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Dude Where's My ROI ?

Startups and small brands who’ve been seeing their results decline on Facebook are finding untapped opportunities on Pinterest, Linkedin and Amazon

So, you are a startup or an up-and-coming brand that has been having a lot of success doing user acquisition on Facebook. You’ve been doing everything right, balancing out your Facebook spend with Google Display, being smart about retargeting, even taking your vitamins.

And then, suddenly, in the past few months – your customer acquisition cost just hit a wall – or actually actively started getting worse. What happened? A couple of things:
    – Total spend on Facebook went up as it made it much easier for advertisers to buy
    – At the same time, your audience moved – not literally, of course, but its attention did. It still logs on Facebook every day, searches on Google, reads its email. But its attention has moved on – to places with much higher engagement. And with that attention – so have the newest ad formats that successfully leverage that engagement.
    – And now you suddenly see higher demand for an increasingly diluted attention base – hence, higher prices with ROI still getting worse

What can you do?

If you have a million bucks, you can try going back to TV

But if you are on a smaller budget – check out these four channels that account for a fast growing share of users’ attention and have been aggressively rolling out new advertising opportunities over the past year.

promoted pin
Ad type: Sponsored pins – CPC-based native ads; just recently rolled out CPE ads th at allow you to target popular pins
Reach: 45M
Why it works: Very high engagement. Pinterest is the fashion magazine for 2015. In addition to high engagement, since users are frequently in a “planning” mode, there’s really strong intent – which leads to more immediate purchases
Effort involved: Only recently opened up to smaller advertisers, and still on select basis – sign up for the waitlist soon !
Audience: 70% female
Best platform to reach: Fashion, clothing, home decor, beauty – with other visual topics growing fast

Ad type: Display and text ad units similar to Google’s
Why it works: Deep targeting options (Company, Job, Group) are great for reaching decision makers
Reach: 187M
Effort involved: Automatically available if you have a business page set up. Easy-to-use self-service mechanism
Audience: Indexes highest for older / male / college educated / higher income audiences
Best platform for: B2B, especially content marketing

Ad type: Anything from traditional advertising units to units that are specific to the Amazon experience
Why it works: Amazon has amazing amounts of data on its users, which makes its contextual ads incredibly powerful
Reach: 250M active users (have made at least one purchase in the past year)
Effort involved: Setup is easy, but the most powerful ad tools are available with Vendor Central, which is invite-only based on product’s sales performance
Audience: Anyone with a credit card
Best platform for: Physical consumer products

By far the smallest of all major social networks, but also the one with highest effectiveness and order sizes for the topics it covers
Ad type: Promoted Products – CPC-based native ads
Why it works: Polyvore combines the high engagement of a visual social network with deep data based on all the interactions, resulting in 6:1 return on ad spend (compared to 2:1 on other social networks)
Reach: 20M
Effort involved: Reasonably simple, but strong presence in addition to ads is preferable
Audience: Women, fashion and beauty enthusiasts
Best platform to reach: Beauty, fashion home decor

What should I think about next?

As the rate of innovation in mobile and online experiences keeps getting faster and faster, we can only expect that the best results will be found with new ad formats that do the best job of keeping up with audience engagement. We can already see the seeds of the next generation of ad units with:
    – Buy buttons on all leading platforms – Google, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook
    – Multi-ad “carousel” ad units
    – Instagram ads – will follow the Pinterest scenario where only big brands get to test this out today, but within a year SMB’s should have access as well
    – Ads in messaging apps – given the astronomic growth in usage, this is the area with huge long-term potential but plenty of uncertainty about the formats

Katya Constantine is a seasoned online marketer with over 11 years of experience. She has developed a uniquely comprehensive background in email and omni-channel marketing for large online brands. Most recently, she was at Expedia and Amazon,...

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