I’m trying to remember a time when I’d be able to scroll social media without sponsored ads. And I can’t think of it. I mean, I know there was a time when social media advertising was more organic than it was paid, but when? I don’t know. Let’s Google it.
2011. Facebook introduced the option to have sponsored ads in 2011, and since then, paid social media advertising trickled to other platforms. Now, it’s become so advanced that most of the major social media apps dish out sponsored ads almost constantly onto news feeds. Hence, why I can’t remember to before 2011 when this wasn’t as prevalent.
Organic feed is so innocent. And I like it because of that. But, sponsored social media ads have a greater, more effective purpose – especially for the brands that pay for them. And for this reason, I have a list of pros and cons for the use of paid social media ads, specifically for brands.
- Sponsored ads can reach audiences much faster than organic ones. Organic feed can take many posts to get the attention brands are looking for. By paying for ads, the reach is greater, and more efficient.
- They can also reach a specific targeted audience. Facebook features something called “Facebook Targeted Ads” and Twitter features something similar called “Twitter Custom Audiences” which lets you choose who to send the sponsored ads to.
- They don’t have to be so expensive. Even for as little as a few cents for each click, this advertising method would be worth it to add to the marketing budget.
- Sponsored ads need monitoring on effectiveness. Using analytics helps to determine how any particular ad is performing. If it’s not great, maybe it’s not worth it to continue spending money on that ad.
- They also need monitoring for engagement. When there are any comments that need addressing, it may be difficult to keep up with responses within an appropriate amount of time.
- It can be difficult to learn the ins and outs of paid advertising on social media. There’s much that can go into it before sending out those ads, like learning who the right audience members are, and how to effectively post and track them.
Let’s remember though – there are two sides to the story here. There are the companies who use social media advertising, and then there are the users of the apps – also known as potential consumers of the ads. So while these pros and cons above are weighed out for brands, this doesn’t take into consideration the consumers of the ads. So, I’ve laid out one pro and con for the social media users alone, and sponsored ads that run on those apps.
Pro: A person may be looking for a product or service very specific. And while making the search, different social media ads may pop up across different apps or web browsers. This could help that person to find the exact thing they’re looking for, resulting in a faster, easier search and successful purchase.
Con: Social media is made to be addictive. And ads on social media may appear bothersome to users. With paid social media advertising, and the algorithms that pair with them, the users also may be more controlled than they realize. Their feed is their feed for a reason, and very possibly, their purpose could be to generate impressions or clicks – which then spirals into more, and more, and more. Great for businesses with those ads, but maybe invasive for the people on their apps.
Now, let’s talk about sponsored social media ads that were done right!
BarkBox is a subscription-based company that sends you and your dogs a box of toys and treats every month.
In search of paid social media ad campaigns, I came across a recent one for BarkBox. I’m not a customer of theirs, but I do get ads from the company all the time. I know it’s because I design dog products and am constantly searching online for them to get trends and design research – BarkBox likely uses Facebook Targeted Ads, and I definitely look like the right audience member for them.
I love this sponsored ad because it’s relevant to a continued quarantine due to the pandemic, it makes me interested to scroll to the other photos, and there are several call-to-actions for different reasons (although, each “get offer” leads to the same thing – the websites main page).
Regardless that I’m not a customer, I do strongly admire the quirky brand, what they do, and their products. Also, the advertising is always spot-on.
So, I did some more digging and found an awesome BarkBox ad campaign that has measured results from Facebook so we can know just how effective some of their paid ad campaigns are.
Scoob! Is an animated movie that came out in 2020. BarkBox collaborated with Warner Bros. to create a box catered to the Scoob! Movie. The launch was so successful, that BarkBox decided to re-launch it again later that same year – a remarketing tactic that’s great for established and new audience members.
The second launch was even better, as the marketing team was able to work through any kinks that showed up during the first round launch. This sponsored ad displayed on Facebook with imagery, and animated video of the movie characters and dogs enjoying the toys. Engagement included many likes, comments, and shares, and the ad campaign resulted in a 27% lift in branded search site traffic.
I think this sponsored ad campaign was so successful for a few reasons. One, because it’s remarketed. Repurposed content is a great way to engage members who’ve already shown interest in the past. Also, BarkBox used copy which reminisced voice from the movie characters themselves, which helps keep the post consistent with the content and more effective. Something great to learn from this ad campaign is how BarkBox took an already successful ad and made it even better from previous results.
The Farmer’s Dog
Of course, the next sponsored ad I have to talk about is another dog one! I mean, that’s basically all I get now for ads, and so many different dog brands do such a good job with their sponsored advertising. But maybe I also feel that way because these ads are catered to me.
Anyway, The Farmer’s Dog uses ads that involve ambassadors and influencers to increase their reach. This one in particular utilizes video from an influencer, Liz Lovery who shows the food, talks about its perks, as well as her dog who enjoys the food – for more benefits than just taste.
The ad’s copy is enticing because it calls out right away why you should be interested – because of its benefits. It’s human-grade and pre-portioned specifically for your dog, which is a huge plus for those looking to feed their dogs something that’s better for them and their health. And this ad is successful for all of those reasons.
I think something to learn from this sponsored ad is that The Farmer’s Dog used a personalized video of the actual product being used by its consumers. Video is increasingly rising in importance as it grabs viewers attention. Also, influencer marketing isn’t a bad way to get the product out either. This way, the ad might reach both The Farmer’s Dog audience, but the influencer’s as well.
Overall, sponsored ads can greatly help brands reach audiences, and fast. Of course, the ad needs to be enticing for its viewers, needs to have that audience already identified, and have call-to-actions that will get the clicks. Once a company figures that out, they’re ultimately on the right track in their marketing objectives.
Bark. Facebook for Business. (2021). https://www.facebook.com/business/success/2-bark.
Coleman, B. (2021, April 6). Paid social media: Worth the investment? HubSpot Blog. https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/paid-social-media.
Kim, L. (2021, February 17). 10 best social media Advertising tips for content marketers. WordStream. https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2016/06/30/social-media-advertising-tips.