Lunch with the CMO? Changes in social media spend

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Next year social is poised to create even more disruption than it did this year. So with only a few months to go before we head into 2018, how is the current social landscape faring and what do agencies and the industry need to prepare for? Aaron Goldman, CMO of 4C Insights, a global media technology, provides his view on the recent earnings, GDPR and what the agency of the future should look like. 

1. How do you think Facebook and Snap fared in their recent earnings

Despite concerns over issues ranging from Russian ad interference to throttled ad loads, Facebook put up another huge quarter. Clearly, advertising on Facebook is working and marketers are only gaining confidence in the platform. We saw a 27% increase in ad spend on Facebook through our platform in Q3 over Q2 and 55% increase on Instagram.   

And while Snap reported a loss this quarter, we believe they have only scratched the surface in providing new and innovative ways for brands and advertisers to engage with their audiences. In fact, we saw a 73% increase in advertising spend on Snapchat in Q3, which indicates the popularity of the platform has found its way into today’s marketing and advertising campaigns. What is interesting is that much of this spend is being concentrated on video, which also shows how users prefer to use and engage with content within the platform.   

With the peak festive shopping season about to hit, it will be interesting to show how these numbers shape up in the next quarter. Looking further out into the future there’s still a ton of potential for Facebook beyond Instagram with WhatsApp and Messenger.   

2. Overall, where do you think social is headed as we look to 2018? Where do you see growth for each platform?   

Ad budgets are going to continue to pour into social. In fact, ad spend through 4C has doubled year-over-year and we’ll hit $1 billion total in 2017.  The one truism about advertising is that money follows performance – especially in today’s day and age where everything is trackable. Clearly social advertising is performing well as marketing budgets are being diverted to platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and Snapchat. 

One trend that will have a great impact in 2018 is the production of original content for Facebook and Snap as well as the licensing of premium content and live sports by Facebook and Twitter. Why? It will not only move massive video ad budgets to the platforms but give them rich levels of data on what people like to watch that can be useful for increased levels of targeting.   

3. How will GDPR affect social in 2018? 

GPDR will have a limited impact on social since by and large these sites and apps collect proper permissions as part of the registration process. It’s the open web that’s more at risk as much of the data they’ve collected is not from first parties. 

However, brands need to be careful not to go to the other extreme and only look to deal with first party data to ensure they comply. Third party data is not only powerful for marketers when it comes to targeting and personalisation but it actually improves the consumer experience by allowing content and advertising to be customised based on each person’s preferences.   

4. What is the number one challenge agencies face when it comes to social?   

Many in the industry usually immediately jump to issues like brand safety or measurement. However, our research found the biggest challenge was cumbersome and ineffective operations, specifically the execution of social media campaigns.   

Over a third (36%) admitted switching between platforms to manage campaigns is the biggest annoyance of their job, something they spend over 17 hours per week doing. This was followed closely by the differences between the interfaces of all of the proprietary social buying tools (31%). While not as immediately headline-grabbing, the business impact of these operational challenges is huge when you look at the opportunity to innovate, evolve, and focus on creativity. 

5. What are the real risks associated with the lost time? 

51% of agency professionals say their campaigns are subsequently harder to complete successfully and 24% believe the speed barriers deter brands from trying to launch campaigns on all of the available channels. 

Risks associated with the lost time are also being realised in the ability of agencies to innovate and be proactive in how they service clients. Nearly a third (29%) of respondents now perceive the sacrifices being made to run social campaigns as a direct barrier to exploring new ways of adding value. This is correlated with some 41% of agency professionals who express that their agency needs to be more creative in how it serves brands to deliver real value.   

6. So how can agencies start to address this issue?   

It’s important to focus on the fundamentals. Rather than obsess over acronyms like AI or VR, it’s time to shift attention to the fundamentals like creating a single view of all the social channels and better training on the social media platforms.   

Media buying decisions today must be instantaneous, or better yet, automated. Mapping spend with insights taken from just one channel constrains planners to just a keyhole view of what is going on in the digital environment. Effective planning is based on one single, consolidated view using sophisticated datal modelling and analytics, as well as input from massive databases on global media costs and impressions.   

Equally, senior leadership needs to work closely with HR to look at both training and education courses from the industry, be that from associations, from the social channels themselves, or from third party technologies that offer accreditation.   

7. What does the agency of tomorrow look like? How will it be structured?

It is easier said than done but agencies should break down all the barriers and have no separate digital department, no separate social team, no separate creative team and no separate analytics team.   

Ultimately, marketers are working in a crowded market where agency partners that can truly engage and captivate customers across all paid media channels are harder to find. For agencies looking to stand out, this is the perfect opportunity to organise all disciplines around the client and the customer journey. 

Aaron Goldman, CMO at 4C Insights 

Image Credit: iStock