers in other channels.

If you see social media purely as an interruptive media tool, you may well be frustrated at the lack of high-impact formats, but the truth is that without having something valuable and rewarding to offer it won’t be the formats that hold you back.


Ben MulcahyBen Mulcahy
Pink Media Group

Negative – If targeted advertising is the new black, hypertargeting is the new gold. Brands who do not target specific audiences with tailored communications are lazy and do not deserve customer engagement.

Social media is where it’s at and the fact that hyper-targeting is possible in this space is brilliant. We regularly target and communicate with our LGBT target audience through Facebook. From an advertiser’s perspective the formats are great.

We can tell our audience that their friends like brands so they should too.

We can collect fans then market to them consistently through corporate pages.

It is low cost, perfectly targeted and effective.

Once we have found our audience the challenge is to keep them engaged and communicate in a relevant manner. My main concern for this media format is ‘advertising fatigue’.

We are happy to pay to promote our posts to ensure maximum audience size, but from a user perspective as people like me pay for more and more posts to be high profile, the ‘social network’ risks becoming clogged with news from companies and advertising.

I follow over 700 companies through Facebook and enjoy seeing the news and products they promote and the tone they use.

Facebook has worked out that I am gay without ever ticking the box, and as a user I like that companies can market relevant products to me based on my lifestyle. Companies that take the time and effort to market to me in a targeted manner encourage me to take the time to consider their product or service.



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