Social advertising key to digital success

Industry bigwigs weighed in on the opportunities for media buyers in the emerging digital and mobile markets at day one of the nextMedia conference.

nextMedia 2012 kicked off Monday, bringing together leading broadcast, digital and advertising bigwigs to weigh-in on the challenges and opportunities presented by the evolving digital and mobile ad spaces.

The morning saw Jonathan Perelman, VP of agency strategy and dev, BuzzFeed, Mark Melling, manager, video and mobile products, AOL Canada and Ryan Fuss, VP digital solutions, Blue Ant Media, offer insight on how to reach and engage audiences in the digital realm.

“Social is the new starting point for consumers online. They’re looking to discover, engage with and share great content,” said Perelman.”If content can be social, ads need to be the same way. Like a good TV ad, social ads can tell a story. We’ve gotten away from the story over the past couple of years.” He added that media buyers must rely less on banner ads, which are disruptive to the consumer and can’t be shared.

He pointed to a BuzzFeed promotion with Pillsbury’s crescent rolls as a good execution. The promotion saw the site post an interactive map of the U.S which showed where people were using recipes that involved the product.

Melling, on the other hand, looked to the opportunities presented by mobile and argued that while 2012 wasn’t the year of mobile for advertisers, media buyers need to begin building the advertising infrastructure for mobile and digital devices. Moreover, he said that advertisers must begin to think of mobile as more than a secondary screen, and increase their investments in multiplatform ad strategies, which include a mobile execution.

He agreed with Perelman that the ad experience mobile and digital can’t be designed to tear consumers away from the mobile environment, but must feature social and shareable content that consumers choose to engage with, even if it is advertorial.

Discussion of the opportunities presented by mobile devices continued into the afternoon, as Alan Maitland, director of sales in Canada, Millennial Media, Deb Hall, head of mobile, Olive Media, Tom Fotheringham, director digital solutions, OMD Canada, Jake Denny, sales director, Tapjoy and Neil Sweeney, president and CEO, Juice Mobile convened for a panel about the Canada’s mobile market.

Sweeney didn’t  mince words in outlining his predictions for the future of mobile.

“Mobile isn’t going anywhere. If you’re not getting into mobile, you’re putting your brand at a massive disadvantage that you may never recover from,” he said, noting that the main obstacle at the moment is finding ways to measure data across device brands, and mobile web and mobile app platforms.

Fotheringham, meanwhile, said that the market is still largely untapped, but brands are testing it out by following traditional advertising models.

But Hall argued that publishers and advertisers need to move away from trying to adapt online experiences to mobile devices, and focus instead on creating positive mobile-first executions.

Sweeney agreed, cautioning that it’s not enough to just have a mobile strategy for the sake of having it. “Advertisers need to focus on the activation element. If you’re neglecting that and just pulling your campaign from online, you’re failing,” he said, adding that advertisers need to think long and hard about how they’re engaging consumers with their mobile strategy.

For Hall, effective mobile strategies will need to take advantage of native features in mobile devices such as location-based time and day tracking, which could offer insights into consumer habits.

Top Photo: Jonathan Perelman

Bottom photo left to right: Alan Maitland, Tom Fotheringham, Deb Hall, Neil Sweeney, Jake Denny