November saw the launch of the retailer’s Christmas ads with John Lewis, Sainsbury’s, Lidl, M & S, Asda, PC World and Tesco vying to create the biggest and best brand campaigns. Much has been written about the re-emergence of TV to build brand equity and tell brand stories. There’s been plenty of articles too about what this means for brands and for branded content.
For some these ads showcase the death of brand content with brands moving towards quality, high production content. That seems too simplistic though especially as these ads are the preserve of the biggest businesses, those with the deep pockets needed to fund both the production of the ads and the media spend to get them in front of consumers.
One factor that seems to confuse is the role of social. There are some articles that question the benefits of social media. So what, if any, is the role of social media in these campaigns? We’ve looked at the offering’s from John Lewis, Sainsbury’s, Lidl, Curry’s PC World and M & S to see how they’ve been used socially and what this might tell us.
The table above shows the views of these ads on both YouTube and Facebook. Both John Lewis and Sainsbury’s have seen massive consumption of their ads on social media. So how are these getting such high views?
Driving this volume of Facebook views will be the result of paid media. Brand’s (and media agencies) know that their owned social channels are only part of the equation. You can put your ad in front of your Facebook and Twitter audiences and get some great engagement. However, if you want to get millions of people seeing your brand story then advertising has a role.
Both brands will have used a combination of promoted posts and video advertising to get 7+ million views each.
The days of a free lunch on Facebook are long gone as virality has been replaced by the need to pay to play. Our recent Halloween campaign for Hobgoblin saw 1.2 million views of various videos through social media ads. The role of paid social is only going to increase.
This shouldn’t be seen as a negative. A brand’s owned social channels only account for a fraction of their actual customers. Sainsbury’s Facebook page has more than 1,228,853 likes. Yet millions more shop every week at its stores. What we’re seeing is a recognition of the fact that social needs to be used more imaginatively as brand’s look to reach and engage with their customers.
This comes back to PR Week’s editorial. Success is about a mix: paid, earned, owned and shared media all have a role to play. And increasingly, marketeers need to tap into all of these as part of their social media marketing. Nor does it spell the death of a brand’s owned social channels. It does mean that brands need to be using these more cleverly, more strategically and more creatively.
The retailer Christmas ads show how a more expansive approach to social media can drive high consumption, great awareness and high levels of engagement. These ads also show that brands need to move away from a narrow focus on owned channels in order to maximise the outcomes.