I wrote an article last week entitled TwitVid Launches Mysterious New Social Video Ad Platform. You may have read it. And I chose that title because I was frustrated by the lack of details that were publicly available regarding the launch of the new ad network. There were no screenshots. There were no detailed explanations on how the ads and bids and analytics would all work. Instead, mostly we were just getting a media announcement about a new Twitter-based ad platform from TwitVid… and that was it.
Which was a bit maddening, because I was actually quite intrigued by the idea of SocialAds. I wanted to like it a lot. But I couldn't, because I was lacking some key information.
Would it surprise you to learn that TwitVid was paying attention, read my article, and quickly jumped in with an offer of an interview to help fill in the gaps for me? I was. Mostly because I figured there were marketing bloggers more prominent than myself who were writing about SocialAds. Nevertheless, on Friday of last week I had the good fortune of sitting down to a phone call with TwitVid Co-founder Mo Al Adham, and I wanted to share some of what he and I talked about.
The first thing Al Adham told me was that the company appreciated my critical feedback, and was already taking steps to enhance the presentation of Social Ads. They had already added screenshots to the site, so prospective advertisers could see what the ads might look like in action—they also included screenshots of the ad creation screen, the reporting data, and more.
Mo also said they are reworking the introductory video on the SocialAds home page, which I had specifically criticized for not having any footage of the actual ads in action. It's not every day that a Co-founder of a company the likes of TwitVid reads my articles… let alone asks me for a personal chat. To learn that he had changed his company's marketing material due, in part, to critical comments like mine, was a surprise indeed.
And really, that's not even fair to Mr. Al Adham. He's not changing the features for me, or for any other marketing writer. He's changing them for his customers… because he realized that they would want the same kind of detail that I was asking for.
Al Adham cares a lot about his company's reputation, which is why he called me from Jordan—twice, actually, because his first connection was filled with static and he wanted me to be able to hear him clearly. You could say that I was impressed, and you could then also say that I was probably supposed to be impressed. Fair enough. But if my criticism of SocialAds the first time out held any water for you, then hopefully this follow-up will as well.
To start with, we now have screenshots of what SocialAds looks like. These were sent to me via email, but are now widely available on the SocialAds website. We'll start with a look at the actual ad itself:
Users who have clicked through in order to watch a TwitVid video will see the above, prompting them to either follow the advertiser or re-tweet them in order to gain access to the destination video. And yes, there is an option to skip this step and go straight to the video. That's important, because otherwise they'd be locking the video content behind the ad wall, which users would detest. Heck, some users may still detest having to click to skip straight to the video, but that should be a relatively small percentage.
This is kind of like the TwitVid version of a pre-roll ad, only with a direct conversion behavior. I talked with Al Adham about what kind of added value he believes a follow or retweet has over standard Adwords-type advertising conversions. He feels strongly that this ad platform will deliver a much more engaged customer.
I had questions about the ad pricing, specifically how the company had arrived at their ultimate prices of $1.00 for a follower and $0.75 for a retweet. Al Adham said they'd followed a lot of online research, particularly this report from Syncapse and Hotspex, which strongly suggested that consumers following a brand's social media presence are more likely to make more purchases. He believes the price is comparable to the average bid-per-click on Google's Adwords, but in this case the advertiser gets more for their money.
Al Adham says:
"Social ads is a video advertising network that basically helps get twitter followers and retweets for advertisers. It's a different kind of advertiser, and different kind of end users. You're not buying clicks… you're buying more social followers or retweets.”
Here's a look at the campaign creation screen:
Advertisers can target their ads to users that follow certain brands on Twitter—geotargeting will be added soon as well. And there's a blacklist feature as well, where brands can specify what kinds of Twitter users will not be shown their ad.
The reporting end of SocialAds looks promising, as you can see in the screenshot below:
The reports contain a nice variety of data, including what kinds of content brought followers, cost breakdown, conversions, and even the average cost of retweets and follows.
When I asked about some of the beta testing companies, trying to get at something more concrete than the vague numbers thrown out in the original announcement, I was told that the brands involved in their beta testing had specifically requested anonymity. Which makes sense and is actually quite common. But it would still be nice to have some concrete numbers, even anonymously, as we're still left with "some of the testing brands saw 400 new followers in less than an hour.” How many brands saw that kind of uptick? Just one? Or 80% of the brands involved in testing? There's no way to know.
However, I was told a great anecdote about one major brand (which I was asked not to repeat) that ended up on the Twitter Trending Topics list as a direct result of a beta SocialAds campaign. I'm hopeful stories like these can eventually be told openly in the near future, including the brand names, because they could help sway the advertiser who is still on the fence. Nothing sells a concept like proof of that concept.
Regardless, there has been a huge amount of interest in SocialAds from both small businesses and major brands since the announcement, according to Al Adham. And he says that ads will begin running live on TwitVid videos this week. And there are already plans afoot to expand the service to other social networks, such as Facebook.
I'm quite thankful to have had the opportunity to speak with the TwitVid Co-founder personally. That they reached out to me to make that suggestion says a lot about the company's awareness and dedication to reputation management. That they listened to feedback, both from myself as well as others, and almost immediately began implementing changes they think will help explain and sell their product is a good indicator of the company's adaptability.
Having gotten a look at how SocialAds will work, and a personal interview with one of the founders, I can honestly say that most of my skepticism has dissipated. As you may recall, even in the original article I wanted to be excited about SocialAds. But I felt I had to hold back that excitement until I got a look at how it all worked. I just didn't expect that look to come from the company themselves.
Will SocialAds catch on? Quite possibly. There's certainly no one else doing this same kind of thing in the world of online video advertising. And advertisers have a great desire to connect with their customers via social networks… to further invest that consumer in the brand. The real test of their longevity will lie in how much value brands can find in new Twitter followers gained through the SocialAds system.