Turning unwanted ads to clicks

Industry experts discuss how data is driving new advertising metrics, and the ways in which social media ads can avoid being seen as spam.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor

Driven by data and analytics, advertisers are warming to the idea of advertisements on social media platforms, said a Microsoft top executive.

In an interview with ZDNet Asia, Scott Howe, Microsoft's corporate vice president of advertiser and publisher solutions, said advertisers are shifting ad spend to social media platforms such as Facebook, because they realize these form integral pieces of a "complete advertising story".

While the traditional measurement of advertising ROI (return on investment) is placed on the last link the buyer clicks before the purchase, the industry has realized that all credit cannot be attributed solely to the final click, he said.

"Social media gets less credit than it should," he noted, citing the example of Facebook ads which help create awareness of a product, but never get the credit for a purchase because these are "never the last click".

This realization has, in part, been driven by more sophisticated analysis, which helps to map user engagement online more deeply.

He said advertisers and agencies alike have been placing more investment in data and testing, which is different from the traditional advertising practice of evaluating a campaign after it has been run.

"Now, smart agencies are looking at the results and optimizing [ads] everyday," he said.

Fitting Twitter into the story
Part of the drive to ramp up user engagement is the focus on creating a more complete "story" online with peripheral sources of information, to which a platform such as Twitter belongs, said Howe.

Asian advertising network, Nuffnang, recently set up a Twitter ad network called ChurpChurp.

ChurpChurp co-founder Cheo Ming Shen, said in an e-mail to ZDNet Asia, it is early days for monetization on the platform, but users with larger audiences stand to earn more.

But the text-based Twitter platform offers fewer ways for ads to be differentiated from content, which may result in Twitterers alienating their followers, or--worse--getting reported to Twitter's spam watchers, which could result in accounts getting suspended.

Cheo said ChurpChurp is concerned about this, and wants to give users control over their ad streams so that they can avoid spamming their followers.

These come in the form of limiting the number of sponsored tweets, as well as demarcating these with a prefix such as "Ad:" attached to each one that goes out.

Another Twitter network, Magpie, has been operational for a year.

Its vice president of sales and marketing, Phoebe Jamieson, said in an e-mail interview, twitterers should focus on making their sponsored tweets relevant to their followers.

In order to keep the Magpie network appealing to sponsors, it only engages reputable twitterers", as well as monitors ad duplication, which could turn followers off.

She said Magpie's network of Twitters have a collective reach of 15 million followers, and advertisers purchase tweets based on the cost per thousand followers.

On whether a Twitter ad can be appealing in the midst of richer ad formats online, Microsoft's Howe said there is still an art to good text: "In any space, there is still a difference between good and bad copy."

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