Where Should D2Cs Market Next? Try the Open Web

As prices rise on Facebook and Instagram, D2C brands are starting to look elsewhere, from Pinterest to Snap to TV — and even to billboard and print. But the best bang for their buck may be in programmatic display.

Why D2Cs rely on social

D2Cs have relied on social sites largely because of what you might call the social quartet. That’s a combination of four key assets social has provided the efficiency-minded upstarts: clear ROI, digital data, millennial audiences and attention-grabbing formats. If you want to reach the right audience, understand whom you’re reaching, have confidence that you’ll grab that user’s attention, and get solid returns on the investment, social has been the place to be.

Your audience isn’t just on social

Or so it seems. Yes, social advertising may have strong ROIs, but soaring ad rates, driven in part by the wave of D2Cs themselves, make social marketing costs harder to justify and not as effective as they once were.

Yes, you’ll still find millennials and Gen Zers on Instagram, but it’s hardly the only place.  Research finds the under-25 set uses Instagram just over a half hour a day, for instance. Go over 25 years, and usage drops to just 24 minutes daily on average. There’s a lot of hours left for other media.

Think beyond the walled gardens for insights

What about social sites’ data dominance? Yes, the leading social sites, including Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram, inevitably know a lot about their users. Given their status as leading “walled gardens,” they also rarely part with much of that information. At the same time, there are still troves of socially born insights about which demographics to target, which creatives work, and more, beyond the social sites themselves.

Apply FB learnings to other media arenas

D2Cs (and other advertisers as well) can use Facebook as a learning ground to understand who their target customers are, and what messages they most want to hear. Then they should use those lessons to guide more targeted, better-informed campaigns across the open web — particularly making use of standards and KPIs that optimize for attention, not just views. Savvy advertisers get the engagement of a social campaign, at a fraction of the total cost — and thus a far higher ROI.

To be clear: I’m not predicting that D2Cs will ever break free of in-network social advertising completely. Nor am I suggesting that they should. Instead, I’m arguing that as the costs of social marketing skyrocket, D2Cs should continue to evolve their digital approach for the maximum ROI and customer intelligence.


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