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Brand Challenges & Opportunities With Social Media & Mobile

Headaches for brands—and the people who manage them—are increasingly common when it comes to search results. More are on the way thanks to social media and the proliferation of smart phones. You should be aware of the impact on your brand because both social media and the use of smart phones to express opinions are growing quickly. Before we jump in, check out a few stats:

According to comScore’s MobiLens data from August 2010:

  • 234 million Americans age 13+ use mobile phones
  • 34% use mobile web browsers (some math: roughly 79 million people)
  • 22% access social media through their phone (more math: 51 million people)

The top mobile social media sites in the USA:

  • Facebook
  • MySpace
  • YouTube
  • Twitter

So let’s speculate about what’s going on so you know exactly how you or your competitors could manipulate ads on social media and mobile to take advantage of brand advertising.

Facebook. Facebook sells ads on a CPC basis. When you purchase ads, you pick who you want to target by selecting their “likes.” Using this option, you are able to list the Facebook groups that you want to target. These groups could be your competitors’ groups. You could even tailor your ad to call out the competitor by name (“Hey [competitor] fans!”) to draw attention to your ad.

There is tremendous opportunity to target in a very specific way. There is also an opportunity for brand posers to take advantage of your hard work in building your channel, so be aware of the ads that may be targeting your users when these users are visiting your Facebook group.

YouTube. I wrote about YouTube advertising channels in my article Search, Video & Your Brand: Hello YouTube! over a year ago. At that time, advertisers could purchase self-service CPC-based ads called “promoted videos.” Since then, YouTube has added several other ad units including “brand channels” that enable advertisers to build a channel area filled with videos only related to them. Channels appear to get top billing in the organic results on YouTube. However, we are still seeing many instances where promoted videos of non-brand related items or other brands appear on searches. Nor do we see big brands taking advantage of ad opportunities on more generic searches for products that represent them. For example, we ran a search on the term “snowboards” but not a single ski or snowboarding product manufacturer appeared in the sponsored listings or the organic results. There is opportunity here that seems to be wide open for the taking.

Twitter. You can advertise on Twitter or be a recipient of advertisements on Twitter without realizing it. There are companies that pay for tweets to promote their products and brands, usually on a CPA or CPC model. The messaging in these tweets is not well controlled. It’s actually quite easy to disparage a brand in tweets in order to promote another—making some easy cash in the process. If you run a quick search on the keyword “twitter ads” you will find several enterprising companies who are capitalizing on the concept of paying for tweets.

Google mobile. This is our new favorite for brand compliance activities. Folks that want to exploit your brand or your affiliate program have gone largely undetected on mobile. We recently released a compliance monitoring report for Google mobile, and found compelling evidence that brand exploitation has found a new home on mobile. We have just begun to study these results but early indications suggest a rise in affiliates detected on Google mobile as well as competition that many times doesn’t exist on regular search results.

Keeping track of the ads running across all of the various channels can be challenging. Here are a few easy things that you should do.

Mobile. Search for your top terms on your own mobile phone. Decide if you need to be there. Is your competition there? Are your affiliates brand bidding there? Be sure to target your search campaigns for mobile users.

Facebook. It’s tricky to see the ads that another user might see because targeting can be so specific to “likes.” The best thing you can do is to make sure your own ads are running so that even if a competitor does manage to show up when a user is looking for you or reading about you, your ad will be present also.

Twitter. There are many monitoring tools, some free or very low cost, that allow you to read tweets that mention your brand. You should subscribe to a tool and follow-up on tweets from folks with enough followers to have some influence.

YouTube. Begin by running searches on your brand name or generic words that generate traffic for you on other search media. Observe which videos appear, and then purchase ads to ensure that your ads appear as well.

We are keeping an eye on the social and mobile ad opportunities. As more channels appear, there are more ways for your brand to be advertised as well as exploited. More for you to manage, but also more channels for you to use to evangelize your message.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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