You may have encountered the term ‘social listening’ a number of times in your career to date. The practice of monitoring online conversations about brands, products or industries has generally been met with ambiguity – to the point where Dr Jillian Ney has called for the creation of a global steering group for social data handling. Whilst the benefits of social insights have been presented in a number of studies, the application of social findings to the wider digital marketing strategy is often met with confusion.

So, how can we determine the value of social insights? And how can we apply them effectively to a digital marketing strategy?

A new approach

Social marketers have traditionally used tools to assess what you say on social media as a valid representation of who you are as a person. The methodology applied by many platforms identify and analyse signals relating to consumer sentiment and relevant keywords to build a picture of a specific consumer target audience. These nuanced data points are used to adjust social strategies by informing how to make creative more engaging or update demographic targeting in line with new findings. But so far, it has not been clear how these insights can be used outside of the social silo to buy digital media across other channels, such as desktop and mobile publishers.

To bridge the gap between user-generated content and display media, Fifty.io, a social data analysis provider, created an alternative solution based on the logic of ‘what you follow is who you are.’ As a result, brands can go beyond a typical social listening strategy, which only captures 5-10% of an audience. Through their unique algorithm capable of large-scale analysis of social data, advertisers are able to reach and understand a product or industry’s untapped social audience.

Once this data has been accumulated and organised into ‘tribes’ – in other words, categorised into segments via their common passion point – marketers are able to understand more than the interests of the group. The understanding of tribes shows marketers where their audience consumes news, media and content online in real-time, ultimately allowing advertisers to prospect their consumer groups far more effectively.

From analysis to activation

Following our work with Fifty, insights gained from social tribes are now directly applicable to target programmatically for the first time, making their tribes and custom segments available for marketers to plan and buy against. This arrival of the solution in the market aims to ultimately bridge the gap between social data insights and programmatic display to make social data available to target and measure against with ease.

This is demonstrated by our work in London’s vibrant musical and theatre scene, which is always buzzing with new productions competing for the attention of theatre-goers and tourists. In the performance industry, ticket sales are the lifeblood of each production and success is measured not only by glowing reviews, but sell-out nights and a consistently full house.

Working across several hundred West End shows in London this year, Fifty approached the planning process by analysing the unique interest groups for each individual play; the theatre itself, the stars, writer and producer of each show. This starting point enables bespoke targeting to be built for each show and seamlessly targeted in Avocet, outperforming other programmatic offerings in the market. Fifty and Avocet have targeted just over £800,000 in advertising budget and sold close to £6.5 million worth of tickets, generating significant returns for clients.

Marketers are actively looking for ways to move away from an archaic reliance on cookie data and connect disparate channels together. The availability of qualified social programmatic segments creates new opportunities for marketers to unify activity and measure the holistic impact of their campaigns. The analysis of social followership is a cutting-edge approach, enabling influencer and ambassador insights to be factored into media plans, whilst aiming to increase the effectiveness of media buys and reduce the risk surrounding product launches or new campaigns.

As marketers, the holy grail is to make valuable audience insights actionable for media planning and buying – and this is where programmatic can now demonstrate a clear return on investment.

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