The next phase of social advertising

A lot of what has been called “social advertising” hasn’t been very imaginative, very effective—or very social.

Simply running display ads on social sites doesn’t make those ads social.  What make the social space different and powerful are the connections it creates between people.  So unless the ad is also doing that – creating a connection between consumers around whatever the ad is promoting – is it really social advertising?

This week, I shared the stage with Jenn Creegan of Microsoft Advertising at Social Media Week in New York. In a joint presentation we shared our work together on a campaign designed to do just that, to create social advertising through that consumer-to-consumer connection.  As part of a back-to-school campaign for Windows 7, Microsoft ran advertising powered by authentic customer word of mouth reviews from real Windows 7 customers across several owned web properties. As detailed in their blog post, “consumers found the Windows 7 ads ‘believable’ and ‘relevant.’” The campaign also drove some big improvements in key areas:

  • Ad believability increased 20 points above the market norms for technology ads
  • 6.3% lift in purchase intent
  • 13.5% lift in unaided brand awareness

When asked which type of information consumers trust most, word of mouth consistently ranks at or near the top. It’s human nature to trust what consumers say about products more than the companies that sell them, and the influence this has at the point of sale is well documented.

Smart companies understand that the power of that influence can and does extend well beyond the point of sale and can be used to create connections between consumers in new ways. Back in 2008, we wrote about how Best Buy was leading the way here, using online customer content in their newspaper circulars. Since then, we’ve seen a lot of cross-channel innovation, but to a large extent, whether through siloed business approaches or just a lack of options to bring them together, advertising and word of mouth have continued to lead very separate lives.

This is why I’m excited that today we announced that Bazaarvoice will team up with Microsoft Advertising to fuel People Powered Stories™, to bring together digital advertising and the powerful influence of word of mouth.

Word of mouth advertising.  Consumer-to-consumer connection advertising.

Social advertising.

  • http://twitter.com/arthuranswers Arthur Huynh

    It’s understandable that consumers trust word of mouth marketing the most. Our consumers are simply getting more and more sophisticated and desensitized to pure ads; they’re able to smell an advertisement and are smart enough to know that the message crafted there is engineered.

    It’s important to build genuine relationships with both your customers and their influencers. Doing so allows you to better understand their needs and also allows you to reach a greater audience due to the exponentially scaling nature of social interactions. Just take a look at this truncated map of some music bloggers.

    It’s easy to identify the influencers in each cluster. Interacting with several of the more connected individuals in this community helps you extend your reach beyond your own efforts. Couple this with messages and interactions where you add value to and enrich the conversation.

    Would you say this ties in to social advertising?