Placements, devices and social media advertising

One confusing thing when talking to someone about online advertising for the first time is the question: where are my ads going to be displayed? It’s hard to explain because probably you can mention platforms (Facebook? Google Search? Twitter? – Mobile? Desktop?) but the complexity is more related to at what exact moment and in which placements your ad will have the chance of being shown, generating impressions, clicks, views or whatever KPI we are working on. By the way, what is a KPI?

Let’s just start by saying the definition of KPI: Key Performance Indicator. This is important for two reasons. First of all, because it will define what you consider success (or not). What is success for your business? Getting likes? I don’t think so. But if it was, the number of likes would be your KPI. Think that probably is more relevant the number of leads or new clients, for example. Or it can also be number of new App Installs you drove.

Let’s mention some KPIs:

  • Clicks
  • Impressions
  • Conversions
  • Leads
  • Video Views
  • App Installs
  • etc.
This was important to mention because according to the KPI you decide to work with, you will better understand what a placement is. For example, Snapchat is not the best place to generate clicks. Probably is better for generating video views. Or it wouldn’t be accurate to use Pinterest to generate Leads. Probably it’s better to actually sell products. And Instagram for sure is an excellent platform to promote your new app. At the end of the day, people using Instagram are already using their mobile phone and they are just one click away from a new app install.

Just like when we talked about the anatomy of a Facebook Ads campaign, you should have very clear not only your business goals, but also your KPIs so you can decide what would be an ideal placement.

Old placements vs. modern placements: from the pop-ups to the Facebook News Feed

annoying popups

Probably you can remember in times before Google, and Facebook that everything we knew about online advertising was annoying pop-ups like the ones above that would force us to stop what we were doing. We used to hate those ads because they were annoying.

And what happened later, specially with Google and Facebook, is that these companies understood that ads shouldn’t be annoying. They should be displayed just like any other piece of content at the exact moment people would need a certain product. And this started to be possible when people typed a query in Google Search and the search results would respond with 10 organic results and a couple of ads in the top and in the right side of the screen. These ads knew you were interested in acquiring some kind of product. If not, why was you using a search engine at that moment?

With Google Search, Google started tracking what was people interested in. Believe it or not, the websites you visit and the words present in your Gmail account have created a profile of how is your online behavior and this makes easier for advertisers to know if you are interested in their produt or not. They can know this because certain websites have lines of code tracking you, such like the ones provided by Google Analytics, Google Search Console or Google Adsense, among other ways Google can track you. Years later, in 2005, Google acquired Android Inc. and ended up knowing even more about us than what they used to, by having access to our behavior from mobile devices. Years later Google would release their Nexus and Pixel mobile phone products. For 2016 Android’s market share represented more than 80% of mobile phone users worldwide.

google mobile

Image by 月明 端木: in 2010 Google had already released it’s own mobile OS Android and it’s own mobile device Google Nexus.

Facebook has a similar story. If you think about it, Facebook knows who your friends and family members are, what your interests are (pages, groups, likes, etc.) what OS you have installed in your mobile and desktop device, what browser and even what websites you visit (Facebook Pixel & Instant Articles). Facebook knows even who do you talk with most of the time, and the way we use Facebook, Instagram and Messenger is data for Facebook to know what would be the exact place of each app to better display ads.

This was the point I wanted to explain: the exact place where each app display ads would be what at the beginning of this post I called as placement. The thing is that Google and Facebook own most of the placements advertisers are willing to pay: for instance, Facebook owns the Mobile, Desktop and Instagram News Feed. On the other hand, Google owns the Google Display Network, Google Adwords and YouTube, and among the top ten most downloaded apps in iOS, 5 belong go Google (Google Maps and YouTube) and Facebook (Messenger, Instagram and Facebook).

Google and Facebook don’t own the whole ecosystem

The interesting thing is that these two companies don’t own 100% of the apps you have installed in your mobile device. Even if Google owns Android and Facebook is the first app you open every morning, users are spending time also in other services such like Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat, among others. Nevertheless, there’s a little chance that someone will uninstall Facebook from his/her phone. Or for someone to start using DuckDuckGo or Bing instead of Google. But those who will do it are your potential customers as well.

Placements available at these other services are important for two reasons: at first, the more Google and Facebook keep growing, the most expensive their ad delivery will become, and this is a $1 million dollar opportunity to start looking for new audiences to deliver your ads for a less expensive cost. The second reason is that users in Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat are more engaged with these apps than the average Facebook/Google user. Think about this: you could be in Facebook like any other person in the world, but instead you are looking for new furniture pins on Pinterest. Or you could be looking for decoration objects for your office in Google Search, but instead you are using Pinterest. And this is the reason why Pinterest for Business exists. (By the way, I have a Pinterest account where I share the content I find useful and worth reading)

It happens something similar with Twitter and Snapchat. Even with smaller audiences when compared with Google and Facebook, people engaged with vertical content in Snapchat and 140-characters long tweets are there because they are finding valuable content they are not finding in other social media platforms. Thus, the landscape of online advertising placements is almost infinite, with social media companies exploring all the time where to display a new ads for their users.

But another interesting thing is that even outside social media there’s an ad waiting for us. I guess you’ve listened to audio ads in streaming music services likes Spotify and Pandora. That’s the way these companies pay the bills when users use their free service, and it’s the way media organizations (TV, newspapers, radio and magazines) used to work for a long time as well. Even when some of them have subscription monthly plans, most of the revenue generated in offline media channels is due to advertising. Number of readers and subscribers are the KPI used by offline media to sell ads in very simple formats: one page, half page, back cover, etc. And if you go for a walk, you will find something like this I found in a bus station I passed by in south zone of Sao Paulo:

What happened with advertising, social media and tech companies evolving really fast during the last 15 years is that offline advertising, specially newspapers and magazines, are not being able to demonstrate to advertisers their real value, generating a migration from offline to online, and advertisers looking for innovation in formats and placements to display their ads. In this scenario, even with Snapchat suffering an aggressive leak of users due to Facebook attempts to integrate some of the functions and formats claimed once by Snapchat, smaller services and social media channels displaying ads are still relevant. They have millions of users and tons of data advertisers should pay attention. Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest and DuckDuckGo, among other services, are used by hundreds of millions of people around the world and this is a fact we can’t ignore anymore just because Facebook and Google are giants. Will we continue ignoring the opportunity to reach this huge mass of users?

At the end of the day, think that users using any service should have a Facebook account or uses any Google product. Why not trying to reach that user through diverse placements in his/her mobile and desktop devices?

Image: Pitch87