Earlier this week, Twitter aired its first ever series of TV ads to promote its service via an association with NASCAR. The ads drove traffic to a dedicated NASCAR branded Twitter page of aggregated tweets all using #NASCAR.
The move set tongues wagging as to whether Twitter was now beginning to roll-out brand pages in the same way that Facebook and Google+ has and whether or not Twitter was evolving further, its advertising and revenue streams. Whilst the tv ads weren’t a first for a social network (I’m sure everybody remembers the cuddly Google ads run earlier in 2012), it’s an interesting diversification and sophistication you might argue, of the way that social media platforms are vying for deeper penetration into our daily lives (and media channels).
It’s undoubtedly ironic that social platforms are now advertising their networks on conventional channels – perhaps doubly-so now that they are increasing the sophistication and social nature of some of their ads!
An increasingly sophisticated approach to ad units
So, whilst the networks promote themselves “backwards”, they are also breaking new, albeit untested ground with new ad formats and methods of promoting content. Facebook especially, is looking at many ways to either improve “old” formats or introduce new, more financially rewarding ones.
So, after all the panic that ensued following the announcement of Edgerank last year, Facebook now conveniently allows you to basically buy the guaranteed visibility of your fans…for a fee! Very handy when you have a big campaign to launch or an important announcement. This will no doubt ending up as another bidding war on news stream space as more and more pages compete for the same eyeballs – so it will be interesting to see how this evolves.
Browser History Bidding – Facebook Exchange
Yes, it sounds as weird as you think, but this will really open up a massive privacy debate. As you may know, cookies on your machine allow Facebook to remember your likes and interactions IN Facebook – and present you with ads that are relevant to you. But, the new Facebook Exchange system will also include recommendations based on your EXTERNAL, non-Facebook browsing habits! Phorm anyone? Expect a massive problem around this one – especially in Europe!
Shareable Ad Units
Facebook is now also looking at playing with ad units from OUTSIDE Facebook that can be shared to your network. As you can see from the image on the left, the ad (shown on buzzfeed.com) can be shared to Facebook via the pop-up on the right.
The open graph which allows you to comment in a Facebook-style on an external website is certainly evolving. Quite why anyone would want to share an ad, or how you would reward the sharing of an ad is a mystery to me at the moment, but it is clearly moving ads way, way beyond what we consider them to be at the moment.
With Twitter’s promoted trends, tweets and accounts, social is seriously into advertising and getting smarter with it too, begging the question – is it easier and more effective to monetise and extend reach via ads from the very start (as Facebook has done) or add advertising “as you go” in a much more contextually-relevant way (as Twitter is doing).
But will mobile shake ALL of this up?