Speaking at a knowledge seminar on the first day of Goafest 2014, Riley Peter, Head of Creative Shop (APAC) at Facebook, highlighted the changing nature of digital advertising. According to him, thinking of advertising as disruptive is wrong as customer communications should be more about creating connections rather than imposing one’s presence. With the digital medium providing numerous opportunities for advertisers and agencies to try out new things, the need of the hour, according to Peter, is versatility.
For example, said Peter, people come to Facebook to discover things that interest them and to meet and converse with like-minded people. “So, the brand messaging needs to dovetail with this expectation of users,” he explained. Basically, if a brand wants to be on someone’s timeline, it has to “earn that opportunity” instead of “thinking of it as a right”. This shows, said Peter that the whole concept of creating ads has changed.
Peter further spoke against the notion that Facebook is not a creative company when it comes to advertising. He gave a number of examples of how Facebook has worked with brands to create more targeted and relevant ad campaigns.
For example, to emphasize Facebook’s idea of contextual advertising, Peter gave the example of the digital part of Coca Cola’s “America Is Beautiful” campaign. Basically, the campaign focused on the different facets of American society, with the TVC having images showcasing the ethnic diversity of the country, along with daily activities like surfing, married couples, parents with their kids. While launching the campaign on Facebook, the social networking website hyper targeted the video ad by splitting the over 1.2 billion users on Facebook into relevant categories like “Asian Americans”, “Mid-east”, “Newly Weds”, “Women Surfers”, etc. Stills from the video were than inserted into the Newsfeed of the relevant audience. So, a user whose roots are from India, would fall in the “Asian America” niche and get a relevant still with the brand communication.
Another example he gave was of burger chain Wendy’s. This American brand utilized social listening to involve their users directly in their brand communications. So, not only was the brand keeping its ear open for what people were talking about, it also used this in a more creative manner by asking people to send in messages, which were then strung together to create a musical advertisement.
“We can take the same TV ad and use it on Facebook, which is not the right way to do things. We need to now think how we can more creatively target,” said Peter. The idea, according to him, is to pinpoint people with accuracy and hit them with scale. To make this process interesting for the audience, a creative agency needs to start thinking about the niche audience, like Coca Cola did, said Peter. And in a country like India, where individual niches might themselves run into the millions, the effectiveness of this method cannot be under-rated.
He ended his talk by speaking about the advertising industry in India. Though generally praising the quality of Indian ads, he, however, noted that Indian agencies do not use mediums like Facebook effectively, which is ironical since nearly 100 million people in India are active on Facebook. With consumers now having infinite choice and almost total control, just utilizing the same content across platforms will not endear a brand to the audience. The trick is to take a look at what people want and tailor your content accordingly; something that is much easier in this digital age.