New Video Ads, But What About The Traffic?
With each passing quarter, social channels get worse and worse for driving web traffic.
Organic downstream social traffic started to clam up back in 2017, with Google once again ‘king of the castle’ for those seeking page impressions.
At the same time, social ad click-through rates (CTRs) have been falling for the past five quarters straight, according to Kenshoo’s 2019 Q2 Trends Report.
The latest release of Facebook’s new Video Poll Ads and the expansion of AR Ads, for more advertisers, suggests a further shift in the same direction.
Facebook Video poll ads are scheduled to launch this month, and AR Ads are moving into open beta globally in the next month or so.
Similarly, Playable Ads are also now available to advertisers outside of the gaming vertical.
While all of the above should no doubt be considered ad innovations, offering users more immersive ad experiences, most will come at a cost…clicks.
Facebook’s Taking A Leaf Out Of Instagram’s Book
The launch of video poll ads follows the seemingly successful launch of poll stickers for Instagram Stories Ads, which launched earlier this year.
You can include the polling sticker in Instagram Stories ads that you create in Facebook Ads Manager by using an existing post or creating a new ad.
The set-up process is a tad fiddly, although not difficult, which is perhaps why few have utilised yet.
For example, Interactive Instagram Stories ads cannot be used with Automatic ad placements at this time. On top of this, marketers must select Instagram Stories as the only placement for their campaign. Thankfully they are available on all ad objectives, but marketers do have to use single card 9:16 creative as the ad format.
It’s fair to suggest Facebook video poll ads may experience similar teething issues.
Back-end implementation is not especially intuitive within Facebook/Instagram, for all Facebook’s recent redesign efforts.
More Branding Less Clicks
In the early days of social media advertising the major players attempted to pitch their ad products in the ‘performance’ space, potentially comparative to Google.
Hence for many years marketers on Facebook, for example, attempted to run highly targeted direct response campaigns, similar in principle, but different in execution, to what would be run on Google.
However, more recently, social players have started to move away from this. Mostly due to two reasons:
- None of them (including Facebook) can compete with Google on direct response. Yet.
- Social channels are actually very good for awareness and retention (better than Google currently).
Effective social ad campaigns in 2019 tend to be much broader in terms of targeting, much less salesly in nature (at least to begin with) and sequenced around ad funnels. i.e. Show person video A, then show them message B if they watch 50%+, etc.
This is not to say social platforms cannot be used for performance activity; rather, there has been a gradual shift in focus from platforms as they chase brand dollars.
Likewise, for those desperately seeking traffic (and/or web conversions), it increasingly makes sense to ‘warm-up’ audiences first with something more engaging, before hitting them with the request to click through.
Online Walled Gardens Building Bigger Walls
The gradual reduction in social referral traffic, paid and organic, is not unique to social and even something which we see in search nowadays.
For example, a recent study claimed that roughly half of Google searches drive no clicks.
These gradual shifts in policy will no doubt require a strategic and tactical rethink for many organisations as the digital marketing paradigm shifts.
Over the past 20+ years digital marketing has, for many worldwide, worked as follows:
- Show someone a message (paid or organic)
- Push them somewhere (website, landing page, app)
- Get them to do so something (read, watch, buy)
- Rinse and repeat ad infinitum
Mature digital platforms have in recent years reached a saturation point. Therefore, for most channels audience retention becomes key, particularly within lucrative western markets.
Hence the launch of Facebook Dating, Checkout on Instagram, Google My Business Reservations, Shop The Look on Pinterest, and so on, which have all launched to lock in user attention, clicks and time.
Therefore, as we head into 2020, marketers and communicators need to be thinking about how their strategies evolve as it becomes ever more challenging to drive traffic digitally.