You want to know what I love? When companies announce new video-related products or services. Seriously… I'm a video nut, and I get excited about new things. Want to know what I hate? When new products or services are announced, but not remotely explained. Such is the case today.
TwitVid has announced a new ad platform, called SocialAds, which aims to help brands get more social media followers and friends. The ads are similar to Google's Adwords program, in that advertisers only pay for user actions and not raw impressions. Advertisers set up campaign specs, and can even place ads on videos from famous celebrities or target them to specific demographics. Under their price-per-action model, SocialAds is all about getting you more followers and retweets, and bidding begins at $1-per-follower and $0.75-per-retweet.
The news of this new ad platform is all over the place this morning… InformationWeek, WebProNews, MediaPost, TheNextWeb. And all of these sources mention how SocialAds intends to help brands advertise in a way that also brings more social followers to them. All of the sources mention SocialAds' incredible conversion numbers from their beta—according to SocialAds themselves, an unspecified number of anonymous beta testing companies received 400 new followers in less than an hour. Of course, since the number of advertisers experiencing that benefit is a mystery, as is their brand name, then that number actually means nothing to me. Oh well.
All of these news sources also point out that the system has a deep analytics portion that will allow advertisers to track campaigns' effectiveness. But do you know what none of them does? None of them shows me what SocialAds advertisements actually look like. They all mention that the ads will be different from traditional preroll ads… but then they stop right there and don't explain how they'll be different. It feels like most of these sites just churned out the raw information contained in a press release they got from SocialAds.
So I went to SocialAds website, because surely they would explain what makes their ads unique, right? You might even assume they would have a video showing what the ads look like. But that assumption would be wrong. Oh, there's a video alright. But it's maddeningly vague on the details. They do get points for showing the back-end, with a few screenshots of the advertisers' dashboard where the campaigns are managed. But there's not one single image or video that actually shows the ad in action. Why is that? There's no About page or FAQ page. There's just a video… and then sign up and login options. You can watch that video if you want to see what I'm talking about:
If I want to buy a billboard or a magazine advertisement… I already know what those look like. I don't need to see an example first (though I will most certainly want to see a proof of my ad before it goes live). But when an ad platform touts itself as something original and completely new… it just seems like a misstep to not show examples of what the ad looks like.
I don't know about you, but I'm not as inclined to just trust SocialAds beta testing numbers and leap in with both feet. How do I know the ads aren't obnoxious overlay ads or useless banner/display ads on the video's hosting page? How do I know what they look like? It's kind of infuriating. I'm also not sure that new Twitter followers are really worth a dollar.
That being said, I'm still intrigued. I guess I'm intrigued by almost any new video advertisement, and when you add in the social aspect it only gets more interesting. But I can't exactly recommend the ad platform if I can't get a look at it. And I'm definitely not putting my advertising dollars into it without some kind of demo. At least give me a screenshot. It's like their pitch is this: "new ad format, twitter-related, video-related… give us money.”
But I'm apparently the only person that feels this way, as everyone else is touting the launch of SocialAds as something exciting and buzz-worthy. It's getting tons of press and will probably get lots of initial users. The promise of the ability to leverage the fame of users like Jimmy Fallon or Shaq is too enticing, I'd guess. Assuming the ads look nice and aren't too large or too distracting, it's probably worth checking out. But that's a pretty big assumption, and one that SocialAds could easily prevent me from having to make.
Everyone wants to harness the power and popularity of social media for business purposes. And there are a lot of different ways to try and do that. I'm all for companies being inventive. I'm all for new video ad platforms and networks. I'm just also for a little more detail. I'm for seeing what you buy before you buy it. Anyone who has taken the plunge and paid for these things—or participated in the beta—should feel encouraged to let us know what your experience was like in the comments below. It might help some of us buy in if we can get a first-hand account.