Mark the first quarter of 2018 in your digital history timeline. There was a small, but incredibly telling, dip in active Facebook users (https://www.recode.net/2018/1/31/16957122/facebook-daily-active-user-decline-us-canda-q4-earnings-2018). Facebook’s worldwide usership still makes it the granddaddy of social media – with almost a full third of humanity logging on – and it’s a huge force for digital marketing. But this first-ever dip for US and Canadian ‘bookers is a marketing bellwether we should all be heeding.
According to Zuckerberg and his team, the recent tweaks to the Facebook experience is responsible for the dip (http://money.cnn.com/2018/01/31/technology/facebook-earnings/index.html), but we know that there is a growing preference, especially for younger users for plugging in to other outlets like Snapchat and Instagram. If you are creating your own Facebook ads, you may even notice your bill is sometimes split automatically to generate (and charge you for) the same ad on Instagram. That makes sense if you remember that Facebook acquired Instagram in a shrewd – and expensive – deal back in 2012 and that the social media giant understands how to target the audience you have identified for your ad. An effective digital marketing campaign is a diverse one. Facebook is still a must, but adding other platforms makes it possible to target more and do it better.
One of the reasons for the Q1 Facebook dip is the company’s self-admitted choice to limit viral videos in the newsfeed. People spent 50 million fewer hours on Facebook in the first quarter of 2018 than in the last quarter of 2017 (http://money.cnn.com/2018/01/31/technology/facebook-earnings/index.html). That’s an interesting move, since videos, entertainment, and filters that make your baby look like an old lady are driving user behavior more than ever before. Users are following content that is entertaining and highly targeted toward them.
That means digital ads need to be part of the online entertainment experience, not a distraction from it. If you have a product that plays well with a sci-fi fan, then you should be creating an ad that will target people who are watching the latest Star Wars trailer without disrupting their experience.
Down with Disruptions
A poll recently conducted (https://www.nngroup.com/articles/most-hated-advertising-techniques/) by the Neilson Norman group measured what users think are the most annoying formats of ads, regardless of content. At the top of the list was any ad that “took over” a viewer’s computer or mobile device, blocking or moving content until the ad had been viewed.
Sidebar ads and “related links” ads the bottom of content were seen more favorably. But disruptive ads are in real jeopardy (https://www.marketingweek.com/2017/05/16/mark-ritson-ai-digital-disruption/) from technology such as ad blockers, streamlined browsing, and the increasing popularity of paid platforms that exchange fees for an ad-free experience.
That means advertisers will have to make their content compelling enough for users to choose it, like the Old Spice YouTube channel. They have made their commercials so entertaining that nearly 700 thousand people have subscribed and will see the commercials whether they are using the free version of the platform or paying for access to YouTube Red, the ad-free, fee-based version.
Digital advertising is always shifting, but it remains a powerhouse for marketing products and services. Tapping into the growing, worldwide pool of potential clients and customers means using multiple platforms and creating highly targeted, entertaining content that users will choose to make part of their online experience.