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Paid Ads Get the Real-Time Treatment

Social media sites, programmatic buying create opportunities for real-time paid media

Marketers are devoting more time and energy to monitoring real-time conversations in social media and then rapidly developing creative to take advantage of those discussions. However, according to a new eMarketer report—“Advertising in the Moment: Real-Time Strategies for Paid Social Media”—to be truly effective in real-time marketing also means moving more quickly with paid advertising.

Paid media plays a critical role in the success or failure of real-time marketing efforts. Just as a brand cannot post a video to YouTube and expect it to “go viral” without marketing support, real-time marketing is less successful if marketers can’t align their rapid-fire content-creation efforts with equally rapid-fire advertising.

The legacy structures of the media business and the traditional ways marketers allocate ad dollars far in advance, especially for TV, are two of the biggest roadblocks to supporting real-time marketing with paid advertising.

A study from Forrester Consulting and Marin Software, while not focused directly on real-time marketing, showed that very few marketers in December 2012 were trying to make changes in their advertising activities on a daily basis, which was the shortest timeframe that was asked about in this particular study.

Only 13% of respondents said they performed real-time recalculations of their advertising bids on a daily basis, while 11% practiced dayparting daily.

Although real-time marketing will affect a broad range of marketing activities, much of the current attention has been focused on real time within social environments. As a result, the social media properties and the vendors that work with social media advertisers are among the first to start offering capabilities to make advertising in real time easier.

Keyword Targeting in the Timeline, an extension of Twitter’s targeting capabilities for Promoted Tweets, gives advertisers the ability to select specific keyword triggers and then insert a Promoted Tweet in the timeline of a user who mentions that keyword.

Facebook has taken a slower approach toward offering ad products to boost real-time marketing, focusing instead on allowing advertisers to bring in third-party data to more finely target their audience. However, several ad technology companies have built services on top of Facebook’s ads API, with the goal of helping marketers spot opportunities to buy ads promoting the organic content they post on Facebook.

Over time, programmatic buying techniques may help marketers make faster media spending decisions to support real-time marketing. On the creative side, real-time marketing still requires extensive human involvement to write copy or design an image. But when rapid decisions must be made about when to promote an organic piece of content or which audience will respond best to a culturally relevant ad, humans can’t keep up, and algorithms must take over.


The full report, “Advertising in the Moment: Real-Time Strategies for Paid Social Media” also answers these key questions:

  • What is the role of paid advertising in real-time marketing efforts?
  • What can marketers and agencies do to overcome the organizational challenges associated with deploying advertising more rapidly?
  • How are social media companies and ad technology firms making it easier for marketers to buy ads “in the moment”?
  • Is there a role for programmatic buying technology to help improve these processes?

This report is available to eMarketer corporate subscription clients only. eMarketer clients, log in and view the report now.


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