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Why Transparency Is So Important To The Future Of Social Advertising

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Unified’s Rick Martira took the stage at #SMWNYC and explained why a lack of transparency is arguably the biggest reason why companies are throwing more money than ever at the most difficult to comprehend advertising channel.

Spending on social advertising is soaring. According to research provided by Unified, it’s projected to exceed $50 billion in 2018. And 1 in 3 display dollars goes to Facebook alone.

And yet, brands rank social as the most difficult advertising channel. How can we reconcile the fact that companies are spending so much in a space they barely understand?

Unified‘s VP of Marketing, Rick Martira, argues a lack of transparency is clouding organizational judgment and preventing them from answering basic questions about their social spending.

Martira spoke at Social Media Week New York and explained why transparency is the missing piece to the social spending puzzle.

What is transparency in social advertising?

In this context, transparency is having complete visibility into your performance and the performance of your supply chain partners. You should know what was spent, who spent it, and how it performs.

But when the average social campaign has six companies involved, and the average company uses between four and ten different buying tools or solutions, is there any way that everyone has access to the information they need? There’s a lack of interoperability between organizations and tools that hinders our ability to see clearly.

Thus, “The channel that needs to be the most agile [social] is the least,” said Martira.

A growing gap between control and uncertainty

Marketers are always balancing between control and uncertainty, but Martira says that gap is growing wider due to social’s “velocity by complexity.”

There are a growing number of channels, each with their own unique walled gardens. Those channels use IDs, not cookies, so their rich data isn’t compatible with your previous ad tech stack. There are constant API changes. There’s a lack of experience here (“You won’t find anyone with two decades of experience running social ads,” says Martira).

These factors, plus a massive data exhaust due to an influx of data with no cohesive view of it all, make it nearly impossible for marketers to have total oversight and control over their data.

Change your brand mindset in three ways

Martira says changing your brand’s mindset in these three key ways can help increase transparency, and thus visibility, into how your company is spending money on social.

  • Advertising budgets are investments: If you think of your money as an investment, you’ll be more likely to track how it does for you, rather than allotting it to a third-party and forgetting about it.
  • Don’t ask for access to your data, be the access granter: You shouldn’t be handing over your data to a third party and then having to ask to see how it’s doing. You should have access to your numbers and analysis at all times.
  • Don’t let the people running your ads be the only ones who can report on their performance: You should be able to hold people accountable and understand where your campaigns are succeeding (or faltering) and why.

How to handle your data

In order to move towards transparency, you need to have ownership of your data. According to Martira, “38 percent of brands now add data ownership clauses to agency contracts. They want control over what is happening. “

The next step is to enrich your data to make it usable. “Give it context, give it purpose,” said Martira, saying that the context of your business is crucial to understanding what it’s telling you.

Finally, you’ll be able to finish with the intelligence to make better decisions. You’ll see where third-parties are overcharging you, or underperforming, and have the ability to make changes as necessary.

Martira’s overarching theme was that we tend to not think of our business data the same way we do our personal data. For one, basic questions about our personal finances, such as “How much did I spend at the grocery store this week?” are easy to answer; less so for business finances, where questions like ” Which creative concept is driving the most conversations?” often go unanswered.

But we also tend to ask for second opinions when we see or feel something is wrong in our personal lives. We talk to a friend or go see another doctor. Why wouldn’t we do the same with our business questions? Get that validation for your business by becoming more transparent.

Unified delivers software & services to connect marketing data sets and optimize investments. Find out more about our marketing platform and services here.

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