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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