DIMENSION: How are consumers discussing advertising on social media?

In today’s connected world, consumers are discussing anything and everything on their personal social media accounts. Whether it be a life event, a political view or something as simple as a picture of food, social platforms are the place to be heard – and heard again.

An analysis from Kantar Media’s DIMENSION report shows the benefits this ‘earned media’ can have for brands. DIMENSION is an in-depth analysis of advertising trends based on both consumer research and interviews with industry leaders. As part of the study, Kantar media also analyzed conversations around the broad topic of ‘advertising’ on social media channels and platforms in the U.S., UK, France and Brazil over the period of September – November 2016.

In total, over 4 million conversations were assessed (of which by far the majority were in the U.S.). Obvious brand-generated content, bots, giveaways, recruitment ads and spam were all excluded.

The analysis pointed to most ‘advertising conversations’ being concerned with the content of brand campaigns, though due to the timing of the study, there was some considerable conversation in the U.S. around political campaigns. Additionally in the U.S., 25% of online discussions around advertising were driven by TV campaigns.

Trends were similar in the UK, with Christmas TV campaigns such as the annual ad from retailer John Lewis playing a particularly prominent role in social conversations. Notably, digital campaigns proved to be far less engaging than these high-impact TV ads.

All publicity is good publicity – or is it?

It’s not surprising that when brands make a splash with a new campaign, consumers are quick to take to social media to discuss and share their opinions – whether they are positive or not.

One need only look to the recent social media backlash against PepsiCo to see how engaged (and enraged) consumers can become because of the content of an ad. In early April, a firestorm erupted around a Pepsi TV commercial in which Kendall Jenner walks through a crowd at a protest and hands a can of Pepsi to a police officer. Social media lit up with criticism that the ad trivialized the Black Lives Matter movement and protest movements in general. Many felt the smiling, “sanitized” protesters – and their equally sanitized protest signs – betrayed the seriousness of the current social and political issues that inspire protest.

Kantar Media tracked social media coverage of PepsiCo and found discussion of the company increased by a factor of more than 65 in the week the ad was released, compared to the average for the previous eight weeks, with commentary remaining over four times normal for the next three weeks. The ensuing conversation also called out the perceived lack of diversity (and lack of cultural sensitivity) within PepsiCo that would create such an ad.

Social media has become an ever present staple of our everyday lives. We observed in DIMENSION that brands can greatly benefit from the earned media these platforms provide. However when a brand misses the mark, there is no question that social conversations will ignite with a fury.

DIMENSION is a landmark new study from Kantar Media exploring many of the key communication planning, buying and measurement issues and themes from the twin perspectives of those leading the media industry and the consumers they are trying to reach.

Learn more about DIMENSION here



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