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Beth MondaVice President, EcommerceTeleflora
On social networks, consumers are browsing rather than searching with specific goals in mind, so need-based purchases are less frequent. That’s why Teleflora, an online florist marketplace with a business model driven by an urgent need to send a gift, relies more heavily on search advertising. Still, that doesn’t mean the brand is quick to discount the value of social advertising. Beth Monda, vice president of ecommerce at Teleflora, spoke with eMarketer’s Debra Aho Williamson about how attribution needs to improve before the company makes a greater commitment to social advertising.
eMarketer: Why is paid search advertising so important in your industry?
Beth Monda: A lot of people still use search as a phone book, and in our industry, consumers are almost always looking to purchase a gift for someone who is not nearby. For example, someone is sitting in L.A. and wants to buy flowers for someone in Atlanta. The consumer needs to send a gift to someone outside of their home market, so naturally they ask Google how to do that.
eMarketer: How do your paid social advertising goals differ from what you’re trying to achieve through search advertising?
Monda: We use social advertising for retargeting. A gift is almost always need-based. There’s an anniversary tomorrow, or a birthday. It’s not often an impulse purchase, which is social advertising’s strength. For our business, social advertising can play a part when consumers bounce around between different floral providers, trying to find bouquets that they like. While they shop around, we actively retarget them so we are staying in front of them while they’re still in that consideration mindset.
eMarketer: Has the effectiveness of social advertising improved?
Monda: We’ve seen more success, but we haven’t knocked it out of the park just yet. There are some nuances of the business that make paid search important for us. Paid social is just not as predictable.
eMarketer: What about attribution on social media? Has that improved?
Monda: Yes and no. We do have an attribution reporting tool that tracks clicks and visits, following the consumer. But the problem with social is that a lot of interactions take place on mobile, and there is a big gap in consumer tracking across devices. It’s a tough question because saying yes means accepting not very good results, and saying no means acknowledging that we still lose sight of people across devices. It’s a work in progress.
eMarketer: Is there anything that social advertising could deliver that would make you carve money away from paid search?
Monda: One thing social players could do is help us fill in that gap around attribution. Our business is based on a CPO [cost per order] target, meaning we put money behind efforts that help us gain customers and drive orders at a cost that’s effective for us. If we can understand exactly who a consumer is and how they’re jumping between devices, we could see a lot of growth for social. For right now, however, it’s hard to understand the ultimate impact of social initiatives.
eMarketer: Would paid search advertising appeal to you if it were available on Facebook?
Monda: Yes, it could be tremendously interesting. I envision a scenario where somebody shares an image of beautiful flowers on Facebook, and somebody else that’s searching for flowers sees that Susie received these great flowers from Teleflora. That could be a nice marriage between social and search when that starts happening.
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