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Paid Social: A Shifting Landscape

12 Apr 2021 Trey Sells

in Social Media, Strategy, Data

Paid social media advertising is one of the most effective ways to gain quality traffic on any business or services website. The ability to drive awareness, create consideration, and ultimately convert a browsing user into a valued customer is what draws advertisers to these platforms. However, with new privacy updates from Apple, the paid social advertising landscape is shifting rapidly, with concerns around whether consumers will opt-in to being tracked. Paired with the upcoming demise of third-party cookies, sea changes are on the horizon and marketers want to understand how their paid social efforts will continue to bear fruit. In my work at Stella Rising, I navigate this evolving landscape daily and prioritize understanding every new development. Here I present the direction in which paid social advertising is headed, how to best utilize owned data, and what is available to continue driving scale on paid social platforms.


Paid social has evolved from a single dominant platform; today, we recommend a diversified portfolio of platforms for effectively scaling a brand. For example, if a company spends $5K on advertising per month and the main objective is to drive efficient ROAS, then investing in a heavy amount of upper-funnel tactics outside of holidays or sales is unlikely. However, if a brand that spends $500K monthly has a main objective of topline revenue growth, then the challenges of scale on Facebook and Instagram alone become more and more evident. Diversifying across platforms such as TikTok, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Twitter allows brands to find a greater depth of prospective customers that align with business goals.


Owned data is one of the best ways to effectively mimic past success when thinking about going to market with a paid social strategy. This consumer data is often captured and stored within a CRM system such as Klaviyo (my personal favorite), MailChimp, Active Campaign, and many more. Paid social advertising is going to be the most successful when given the tools or data to become so; the more you give the more you get when it comes to creating a robust paid social plan. Allowing Facebook’s API to learn more and more about your target customer is only going to increase efficiencies and drive more quality leads, purchases, add to carts, website visits, etc. Especially with iOS impacts to platforms like Facebook and Instagram, it is critical for businesses to invest in a quality CRM that allows for the proper segmentation of existing customer bases. This strategy is vital for getting more purchases, viewership, or engagement which will, in turn, create “brand loyalists” over time.


So, the end question is: “If all of these challenges exist, is paid social still the most effective way for my brand to drive quality traffic and ultimately revenue to my business or service?” The answer is YAASSS! Here at Stella Rising, we believe wholeheartedly that we are positioned to combat these challenges and meet them head on. How? Utilizing a combination of first and third-party customer data (providers such as GLEW, Custora, Liveramp) is one way to achieve effective paid social advertising on the go-forward. A certain amount of pixel intent signals will be lost; it is highly important to try and recreate high intent signals such as add to cart and initiated checkout through other means. Recreating high intent signals helps to effectively drive scale without the mystery of: “Is this even my target customer?” Recreating intent signals through the use of first or third-party data may take a certain level of data mapping, which Stella is well positioned for given our fully stacked analytics team. Advertisers will need to marry the full-funnel story with the shifts occurring in paid social: doing so will impact the full customer journey and address attribution in the new privacy-first environment.


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