Unless you’ve been off the grid, it will have been hard to escape the repercussions of Facebook’s outage last week.
Facebook’s platforms may have only been down for six hours, but in that time, thousands of businesses saw traffic and engagement levels drop substantially – causing a significant fall in sales that directly correlated to a disruption in their social media channels. In fact, the financial hit is estimated to have been around $79 million in ad revenue losses, with many businesses unable to reach their clients and potential customers.
While painful, this serves as a powerful reminder of one of the biggest challenges the digital advertising industry faces: breaking its reliance on a few large players to support ad spend.
While this has been a conversation in the industry for some time, it has started to become an even more pressing issue for businesses who are entirely reliant on Facebook. Whether or not an outage happens again, it underscores the urgent need for brands to re-evaluate their over-reliance on Facebook and Google and start testing more budget on the many viable alternatives out there.
Giants like Facebook and Google unquestionably provide advertisers with effective targeting and measurement. They’ll continue to play a crucial role in campaign success, even amidst the ongoing privacy and regulatory hurdles. But brands need to approach them with caution and be wary of becoming over-reliant on a small handful of prominent players.
As convenient as these platforms may be, if brands want to understand consumer behavior truly, they also need to know how to reach them beyond the confines of Facebook and Instagram. We can recognize the power of social media, but brands shouldn’t turn platforms into the only reasonable option out there.
So how can you open up your digital advertising horizons beyond these tech giants?
The digital advertising industry has been going through a period of huge change with the demise of third-party cookies. While that may have had a last-minute reprieve thanks to Google’s temporary change of heart, there are several other options available to brands that allow them greater autonomy and spread in their digital marketing activities, while still delivering the scale and measurement capabilities they have become used to.
Consented first-party data is one way advertisers can reach audiences, as brands and publishers have direct relationships with their customers and readers, respectively. Central to this is focusing on the value exchange. By giving consumers something they want, brands can encourage them to exchange their data for benefits such as exclusive content, special offers or rewards.
The industry is also developing alternatives to help advertisers talk to their audiences, many of which reduce the reliance on third-party data, but still provide powerful targeting. Location targeting, for instance, has come a long way since first being introduced, and it now offers brands powerful ways to find and target their audiences at scale.
Innovative brands are finding ways to go directly to their audiences or reach them through privacy-first partners. This means moving – at least partially – out of the shadow of big tech.
Diane Perlman is chief marketing officer of Blis.