The final Adobe-sponsored panel at Adver­tis­ing Week 2012 was one near and dear to my heart. Social matures: how it’s impact­ing your adver­tis­ing and bot­tom line. The crux of the dis­cus­sion, led by Mashable’s Christina War­ren, was how the social media world, built on an ethos of com­mu­nity build­ing and true cus­tomer engage­ment, is now inter­sect­ing with adver­tis­ing, the gen­er­ally accepted best way for a com­pany to broad­cast mes­sages to consumers.

Are these at odds with each other? How do com­pa­nies “adver­tise” effec­tively to the cus­tomer advo­cates they’ve worked so hard to get on their side? These same fans who expect trans­parency, infor­mal­ity, gen­uine­ness — not the usual three adjec­tives used to describe ads.

One big change we’re start­ing to see is the social world more focused on “the bot­tom line” and recur­ring rev­enue. Face­book them­selves just launched their very first ad. Twit­ter is con­stantly updat­ing APIs and ser­vices to pro­vide more paid media oppor­tu­ni­ties to social marketers.

Christo­pher Adorna, VP of cre­ative & ana­lyt­ics at Socialarc said that social shouldn’t be dif­fer­ent from any other mar­ket­ing strat­egy: mar­keters should cre­ate KPI’s and rely on ana­lyt­ics to mea­sure results. He says the next step is for more mature ana­lyt­ics, which was reit­er­ated by Jeff Feld­man, direc­tor of strat­egy, Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing at Adobe, who said it’s time that a com­mon set of ana­lyt­ics is set up for social media. Sim­i­lar to how TV has the Neilsen rat­ings. Indeed, Face­book, Twit­ter, and LinkedIn real­ize they need to show bet­ter met­rics and they are begin­ning to make rela­tion­ships with the Neilsen’s & Dat­a­log­ics’ of the world.

Beyond the ques­tion of how to mea­sure, the con­ver­sa­tion then went into what to mea­sure. As in, where does cre­ative play in the equa­tion? Michael Cupo, direc­tor of social media at ESPN, said that from their per­spec­tive, it all starts from con­sis­tency. The plat­form may be dif­fer­ent (search, .com, social, TV) but the mes­sages are the same – just com­mu­ni­cated in the best way for each audience.

Adorna had a good take on the sub­ject. Prior to social, he said, cre­ative and brand teams ago­nized over words and assets to make sure the look was just right. With social, it’s all about the story. “Spon­sored sto­ries work bet­ter than Face­book ad buys. We know that now,” said Adorna. The per­fectly crafted mes­sage may lead to no engage­ment at all. (Heck, it could even lead to back­lash!) The art direc­tor now needs to be a com­mu­nity manager.

Of course no panel dis­cus­sion on social and ads can end with­out men­tion of mobile. “Face­book needs to ramp up more options for social adver­tis­ers,” said Adorna. They need more ways to make engag­ing mobile-first expe­ri­ences that your fans and fol­low­ers will take part in. Feld­man said that even when the ads are there, the attri­bu­tion model is too unclear. If I see an ad for jeans, for exam­ple, on my device, but don’t click it, but then go into Tar­get and buy those jeans, which mar­ket­ing func­tion takes the credit?

Maybe there are more ques­tions than answers when it comes to the inter­sec­tion of social and adver­tis­ing, but it sounds like orga­ni­za­tions are ask­ing the right ques­tions. What do you think is the next step to find­ing the right solu­tions? Let us know in the com­ments below.

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