Mobile optimisation, the dominance of video, influencer crackdowns and first-party data collection all top the list of key changes to social media in 2019 according to GroupM managing partner and global head of social Kieley Taylor.
Speaking to AdNews, Taylor said this year had seen major changes to the social media landscape, following the revelations regarding Facebook's involvement in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which has left social media players adjusting to new rules and regulations.
While this has led to major international policies, including GDPR, Taylor adds that for agencies, the focus remains on finding the best possible social strategies for clients, with the impacts of this year only creating more opportunities.
"Ultimately there’s a greater consumer curiosity or wanting to understand how their data is being used and we’ve already gone through that growth, which now leaves us in a position to find the best means on engaging with them without violating trust," Taylor said.
"It’s been a painful exercise but I think we’ve come out with a deeper understanding of what really is useful data points and making sure clients have proclivity within their contracts and a deeper understanding of the true responsibilities that they have to use data wisely."
Taylor said the world of social media still has a lot to offer clients, despite a lot of businesses collecting their own first-party data, adding the auto and FMCG categories still have a place for it.
From an agency perspective, she said the impact hasn't been felt as strongly, with many clients still engaging with social media platforms. Agencies still remain focused on proving incremental sales growth, but there has been a renewed focus on better attribution models to ensure accurate and positive ROI.
"It’s becoming harder to tease apart all the different digital players and what their contribution is in the overall social media buying space," Taylor said.
"One of the things that we don’t have answers for because the walled garden’s walls keep getting higher, is the attribution across the major social players and that is something that we need to all invest in significantly if we are going to continue to offer this as a media for clients."
The strength of video and mobile
Taylor said one of the things GroupM is keenly aware of going into 2019 is making sure that when delivering ads in mobile they’re optimizsed for the mobile video user experience, as publishers and social players continue investing heavily in the content.
The competition will only evolve and get that much more aggressive between the key players, she adds, pointing to Australia as a key investment market due to the level of spend and excitement that comes with live and on-demand sport.
"Australian broadcasters have had deep pockets around sport due to the immense popularity it has, but expect to see things like Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook also getting in on that action and then similarly Amazon," Taylor said.
"Not in this next year, but certainly in the next 2-3 years, it could become a disruptor to the upfronts and the way in which we go about buying premium video content because it’s no longer going to be tethered exclusively to broadcasters."
Because of this, she said more investment needs to be made in optimising for mobile because advertisers need to fit seamlessly into the premium content these platforms are offering.
Taylor also believes this interest in premium video content could cause more fragmentation, with broadcasters seeing content bought by social players and then bundled in a similar fashion to streaming providers.
"It still depends on what demographic advertisers are ultimately trying to talk to. Those in that 34-53 age bracket tend to be able to still be engaged by advertisers through traditional broadcast channels," she said.
"However, more and more that millennials are beginning to see those core numbers or the skinny bundles, only buying certain channels that they know that they’re watching and we’ll have to be mindful, which we certainly of which way we’re best able to get attention for longer form video viewing."
Influencers: The Wild West
Despite the recent controversy surrounding the influencer marketing model, including the impact it is having on the younger demographics and its legitimacy, Taylor said it remains "one of the last elements of social media's Wild West".
One of the things she is closely looking at is the supply chain of influence.
"When we’re working with someone, we look at if they are truly being represented exclusively by a brokerage or are they exclusively represented by about ten different brokerages," she said.
"It's also important that we as agencies are making sure that we have client protections written into contracts. While these are more operational things they really bring some validity to the marketplace."
GroupM is also exploring partners that will look for flags including "huge jump in terms of followership", broken trends in terms of engagement rates and other "head scratchers" they are trying to remove the supply chain.
Taylor said brands also have roles to play in keeping the influencer industry honest.
"Wherever possible, we try to get beyond district delivery metrics to see success and that's something brands can also get onboard with," she said.
"If we can include a custom coupon link so we can directly correlate the influencer’s activity to the bottom line we will, and those are the types of measurement solutions that give us more confidence that it’s truly working.
"For those brands that are really looking to gain relevance with different demographics, or otherwise to increase favourability, these options are certainly going to build confidence with the relevant consumer."
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