Highly targeted, psychographic caliber, pre-conversion Internet branding has been too often expensive. Marketers face choices between costly, explicit targeting or weaker, more generalized audience placements. This conundrum is not new. Madison Ave. Madmen of yesteryear did the best they could to target branding, hurling direct mail, train station banners, radio, newspaper and outdoor posters – always seeking the Tao of cost vs. lacking audience focus. Fast forward to today’s digital marketing era and we find CPMs are too high for most purposes outside of direct response, retargeting and other soon-attributable performance marketing KPIs.
Still, saturating markets with low-cost, even generally-targeted brand impressions is a classic tactic, transcending generations of distribution technology. Brand lift is a marketing truism we’ve known forever. Branding works and marketers have proven so over and over, generation to generation. Today, though, we can realize radically lower costs to buy psychographic targeting, build lists and measure.
Even as Facebook gradually kicked out free brand impressions to followers via company page push, the cost of video ad units has declined radically (from $01 – $.05 a video view), including ad varietals featuring buttons and other outbound website links from Facebook to your site. Today’s low cost makes mass branding campaigns feasible, targeted with psychographics at scale. For multi-touch, retention, educational, highly competitive, and other more complex conversions, think of social branding videos as PREtargeting, sometimes a crucial prerequisite to meet CPA goals.
Welcome to the era of inexpensive social brand videos that can predictably lift performance marketing KPIs
Facebook ads used to cost much more, often as high as $2.00+ per action, now reduced by percentages in the thousands. Moreover, Facebook Ads makes it’s easy to build retargeting lists of users who viewed videos for various lengths. Called video view engagement retargeting lists, marketers can tap this hot feature to organize their next-round Facebook ad targets. Twitter and YouTube videos can cost in the $.09-$.13 cent range, also astonishing values. YouTube Ads also has video view retargeting (remarketing) lists features. Costs in all three channels are fluid, contingent on factors such as competition and targeting data sources.
The Brand Search Phenomena
Brand search is the holy grail, usually the easiest targeting data for marketers to exploit. Brand campaigns are often the cheapest with the highest conversion rate. For years we’ve observed social advertising at scale causing brand search in many cases.
How many compelling branding impressions does it take until a targeted social user Googles your company’s brand keywords? In reality, it’s very difficult to say. The term “compelling” is a relative concept, contingent on many human, environmental and product variables, not the least of which is quality-of-brand. Saturation is also a relative term. For example, use a respectful social video to let users suffering a rare illness know you’ve found a cure for their particular ailment. With such powerful information, there’s a great chance the brand etched into their soul in that one-touch. Reciprocally, a boring social video promoting a bland product with no differentiation from a dozen similar products may not generate any brand searches after numerous impressions.
That said, few marketers will disagree that sustained and effective brand saturation campaigns, subway billboard to Twitter video, will lift performance marketing KPIs and increase brand keyword search frequency.
There are multiple ways to evaluate results from social video PREtargeting, cost per: views at various lengths, other engagements, attributable conversion, website clicks (to your site or landing page) and/or brand search lift. It’s fascinating to realize the entire campaign media spend can be measured for any single metric. A $3,000 spend could be expressed as:
- 75,000 total video views at $.04, targeting 10,134 users with 7.4X frequency
- 45,013 three-second video views at $.03; 10,035 five-second video views at $.07; & 7,893 eight-second video views at $.12
- 1,339 website clicks at $2.24/click
- 44 conversions at a cost of $68.19
- 94,000 total engagements (comments, likes, follows, etc.) at ~$.031
- 1,960 new brand keyword searches generated within one month, resulting in +1474 month-over-month organic search website conversions with a profit of ~ $6,439
- Within two months of $3,000/month branding, PPC performance marketing conversion lift is 1.2% in the geo, lowering CPA for 3,486 conversions from $21.33 to $19.55, at a savings of $6,205.08.
- 37 confirmed foot-traffic visitors to a mall jewelry store in the geo, 16 purchases of a ruby heart pendent with gross revenue of $7,936 and an average lifetime value of new customers of $1,468 for $23,488 total impact
- Assuming the targeting was for 10,134 existing customers 14 days before a “resubscribe” email blast, a 1.8% email re-conversion rate lift from a monthly average of 7,455 to 7,589 subscriptions, for a gain of 134 total users at $1,100 per year, totaling ~$147,400
So, which metric(s) should a marketer track? The answer is YES. As disconnected as that answer seems to the question, such is the pathology of blended KPIs. The myopic marketer is prone to knee-jerk reject social PREtargeting tactics based on initial weak single-touch conversions, expensive website clicks or any slice not directly related to immediate revenue.
The savvy marketer, on the other hand, understands our industry finally has empirical justification for branding efforts, defensible on multiple, indisputable levels. We’ve always known branding works, by feel or lower-tech conversion tracking. Now we know for sure.
Own the TV Station
Ironically, social video branding capabilities are not new. Years ago, Larry Kim and I independently evangelized use of first-touch YouTube video as an inexpensive method to initiate path-to-purchase attributable conversion. Our Aimclear team was pushing back on escalating Google AdWords inflation and thinking, why buy $7.67 keywords first? Instead, we suggested cheap branding via YouTube videos, building a viewed-video remarketing list and running expensive paid search RLSA keyword campaigns ONLY to users on the list. Because our PREtargeted videos already indoctrinated audiences, these programs were more efficient.
Different today is the ability to integrate multiple channels, measure (including offline) and universally lower costs. New hybrid ad units which result in more website clicks, cool engagement retargeting lists, auto play videos, and even greater social video consumption. Marketers can essentially own their own television stations and “broadcast” via social channels with incredible targeting. The geo can be a physical radius near a store and/or explicit psychographic targeting.
It’s hard for this marketer to believe, after all these years of unrelenting performance marketing standards, that branding is the secret sauce. I used to preach that branding is for marketers who can’t sell with one-touch! However, the game has changed and what’s old is new again, back to the future.
Test softening your conversion target with inexpensive social video impressions and engagement retargeting lists. The caveats are that the video and targeting better be superlative. Aim to elicit a powerful response in the first 2 seconds of auto-play with no sound.
Play the long game by building quantifiable awareness of your great brand. Few marketing concepts succeed as much as brand recognition. Make your brand famous to psychographic target markets and watch revenue roll in.