If 2017 was a big year for social advertising, 2018 should be a defining one. But before marketers can take the keys to the kingdom, they’ll need to make sure they’re maintaining issues around transparency, accessibility and data ownership writes, Jason Beckerman, CEO and Co-founder, Unified
Unless you’ve been hiding from the digital world entirely, it’s hard not to see the massive evolution that social media has experienced in the past four years. For one, you may have noticed that organic exposure for brands is on a respirator, if not dead. In fact, not only has organic reach been steadily declining year-over-year, but just recently Facebook tested removing brand posts from main feeds altogether.
This, among many other reasons such as superior tracking and targeting, are contributing factors as to why social advertising has experienced a massive 184% spike in campaigns and is expected to increase ad spend 30.0% year-over-year . To pour a little more gasoline on the fire, social networks have been keeping up with this new demand in stride, by continuously releasing new ad types, targeting, and measurement capabilities throughout the year.
While this is a lucrative opportunity for brands, the bigger this volume gets, the more marketers feel helpless to gain the transparency and ultimately the performance they need to drive appropriate ROAS and impact the bottom line. After all, social was named the hardest channel to execute effectively by marketers. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and the marketers who know what challenges and trends to look for will be well ahead of the curve in 2018.
Move Over Content, Data Is King
It’s time for marketers to ask themselves a critical, yet simple question—do I own my social advertising data? The consequences of answering “no” or even “I’m not sure” to this inquiry are tremendous, and arguably of greater importance than their content itself. After all, what good is creative if you can’t track it and adjust strategies based on performance data?
Data ownership is the missing piece that significantly impacts a brand’s ability to foster true transparency and, ultimately, drive performance . The “business as usual” mentality of most organizations, where agencies exclusively hold the keys to ad accounts that contain financial and performance data, means that marketers are beholden to the competence (or incompetence) of their partners. In fact, marketers have started to wake up to the importance of data ownership, with 38.0% adding clauses to agency contracts to secure data ownership and which technologies can be used on their behalf. In order to be successful next year, brands need to flip the script on the old mentality and take those keys back.
Two’s Company, 6.1’s A Crowd
As brands continue to expand their social presence, the scale and complexity of their campaigns have increased, and the amount of data generated has exploded. As a result, more agencies and teams are needed to execute them successfully. Last year alone, research showed that there’s an average of 6.1 companies that work on a single campaign for large companies—a stunning 221.0% year-over-year increase.
These numbers are at the core of why data ownership is more important than ever, and are only expected to rise for the foreseeable future. The most successful brands will ensure that all teams, both externally and internally, will be given access to the same data. This helps streamline reporting methodologies, potentially reduce human capital fees, and ensure best practices are shared uniformly across their brand portfolio.
Saying Goodbye to Murkiness, And Hello To Transparency And Portability
Nearly 2 out of 20—or roughly 8%—of marketers feel confident that they have the transparency and intelligence they need to be successful. This troubling stat isn’t too surprising, however, when the number of brands that cannot guarantee that they’re always in control of their data remains high.
Transparency is not only important for performance but is essential to better understanding the social advertising supply chain . More specifically, which teams, tools, and tactics are the most effective, and what investments are being made on a brand’s behalf. In short—no transparency means no accountability, and with no accountability, there could be a lot of waste in the supply chain.
To achieve this, brands must ensure three things. That they own their data, that all teams and agencies connect ad accounts into a single platform, and they have the intelligence needed to make sense of unorganized, raw data.
Start Strong So You Can Finish Stronger
If this year was any indication, 2018 is almost guaranteed to bring many new innovations from social networks and tech vendors alike. As marketers continue to increase investments and campaign volume, it’s more critical than ever that they roll back the curtain and identify the potential skeletons in their closets as it pertains to data ownership and transparency. Those that do, in addition to implementing an overarching connected intelligence strategy, will soon find their competition in the rearview mirror—all while minimizing media waste and supply chain fees.
All in all, if 2017 was a big year for social advertising, and it was, 2018 should be a defining one.
This article first appeared on MarTech Advisor