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3 Overlooked Strategies for Measuring the True Value of Paid Social Advertising

 In PPC and Remarketing, Social Media Marketing

Amongst Paid Media channels, Paid Social can be perhaps the most difficult to evaluate in terms of performance and overall contribution to a business. Traditional metrics measured by channel (CPL/CPA, ROAS, Click/Lead%, and overall ROI) can be misleading, and in many cases obscure the true value that Paid Social is providing. To evaluate performance, often one must look a few layers deep to uncover what could be the best value in digital marketing.

1. Engagements. Reactions, Video View stats, Comments, Saves, Shares: these are the most overlooked metrics associated with Paid Social. Engagement in 2021 goes beyond a simple Like, Follow, or reactive Emoji. Today, Social Platforms provide numerous engagement opportunities for users to interact, most of which can be tracked within your ad campaigns.

  • Video Views, Through-Plays, Average View Time, and Watch %. Video metrics provide valuable insights into media performance relative to a specific viewing audience. This, in addition to relative ad performance gains vs. still images, has prompted most social media platforms to offer native video as an option for ad creative. Video performance data such as Average View Time and Watch % give high-level insight into Video quality and audience relevance. Watch % combined with Through-Plays/Completions provides holistic viewership data which can be utilized for a variety of purposes, such as determining target audience characteristics to evaluate when/where it is best to deploy specific content.Tip: In addition to audience, length of video and campaign objective will generally have direct influence on viewing metrics and should be taken into consideration when evaluating video performance. Example: A longer video with a maximum Reach objective will generally have lower View metrics relative to a shorter duration video being used in a remarketing campaign.
  • Comments. Have you ever noticed that a specific ad is getting comments? At the very least it can be a positive indicator that your ad and your audience are a good match. My advice: take a minute and read what these users are saying. Ad comments can give unfiltered, word-of-mouth insights into your product, service, or brand. Comments that contain a specific theme or similar descriptors can provide insightful trend data into how a certain audience feels about your business. Positive or negative, these candid comments can be actionable data points that expensive and time-consuming CSAT or NPS surveys may have never uncovered. Finally, take note of how users speak about your product or business. Is it formal/informal? Use of specific phrases or references? Ad comments may inspire new methods to speak to your audience in a way that better resonates.
  • Saves and Shares. This is another indicator of ad-to-audience relevance, with the extra benefit of extended reach and impressions – for free. When a user Saves an ad and returns to view, no advertising charges apply; the impression is similar to an organic/viral post even though it is a result of your Paid Social campaign. Even better: when a user shares your ad to their own or a friend’s profile, the ad has the potential of being displayed within the individual user’s audience, free of charge. As any impression, click or interaction as a result of a saved ad are free, an ad with multiple shares can significantly boost campaign performance without adding additional advertising costs.

2. Offline Conversions. Can Paid Social platforms offer the ability to attribute leads or sales that occur off platform or entirely offline? Yes! Offline Conversions allow an advertiser to connect owned/earned customer data (usually in-store or direct channel sales) to anonymized social media profiles that either clicked or viewed an ad from a specific campaign – even if they did not convert through existing tracking methods.

Typical real-world example: A user sees your Instagram ad, which motivates them to open your website to research your product, but the user leaves without purchasing. This user then goes to your store and buys your product, during which their purchaser information is captured (Name, address, phone, etc.). Without Offline Conversion tools, you would have no data to show that this purchase was likely driven or influenced in some way by the initial Instagram ad.

Offline Conversion tools offer quantitative insight into campaign performance beyond last-click ROI/ROAS metrics, and represent an important data source for multi-touch attribution modeling. To know if your current customers were touched/influenced by your Paid Social campaigns, just format your customer data in a .CSV and upload and filter by your preferred attribution type and window.

Disclaimer: There are some variations and limitations to offline conversions that are specific to platform functionality, the type and volume of customer data being uploaded, and with audience match-rates. Data derived from these tools alone is unlikely to represent a complete view into attributable campaign performance.

3. The Paid Social “Halo Effect”. Did you ever notice that non-social channels performed better when your social ads campaigns were live? This phenomenon can be explained in part by the influence of Paid Social. As advertisers we generally prefer quantitative metrics that can be easily sorted, analyzed, and directly connected to a specific result, and we occasionally lose perspective of the holistic value that each channel contributes to an overall marketing effort.

Advertising logic tells us that impressions and traffic can (and often do) have an overall impact on bottom-line profitability. When evaluating specific ad platforms, it is important to understand the interrelationship between channels. Simple tests can be deployed to understand these connections quantitatively, such as A/B testing individual channels with and without social ads. Even without testing, it is a widely accepted concept that adding Paid Social to a marketing effort will likely lead to increased overall results – particularly with organic and paid search conversion.

Are you an advertiser looking to measure the true value of Paid Social within your media mix? Contact the OpenMoves team today for an expert of analysis of your PPC channel strategy.

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