What’s Next for Advertisers on Twitter with Elon Musk as an Owner?

What’s Next for Advertisers on Twitter with Elon Musk as an Owner?

Twitter

Will advertisers leave Twitter under Elon Musk’s ownership? That question is getting bandied about a lot these days. That’s because of widespread speculation that Musk will relax Twitter’s content moderation policies. This, in turn, could conceivably create brand safety issues by making controversial content more prevalent on the app, which has nearly 400 million monthly active users. For example, Advertising Age reported that “Marketers are worried that Musk will reopen the floodgates on uncivil behavior on the platform.” Ad agencies consulted by Ad Age said that their clients are increasingly asking about the risks of staying on Twitter. Here’s what I think will happen:

  • Some advertisers will flee Twitter and never return.
  • Some advertisers will put Twitter advertising on pause but eventually return to Twitter.
  • Most advertisers will do nothing.

The fact of the matter is this: advertisers have shown by their actions that they have a higher tolerance for social media controversy than news media reports might have you believe. We have seen time and again controversies erupt on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Most recently, Facebook became the target of widespread public scorn after whistle blower Frances Haugen, an ex-Facebook employee, shared internal documents that showed Facebook executives knowingly allowed its algorithm to publish harmful and divisive content on users’ news feeds.

The resulting expose, published in The Wall Street Journal, also sparked speculation that advertisers would leave Facebook. Some did. But most did not. Why? Because the fact that a publisher and aggregator of news content (which is what Facebook does) knowingly shares divisive information was not exactly shocking news to advertisers. Mainstream news media have been attracting audiences by publishing divisive content for decades, long before the internet existed. And they’re doing so today. As a result, advertisers have a higher tolerance for conflict than Facebook’s critics did.

What really hurt Facebook was Apple. Facebook’s parent, Meta, disclosed recently that the company would suffer a $10 billion revenue hit in 2022 because of the impact of Apple’s iPhone privacy controls launched in 2021. Meta’s stock tanked dramatically so as a result. Why? Because privacy controls would likely make ad targeting more difficult on Facebook. It was ad targeting, not a Wall Street Journal expose about the company’s culture, governance, and content policies, that hurt Facebook.

The real concern among advertisers is not whether controversial content will appear on Twitter. The fact is that controversial content already does appear on Twitter. Advertisers are more concerned that their ads could appear alongside controversial content. This is more of an issue with how an app manages its algorithm. YouTube, for instance, landed in hot water recently because advertisers’ content was appearing alongside hate speech, but most advertisers understood then (and understand now) that it’s impossible to stamp out hate speech completely. Many more also understand that controversial content is not necessarily hate speech. These realities are part of being a brand on social media – and they always have been.

Twitter has been down this road before, too, such as when a major hack involving a crypto currency scam embarrassed the platform and cast a spotlight on how easy it is for bad actors to exploit Twitter to commit crimes. Or when the proliferation of trolls and bots threatened Twitter’s reputation. Advertisers were concerned, to be sure, but for the most part they reacted by pressuring Twitter to improve its algorithm as opposed to demanding wide-scale changes in how Twitter operates fundamentally.

My advice to advertisers is:

  • Keep advertising on Twitter if you are satisfied with your results so far.
  • Monitor brand safety closely, but that’s true whether you are advertising on Twitter or any other social media app.
  • Watch where your audience goes. There is a very real possibility that ongoing controversy at Twitter could cause a drop in users. The question is whether your audience will leave Twitter. It’s a question. It’s not a certainty. Work with your agency partner to keep tabs on the situation, but don’t make assumptions based on news headlines.

True Interactive monitors developments on social media all the time as part of being a well-informed partner to our clients. Keep watching this blog for updates.

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Twitter image by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash

Elon Musk image by https://pixabay.com/illustrations/elon-musk-space-elon-spacex-tesla-6222396/

 

Twitter Goes 3D with Advertising — Should You?

Twitter Goes 3D with Advertising — Should You?

Twitter

Three-dimensional advertising can create an immersive encounter for users, and Twitter clearly understands this: the social networking service recently announced the launch of a new advertising unit, Product Explorer Ads, which displays content in a 3D format. No, special glasses are not required to view these ads! Product Explorer Ads display merchandise through a 3D-like experience within a promoted tweet.

The What

This is the first time Twitter has facilitated a way for products to be shown off in 3D, and it’s turning out to be an interactive experience: users can swipe and rotate an advertised item in order to see it from different angles, and click a “Shop Now” button to make a purchase at the brand’s website. Advertisers are already spiking an interest: New Balance is among the brands currently testing Product Explorer Ads.

 

For Twitter, the new format constitutes one more way to support advertisers’ outreach to consumers. As reported in Social Media Today, Twitter is looking to “boost usage and revenue significantly over the next two years,” and seems to be hoping 3D will help do so. It’s also an interesting learning curve: “As we kick off early experiments, we’ll aim to understand how the new formats resonate with consumers and drive results for advertisers,” Twitter said on its business page. “We’ll test, learn, and iterate based on performance and customer feedback.”

In Good Company

Twitter isn’t the only platform diving into 3D formats. Meta is also building up its 3D advertising capabilities. In a new partnership with 3D modeling provider VNTANA, Meta is exploring ways for brands to run 3D ads on Instagram and Facebook. The idea is that brands will be able to upload 3D models of their products to either platform and convert them into ads.

This embrace of 3D certainly makes sense. According to eMarketer, 3D and mobile augmented reality advertising revenues are on the rise; one ARtillery estimate hints at 134 percent growth over the next three years.

Our Advice to Brands

If your product lends itself to creating 3D ads, by all means now is the time to explore these types of formats.

But don’t treat 3D technology like a shiny new toy—or embrace it just because it’s new. Three-dimensional advertising is a promising format for sure, but remember first that your ad campaign needs to target the right customers with the right message at the right time—and on the right platform for your brand. If your customer base is not using Twitter, for example, no amount of cool 3D technology will have much impact, and advertising there may not make sense, period. Don’t embrace 3D for 3D’s sake; do so because it serves your brand and the story you are trying to tell.

Contact True Interactive

New technology is undeniably exciting. Wondering how to make sense of what’s out there, and what best supports your brand? Contact us. We can help.

Photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash

What Does the Redesigned Instagram Content Feed Mean to Brands?

What Does the Redesigned Instagram Content Feed Mean to Brands?

Instagram

Instagram is giving more power to the people. Meta, Instagram’s parent, has announced that the social networking service will now give users two new ways to view their feeds: “Following” and “Favorites” (the standard “Home” experience, based on by the Instagram algorithm, is still an option too). Let’s take a closer look at these alternatives and what the development means for brands.

Following vs. Favorites vs. Home

So, what are these options, exactly? Essentially, Instagram wants to give users more control over what they see. For context, let’s review the experience Instagram users are accustomed to getting: the Home experience. This is an algorithm-based feed by which Instagram presents content that Instagram thinks users will be most interested in, based on their viewing habits. Notably, the Home experience is not purely chronological—it’s grounded first and foremost in user interests.

Instagram’s hunch is that the Home experience will remain the preferred go-to for users, so they’ve made it the default. As an Instagram spokesperson explained to CNET, “people have a better experience on Instagram with a ranked feed, so we won’t be defaulting people into a chronological feed.”

But now, based on a March 23 announcement from Meta, users also have the choice of a chronological experience with the Following and Favorites options:

  • The Following option presents a steady feed of posts from all the people one follows.
  • Favorites gives users the ability to further curate what they see by allowing them to designate up to 50 accounts they want to view higher in their feeds.

Users can make changes to their Favorites list at any time (people are not notified when they are added or removed).

Both Following and Favorites show posts in chronological order, making it easy to catch up on recent posts.

How Might Brands Adapt?

According to Ad Age, the chronological feed (for both Following and Favorites) may prove advantageous to advertisers and facilitate more real-time marketing opportunities. Amber Gallihar Boyes, director analyst at research firm Gartner, notes, “On the brand and creator side, there is an excitement and optimism about [the new structure]. I’ve seen creators just really feeling beaten down by lack of reach on Instagram and this gives them some element of control because they can make sure they’re connecting with their most loyal fans and followers.”

Live situations already lend themselves to Instagram, but the chronological feed, by creating a sense of immediacy, could prove especially beneficial to marketers during events like the Oscars or the Super Bowl.

“If you play it right [as a brand] you can almost . . . give people the experience that ‘if you’re not there when it happens, you’re missing out,’” Shawn Francis, head of creative at social media marketing company We Are Social, explains. He adds that it behooves brands or creators to ask “what content can you put out that makes people say, ‘I have to follow this brand in real-time.’”

In other words? Brands can lean into that FOMO.

They can also lobby to be on the coveted Favorites list: some creators are even putting out tutorials to teach fans how to add to their Favorites feed, presumably with the hope that their brand name will place high on the list when it’s created.

But achieving Favorites status is no slam dunk. “With 50 spots, people will be selective,” Nicholas Stoeckle, executive director of strategy and innovation at advertising and production company PPK, points out.

Competitive as it is, the Favorites list will certainly give brands a clearer sense of who their most loyal fans are, based on whether the brand makes it into a given Favorites section. Brands and creators will also get the opportunity to experiment with different posting times, to see if there are “sweet spots” for them in the chronological feed.

Contact True Interactive

Social media platforms are constantly evolving to meet users’ needs, and Instagram’s recent announcement is just one example. Trying to stay abreast of —and to leverage — these changes? Contact us. We can help.

2022 Advertising and Marketing Predictions

2022 Advertising and Marketing Predictions

Advertising

Welcome to a new, adventurous year of advertising and marketing. The traditional tech giants are going to continue to fight each other for dominance – while TikTok will tap into the burgeoning creator economy to challenge them all for a slice of the advertising pie. Retailers everywhere are creating ad networks, but Amazon and Walmart have already established strong leadership early on. For the most part, businesses will be spending more – more on TikTok, more on Amazon, more on Google, and probably more on Apple’s fledgling ad business. But will they spend more on Meta? Read on for our insights into the year ahead.

Retailer Media Networks Proliferate – and Meta Loses Ground

One of the big stories of 2021 was the proliferation of media businesses operated by retailers such as Amazon, Macy’s, Target, and Walmart. In 2022, we’ll see more of them. Retailers are under great pressure to squeeze more margin out of their core businesses as the industry endures uncertainty. The most well established networks – Amazon and Walmart – are thriving because they tap into the data they collect about their customers (first-party data) to sell targeted advertising on their sites. In 2022, more retailers will use first-party data to help businesses create more targeted ads off-site, too, as an antidote to Apple’s privacy controls. In addition, non-retailers with large troves of first-party data, such as TikTok, will expand the same way.

I also believe Meta’s ongoing push into immersive reality will lose momentum. Meta has made an even bigger push into immersive reality (e.g., virtual reality and augmented reality) as part of its attempt to become the builder of the metaverse. Meta also intends for immersive reality to help the company maintain a dominant hold on social media and to squeeze upstarts such as Roblox out of the market. But the horse is already out of the barn: there are just too many players such as Roblox and Snapchat developing immersive reality applications for Meta to play copycat and use its size as an an advantage. And Meta has faced so much public blowback over its size and reach that squeezing out smaller players makes Meta more of a target for anti-trust regulation. Meta will lose ground, and gaming platforms such as Roblox will ascend in power.

— Tim Colucci, vice president, digital marketing

TikTok Dominates

TikTok is the world’s most visited site in the Internet in 2021, toppling Google, according to Cloudfare. TikTok will become the leader in paid social. Videos and fast-breaking cultural trends are becoming more prominent factors across all social media marketing, and TikTok has mastered both. Oh, and TikTok has another big trump card to play: the site is a magnet for Gen Z and Millennials, who together comprise about 42 percent of the U.S. population. As a recent New York Times profile noted, advertisers “are present like never before, their authentic-seeming advertisements dropped in between dances, confessionals, comedy routines and makeovers.” But TikTok is just beginning to monetize all that interest from advertisers. TikTok will follow the example set by Amazon Advertising and roll out more ad units that capitalize on the customer data the company is collecting. And look to TikTok to become a social commerce giant. If you thought 2021 was the year of TikTok, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

— Bella Schneider, digital marketing manager

The Creator Economy Gets Real

The creator economy refers to a class of businesses comprising millions of independent content creators and influencers. We are reading more about them partly because apps such as TikTok have given them more power and influence. The creator economy will become even more powerful. That’s because collaboration networks are proliferating. These networks give creators an all-in-one platform to create communities and build influence. In addition, gaming sites such as Roblox and Twitch offer creators opportunities to monetize their work with potential partnerships with brands, and crypto currency sites such as Rally.io make it possible for creators to mint their own currency. The big social networks such as Meta are responding by making themselves more attractive to creators. More businesses will tap into niche networks to partner with emerging creators who are lesser-known but possess tremendous street cred. Big-name partnerships with stars will still thrive, but the social media icons will need to make room for the new kids in town.

— Mark Smith, co-founder

Tech Titans Roar

We hear a lot about the big technology firms facing increased scrutiny from Congress and legislators around the world. But to me the more intriguing story is how the tech titans keep trying to outmuscle each other for advertising revenue, an example being Apple enacting privacy controls to hurt Facebook’s ad business. 2022 will ratchet up the fight:

  • Apple will start leveraging and monetizing the data they are collecting (and not allowing others to collect) in the form of some type of advertising platform. This is the culmination of Apple’s stricter privacy controls.
  • Google will remove more visibility and targeting options in the name of advances in machine learning and automation, thus protecting its core ad business by taking more control of it.
  • An increasing number of platforms will emerge that use first-party data to target and track and savvy advertisers will take advantage of this and diversify their advertising spend
  • Amazon will grow with even more ad units for Amazon Advertising and marketing offerings such as livestreamed commerce for businesses of all size, especially smaller ones. Google and Meta will lose market share.

Unfortunately, we can count on CPCs to rise across all platforms as they attract more businesses competing for ad inventory and keywords. It’s going to be a more expensive 2022, but also a more interesting one with more ad units proliferating.

— Kurt Anagnostopoulos, co-founder

Google Ads Become More Powerful

Given the evolution of keyword matching (now AI-powered to serve ads based on the meaning of a search query), and the simplification of the ad product offerings (as Google deprecating Expanded Text Ads next summer), we will see Google Ads become leaner but more powerful. Advertisers will be forced to rely more and more on Google’s algorithm to drive results – all this, at the expense of reduced control advertisers have over campaign settings (ad content, keyword matching, targeting choices, etc.). I believe the biggest changes will continue to happen on Google’s back end as it seeks to make the algorithm (automated bidding strategies used in ad campaigns) smarter. Thus, we will see increased focus on cookie-less conversion tracking and an expansion of first-party data collection capabilities in Google Ads (i.e., scaling up enhanced conversions).

— Héctor Ariza, digital marketing and analytics manager

Social Media Ad Dollars Get Redistributed

Lush Cosmetics recently said it is quitting Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok over concerns that those platforms have a negative impact on teens’ mental health. (The company will remain active on LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube.) Lush said it will happily lose $13 million in sales because of the digital detox. It remains to be seen whether Lush will reactivate the accounts it quit (Lush quit some social sites in 2019 before returning), and of course a big question is whether more businesses will take such a drastic approach. I don’t think we’ll see more businesses take the Lush approach – social media is just too important – but they will shift some of their ad dollars away from Facebook and Instagram. In the past, businesses have remained loyal to Facebook (now known as Meta) because the site is critical to their advertising and marketing strategies. But the whistleblowing activities of ex-Meta employee Frances Haugen have raised the stakes. She asserted that Meta has kept internal research secret for two years that suggests its Instagram app makes body image issues worse for teenage girls. Businesses will monitor what their customers, investors, and employees say about Meta especially in this era of purpose-driven branding. Some will shift their advertising to Snapchat and TikTok while Meta takes the heat for brand safety issues. But this shift may be temporary. Meta will probably mollify brands with some updates to its products to create more brand safety, as it is already doing with its news feed to address concerns over lack of user control over their news feeds. In addition, Meta faces the ongoing threat of regulatory oversight. More accountability will come to Meta in 2022.

— Beth Bauch, director, digital marketing

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To succeed in the ever-changing world of online advertising, contact True Interactive. Read about some of our client work here.

Image source: https://pixabay.com/photos/year-2022-track-new-year-calendar-6786741/

 

Why Facebook Launched Shoppable Groups

Why Facebook Launched Shoppable Groups

Facebook

We all need a little help from our friends, and Facebook is leaning into this reality with its Shops in Groups. The social networking behemoth has announced that it will be making it easier to shop for products on the app, using connections with friends and trusted creators to gain inspiration — and find just the right gift. This development underscores how important social media is becoming as the holiday shopping season ramps up.

Facebook Announces Shoppable Groups

Facebook describes its mandate this way: Facebook wants to introduce new tools to “make shopping and buying better on our apps.” And Shops in Groups allows users to support the communities they are interested in by buying products from them. One example? Shops in Groups makes it possible for members of OctoNation, an octopus fan group on Facebook, to directly purchase stickers, mugs, and apparel related to their passion for the eight-limbed mollusks.

TechCrunch describes the new feature as follows: admins of Facebook groups can essentially set up an online store on their associated Facebook Page, and the admins can determine where the money goes. In the case of OctoNation, mentioned above, profits go straight to OctoNation’s nonprofit. And as Yulie Kwon Kim, Meta’s VP of Product Management, notes, the shops can offer a revenue stream to group admins, who tend to be volunteers. She says, “The money goes to the group admin, and they can decide how they want to use it. This is a great way for people to sustain and keep the group going.”

The feature appears to have legs: Ad Age reports that after testing on a smaller number of groups, Facebook is opening up shoppability to another 100,000 groups. And it’s worth noting how flexible the setup can be: groups can link to sites such as a Facebook Shop, Shopify store, or BigCommerce store. Making Groups shoppable is important because, as Facebook points out, more than 1.8 billion people are using Facebook Groups every month.

Facebook Shoppable Groups in the Context of Social Shopping

Facebook is tapping into the rise of social shopping — also known as social commerce. As we’ve blogged, social shopping accelerated in popularity during the pandemic — and it’s showing no sign of slowing down. Social media has evolved along with this trend, working to meet the needs of users who are inspired by what they see online.

The numbers are telling. According to ChannelAdvisor, 57 percent of people aged 26 to 35 had researched a product on Facebook. People on Facebook are not only receptive to social shopping, they are actually doing it. And according to Retail Dive, a whopping 87 percent of Gen Z will be looking to social media for shopping inspiration.

chart showing Instagram usage

Facebook is determined not to miss out on this trend. Moreover, the tech giant wants to give people more reasons to stay engaged with Facebook and use its advertising products.

What Brands Should Do

What does this mean for your brand? We suggest:

  • If you sell products online, consider Facebook as more than an advertising platform. Learn more about features such as Shops in Groups.
  • Master Facebook advertising products that appeal to people on Facebook (or find a partner who can do the heavy lifting for you – we manage Facebook advertising for our clients). The platform is clearly committed to making itself more engaging and useful to users: consider how that investment might benefit your brand.
  • As ever, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Balance your online presence between the major platforms that offer value in advertising — and shoppability.

Contact True Interactive

Eager to explore what Facebook — and other platforms — have to offer your brand? Contact us. We can help. Learn more our social media expertise here and our experience with shopping tools here.

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

Why Big Retailers Are Ramping up Holiday Shopping Promotions – and What Advertisers Should Do

Why Big Retailers Are Ramping up Holiday Shopping Promotions – and What Advertisers Should Do

Advertising

It still feels a bit like summer in early October, and retailers are already starting to ramp up their holiday shopping promotions:

  • On September 29, Walmart announced its Top-Rated by Kids Toy List, “featuring the must-have toys of the holiday season.”
  • On September 30, Target announced that its Holiday Price Match Guarantee would kick off October 10 (earlier than ever) and that Target Deal Days would be back October 10-12.
  • Amazon quickly responded on October 4 by releasing “Black Friday-worthy deals.”

Why are these retailers getting out in front of the holiday season, and what are the implications for other advertisers?

Digging Deeper in Major Announcements

The announcements require a bit of unpacking.

Target’s Holiday Price Match Guarantee allows shoppers to request a price adjustment on all qualifying items purchased if they go on sale before December 24. This news sends a signal that Target expects shoppers to begin looking for deals earlier in the season.  On the other hand, Target Deal Days and the Walmart Top-Rated Kids Toy list (the largest ever such list by Walmart) are clearly intended to stoke shopper demand for the holidays. As Target announced, “For three full days, shoppers can get a head start checking off their holiday lists with incredible deals on favorite products like Beats, fleece, kitchen gifts and more.”

Amazon made the most overt holiday land grab with its October 4 announcement. The company’s epic-length 3,000-word press release looked like a laundry list of holiday deals and related news, ranging from discounts for “need to have electronics” to a detailed list of gift guides. The announcement was peppered with references to Black Friday – an attempt to gain the upper hand on traditional offline Black Friday events.

What the Announcements Mean

Retailers want to stoke demand now for a few reasons:

  • They want to capitalize on the anticipated surge in holiday spending resulting from pent-up demand for discretionary goods. Buoyed by stimulus checks, consumers have been confounding economists with their robust spending, showing once again how unpredictable consumer behavior can be during the pandemic.
  • Retailers also want to encourage people to buy now before the effects of the global supply chain crisis kick in. The lingering supply chain bottleneck is expected to result in higher prices and product shortages later in the holiday season. Retailers want people to spend now when consumers are more likely to find what they want.
  • Retailers are also following a practice that has prevailed since before the pandemic: extending Black Friday. For the past few years, retailers have been tinkering with the Black Friday format as holiday shopping becomes more multi-channel. Black Friday as an in-store event still matters very much, and in 2021, with shopping returning to pre-pandemic behaviors, we should see the offline Black Friday becoming more popular again. But Black Friday has changed forever: it’s an online event, too, and retailers are no longer constricted to saving Black Friday deals until the day after Thanksgiving.

So, in a sense, bellwether retailers are following a pattern they started in recent years – creating holiday shopping demand earlier – but with a newfound sense of urgency to get out in front of the impact of the supply chain bottleneck.

What Advertisers Should Do

  • Realize that when big retailers launch holiday promotions, they create general consumer awareness of the holiday shopping season. As a result, retailers should expect an uptick in searches for holiday sales and promotions. Now might be a good time to capitalize on that increased search activity to activate your own campaigns.
  • Create a sense of urgency in your holiday campaigns – but don’t overplay your hand. If you expect the supply chain bottleneck to create limited inventory later this season, do get proactive about promoting deals now, and let shoppers know why they need to act sooner rather than later. But be careful with your tone. A “shop now and avoid headaches later” approach could backfire if your inventory levels are not affected as seriously as you thought they would.
  • If you’re an Amazon Advertising customer, optimize your holiday advertising now by maximizing the value of Amazon’s various advertising products, such as Sponsored Ads. Amazon also recommends experimenting with video with shoppable links, Amazon Live, and actionable ads (voice and remote). Amazon raising awareness for holiday shopping deals is like the rising tide that lifts all boats. With increased awareness for holiday deals comes more search traffic on Amazon, and you should capitalize on that.
  • Capitalize on Google advertising products. Inevitably, the increased chatter about the holidays from these big retailers will create an uptick in searches for holiday merchandise online. For example, Discovery ads are designed to show more relevant products in moments where customers are exploring their interests in Google’s feeds.
  • As shoppers respond to the holiday blitz, make sure you are using all tools at your disposal to accelerate the path to purchase. For instance, we’ve discussed on our blog the rise of social commerce options on apps such as Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and TikTok, which make it easier for shoppers to browse and shop with an easy click. Snapchat recently shared a holiday shopping guide with detailed campaign strategies. Snapchat notes that most Snapchatters start planning gift purchases and creating wishlists two-to-three months before Christmas. Snapchat urges retailers to launch holiday ads in October to stay top of mind with shoppers who are browsing for gifts and building wish lists.
  • Manage your expectations – and shoppers’, too. Yes, there will be an uptick in search and shopping behavior sooner than normal. But human nature is not going to change: many people will continue to wait until the last minute to do their shopping. Have a game plan in place to respond to shoppers who experience product shortages (if indeed predictions for the 2021 season play out as expected). Be ready for an uptick in negative reviews, and be ready to respond. Retailers should also be ready to offer top rated alternatives to products out of stock as this example shows.

Contact True Interactive

At True Interactive, we help businesses maximize their online spend all year-round, and we have deep experience managing holiday shopping campaigns online, ranging from campaigns on Google to Amazon Advertising. Contact us to learn how we can help you.

Why Discord Matters to Advertisers

Why Discord Matters to Advertisers

Social media Uncategorized

Discord is a free voice, video, and text chat app that’s used by people aged 13 and up to chat and essentially hang out. Initially launched in 2015 as a home for gamers, the app has since expanded its reach and now attracts users from gaming and non-gaming communities alike. To say it’s popular is something of an understatement: the app enjoys more than 150 million monthly active users as of July 2021. But it accepts no advertising.

Why should advertisers care about Discord? Read on to learn more.

What Is Discord?

Users have embraced Discord as a way to connect with friends on a daily basis. Available for Mac, PC, iPhone, and Android devices, the app facilitates talk around any number of topics, from homework to mental health to travel.

Discord is mostly used by small and active communities who like to connect regularly, and for these groups the app follows an invite-only protocol. But larger, more open communities also flourish on Discord; these larger communities can be public, and tend to focus on specific topics like gaming, the app’s original mandate. Minecraft, for example, draws a large following.

As Discord puts it, shared interests drive the conversation.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, an entire vocabulary exists to help users navigate the app: “servers” are the spaces created by communities or friend groups (as Business Insider describes it, servers are a less-formal version of the Slack app). Any user can initiate a new, free server, and invite their friends; individual servers promote their own topics and rules. Discord servers are subsequently organized into text and voice “channels,” which are typically devoted to specific topics. Users can post (type) messages on text channels; they can also upload files and share images. Voice channels allow users to communicate real-time through a voice or video call.

There are literally thousands of Discord servers, so whether your jam is cute cats or a game like Fortnite, a Discord server that reflects your interests probably already exists.

Why Discord Matters to Businesses

But there’s no advertising. So, why should businesses care?

In a word: presence. Even though Discord is an ad-free platform, brands can and do maintain a presence there. Think of Discord as a social-listening tool. As reported in Marketing Dive, Discord is a source for learning about emerging culture and trends. By following Discord, brands can figure out fresh was to become culturally relevant with their marketing.

What does that look like, exactly? Essentially, brands can create their own branded communities on Discord, places where they can interact head-on with their most loyal customers. These communities are a zone where brands and consumers connect over common interests — and there might be a perk or surprise in there for the customer, to boot.

Virtual events are popular on the app: consider the Q&A fashion retailer AllSaints hosted in May, in which the menswear designer gave users a peek into how its styles have changed over the years. Chipotle took a different tack, hosting a virtual job fair on Discord that allowed the fast-casual restaurant chain to announce a hike in wages (to $15 an hour), and gave current employees an opportunity to talk about benefits and career paths.

Of course, for some brands, the app’s gaming roots are a rich vein to mine. Consider teen retailer Hot Topic, which initiated a Discord server specifically targeting fans of Japanese anime. Hot Topic relies on its own presence to support anime fandom, which overlaps with Hot Topic’s own audience.

What Brands Should Do

What does all this mean for your brand? We recommend that you:

  • Keep in mind Discord’s audience. Are they your audience? In other words, does Discord promote a niche that represents common ground for your brand and a community of Discord users?
  • Do your homework and learn from how other brands are succeeding on Discord. Discord users seem to respond to authentic conversations and events on the app. How can you capitalize on this? Keep in mind the Hot Topic example: the retailer tapped into a theme already established as part of the Hot Topic brand — then ran with it. They didn’t pretend to be something they’re not or try to shoehorn themselves into a conversation that didn’t make sense.
  • Listen and watch closely for ideas to inform your advertising beyond Discord. What can you learn from the ways Discord connects with its audience?

Contact True Interactive

Interested in exploring Discord—or another chat app? Contact us. We can help you stake your claim.