Know Thy Audience

By Daniel Maxson | September 2, 2011

social media, advertising


Today, consumers have more options than ever to avoid advertising. Ad-blocking browser software allows you to drastically cut down on banner ads. TiVo allows you to fast forward through television commercials. Satellite radio like Sirius lets you listen to the radio with less ads. If an ad interrupts an online video you’re streaming, you can just switch tabs.  These radical changes of the past 10 years have forced brand managers to find ways to promote products that are appealing to and accepted by their audience. 
Bluefin Labs (an advertising research firm specializing in social-TV analysis) recently found that major sports events can generate more Twitter dialogue than top-rated television shows. For instance, when measured against Glee’s 7.8 response level (a measure of engagement for television audiences), the 2011 NBA Finals netted an 8.44 response level. And that’s not even touching the 2011 Super Bowl’s 9.2 response rating. Just think back to how many of your friends you gushed over the 2011 Superbowl VW Darth Vader ad with. Exactly.
With the rise of social media, smart brands are getting loyal customers to act as ambassadors to their friends by not just advertising on the sidebar, but engaging them on Facebook, whether that be getting them to “Like” the brand or by providing a more involved pitch from their brand’s page. 
With the degree of targeting that Facebook allows advertisers, there’s no excuse not to reach the audience in the exact way they want to be reached. Adweek recently ran a fascinating article revealing how people from different demographics behave differently towards brands on Facebook, which explains how advertisers can influence consumers to act based on their age or gender. The really interesting bit is where it states that over half of users ages ranging from 16 to 34 actually “enjoy checking out a brand on social media sites.”
Looking forward, advertisers are noticing a rising trend in gaming across platforms that presents its own unique opportunities to subtly or not-so-subtly put their brands in front of viewers, whether they be console gamers, smartphone users or even casual Farmville players. eMarketer predicts that by 2015, over 100 million Americans will be regular smartphone gamers. Now imagine video games in which ads or other forms of brand promotion are an integral part of the experience. There have already been some games that are trying this approach, most notably EA Sports’ FIFA and Madden series, but as the audience for in-game brand promotions increases, you can bet it will become more prevalent.