Twitter, YouTube work on stealth advertising
The quandary for those who run social networks is how to monetize activity on them without antagonizing and thus losing users through distracting ads?
The answer, for Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, is to slip in some stealthy ads camouflaged to look like posts from listed contacts.
Each of the networks has in-house teams whose job is to think up ways to advise brands on how to sneak their marketing into members’ feeds.
At YouTube, owned by Google, the effort is called “Zoo.” Instagram uses the “Creative Shop” of its par- ent company Facebook. Twitter’s name for it is the relatively straightforward “Brand Strategy.”
The strategies adapt to the specific requirements, formats and behavior on each of the social networks.
Hiding in Plain Sight
In the case of Instagram, the 4-year-old site which boasts 300 million users worldwide who share filtered photos and videos, the advertising push has now extended to France.
The network long resisted introducing sponsored messages, aware that many of its fans were creative types — artists, photographers, ar- chitects — against having screens of pure images corrupted by tawdry commercial intrusions.
But after Facebook bought it for US$715 million in 2012, Instagram started putting in ads. They started in 2013 in the United States, then Australia and Canada in late 2014 and, from mid-March this year, in France.
They hide in plain sight: presented in the same square format, with the same “vintage” filter as usergenerated pictures. Only the mention “sponsored” reveals that it’s there to sell, not share.
The specialist teams are experienced, well-versed in advertising and marketing, often having been snapped up from ad agencies. Each count around 100 employees, scattered around the planet. The job requirement is to have a deep and nuanced knowledge of local markets and to stay abreast of the latest trends.
“There are no borders. It’s a global team that communicates from everywhere in the world, 24/7. If you want to know what’s happening with mobiles in Asia in such and such an area, we can get an answer in an hour,” said Mailine Swildens, director of YouTube’s Zoo for southern and eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.