Motivity Marketing CEO Kevin Ryan sounds a note of caution,
however. He sees advertisers, "Dialing up the targeting with a
gazillion different options: audience, attitudinal, behavioral --
but they use same creative because all that targeting increases
their cost. It's a young platform without a lot of stability. It's
really hard to invest heavily in it because it's in a constant
state of change."
Datran Media Senior VP Chris Gaebler cites other limitations of
Facebook's platform, such as the inability to apply cookies to
identify specific users or groups. "We've made many campaigns
better over time by using smarter targeting. But you have to drive
them off of Facebook to apply cookies."
TARGETING SOCIAL INTERACTIONS
Companies such as 33Across, Media6Degrees and RadiumOne target ads
based on social interactions. Anonymous sharing of content, posting
to a blog, emailing from a publisher site or commenting are some of
the interactions that make the platforms assume people are
connected, if not socially than at least in terms of affinities or
interests. RadiumOne offers consumers the ability to "like" or
"share" its ads with friends.
The new social data is fertile ground sourced outside the trough
of generally available behavioral data that all networks,
exchanges, agencies and DSPs have access to.
"Behavioral data has become commoditized, hence the rise of
DSPs," RadiumOne CEO Gurbaksh Chahal said. "Everyone has access to
the same data. Our model looks at everything that happens outside
of Facebook that allows you to have that social experience. When
you share I don't know what kind of connection you have, but I do
know there's an influencer and someone being influenced."
But here's something to consider: Just because consumers are
talking about a brand, or sharing stuff or even "liking" it, it's
not necessarily an indicator of positive sentiment. Put more
bluntly: They might be hating on you.
"Working with networked targeted audiences requires one,
possibly two extra steps," said Pauline Ores, who until recently
headed social-engagement strategy at IBM. The first determines that
a discussion is taking place. The second should determine if
customers "are actively disparaging an aspect of your offering or
THE SOCIAL-ANALYTICS BUBBLE
But how easy is it really to monitor and analyze social
conversations? Social-listening-software solutions are
proliferating. Radian6, SocialCast, Lithium Social Media
Monitoring, Sysomos, Meltwater Buzz, Jive, Attensity, Brandtology,
Omniture and Visible Technologies account for just part of an
increasingly crowded landscape.
There's no doubt monitoring social conversations can help
enormously when it comes to targeting audiences. San Francisco
digital shop Questus was able to identify an untapped market of
urban Latino and African Americans who liked to customize sport
bikes, which led to Suzuki's Busa Beats campaign.
Yet its clear these are early days; having test-driven some of
these solutions, it's obvious plenty of kinks are still to be
ironed out. One product I played with differentiated between
"editorial" and "blog" product discussions. But where do you draw
that line? I mean, if your brand is mentioned in a CNN article that
happens to be posted on the network's blog platform, there's a
difference, right? Yet this solution lumped those mentions into the
"blog" category. I've also seen social-link reports that are unable
to screen out glaringly obvious (as in based in Cambodia)
Even when such kinks are ironed out, there are tougher nuts to
crack when it comes to listening.
"Precise? No. Useful? Yes. It's really complex stuff. They're
functionally valid for business today, but they're not going to get
exact," said web-metrics guru Jim Sterne. "Sentiment analysis is a
nut we've been trying to crack from the beginning of computing. On
the whole, sentiment polarity is deemed good, bad, or neutral with
just enough accuracy to be useful. 'I hate AT&T!' is pretty
clear, and can be monitored and trended over time to determine if
the T-Mobile acquisition is really for the better or not."
DON'T TARGET ME, BRO
Social-media-audience targeting is clearly here to stay, and
methods will only become more sophisticated with time. In the
current climate of privacy protection and do-not-track, there will
be continued pressure from advertisers, agencies and vendors for
more access to data and more-granular forms of targeting.
Forgetting for a moment about whether these indeed violate user
privacy, paramount is that users don't perceive that their privacy
is being invaded, or that advertisers have cross-hairs squarely on
their social-media profiles.
Consumers are spending more of their lives on social networks.
The challenge to advertisers is to target them with ads that don't
feel too targeted, but that might be better than the alternative:
low-rent, generically creepy acai berry/skin-care