Jan 08, 2013

Drawing the Line Between Display Advertising and Social Media - Then Walking On It

One of the hardest concepts I struggle with, not only as an individual, but also as a digital marketing specialist is that of straddling of the fence. There is no right or wrong answer in digital marketing, perhaps that’s why it’s so misunderstood and at times underutilized. All questions seem to have an “it depends” answer and it then becomes a job of weighing one side against another in order to make a decision – and of course, revenue usually drives those decisions. You all may be wondering where these rambling thoughts are coming from, so let me back track to the origins of this rant…

A few months ago, major retailer and designer, Gucci, released a “pinnable” display ad. While the ad itself was visual enough to pin, users that engaged with the “pin it” button found that they had two different options to pin - the actual ad itself or just the product within the ad.


This concept to me makes sense – connecting display with social. But then again maybe it doesn’t? I can understand adding a direct route to one of the brand’s social properties from the ad, but this adds another step in the purchasing process if the user were to only click on the “pin it” button. This concept not only rides the line between display advertising and social media, but between direct response (DR) marketing and branding. I like the way Nic Drabicky of Marketing Land summed it up in a recent article. Direct response and brand marketing will become one…in a 1+1=3 sort of fashion. Maybe combining these efforts doesn’t necessarily give us a conventional outcome, but something entirely new.

Back to the original thought, what does this do for the brand? How is this relevant to consumers? Or is it? Those answers may not have a black or white answer but a new shade of gray. Display and social have very similar purposes so it only seems natural to bring the two together - one has a strength where other lacks. While display advertising has the analytics and tracking that social media wishes it had, social media holds all the personal information that display networks die for. If display networks had the information that social media accounts had, display ads would be the single most effect means of online advertising hands down. But, nothing is ever that simple.

I truly believe 2013 will be the year brands start to “get it”. Understanding that marketing is not a one-size-fits all solution and that digital marketing efforts should not and do not belong in silos but in one big fully functioning ecosystem. I think display and social media is one place to start testing this theory (other integrated marketing options being social search optimization and PPC + social media). It gives brands great insight into who actually saw the ad (and maybe did not click it) and still liked it enough to share or post. Because brands speak to a multitude of consumers, some are buyers, some are lookers, some are wannabes, some are haters, etc., sometimes you just have to try different ways of integrating your digital marketing efforts to see which will work best for your brand. You have to start somewhere. Once you find the right mix, play around with the mixture until you find the right balance. Then you can confidently walk the line between those marketing tactics on a newly created type of crossover. Marketing (and life to that matter) is just a balancing act…remember everything in moderation, including moderation.