With competition for customer attention building up at frenetic pace, it is a challenge for CEOs to find a way to grab attention and monetise the brand. Web2.0 is the fastest growing medium for advertisers because it is both efficient and measureable. That is to say, it may not necessarily be as effective, but we can measure just how effective it is, which is not the case typically with traditional media.
“In addition, connected consumers spend more time each day in front of “glass” making it necessary for advertisers to find us where they can,” explains Tracy Tuten, Professor of Marketing at East Carolina University and an expert in social media marketing.
“To measure, we must define what it is we wish to assess in a specific manner,” she told Polymers & Tyre Asia in an interview. Just as traditional advertising tends to focus on impressions and CPMs, we can also do this with social media and digital advertising,” she said. CPM or Cost per mill is a commonly used measurement in advertising.
On Web2.0, unlike traditional advertising, brand managers can measure customer disposition towards the product. “We can also measure sentiment which is not as easily done as in the case of traditional advertising. Where we run into problems is with the typical situation of not being able to control all possible explanations of what we are seeing in order to attribute causality,” the author of best selling Advertisers at Work and Social Media Marketing, a textbook for a social media course co-authored with Michael R. Solomon.
She hastened to add that this is not a situation that is unique to social media, though. Advertisers have always dealt with this condition. “What we must remember is that much of social media marketing is focussed on branding more so than on direct demand generation. There’s nothing wrong with that. This is one of the areas best suited for social media.”
Social media allows people to create, share, and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities on Web 2.0 platforms using mobile and web-based technologies. These real-time highly interactive platforms create user-generated content and multidimensional dialogue unlike the insipid monologue of traditional advertising practices. Market research firms, such as Nielsen, say Internet users spend a lot of time on social media sites than any other type of site.
Brand managers are also exploring ways to influence customers’ purchase decisions by pursuing other avenues such as “friendvertising”, which essentially means that brands can benefit by leveraging their fans to promote their brand offerings.
“It’s been done throughout time as word-of-mouth marketing except now these brand fans have access to potentially millions of people, rather than five or ten.”
A final point is trust – excluding incentivised friendvertising – people trust people more than the trust brands, even if they’ve never met the person making the recommendation.
The other benefit of social and digital media is that brands can easily provide these brand fans with brand assets that can be used as the fans create brand-related user-generated content to share in social media channels.
A practice that worries Dr Tuten is the increasing prevalence of incentivised friendvertising – essentially brands paying for user reviews, referrals, recommendations, and comments.
“This behaviour undermines the credibility of all forms of friendvertising. I suspect if the trend continues, consumers will increasingly hesitate to trust friendvertising,” said the marketing professor, who has consulted and taught in Asia, Africa, South America, and Europe.
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