Scramble For Real-Time Advertising Returns As Brands Insist On Quick Pivots

Brands have talked about reducing the time to build and publish creatives, which gives greater importance to real-time campaigns once again, but they are also backing off from Facebook because it lacks the safeguards to protect their reputation.

Marketers are avoiding media that requires a long process to create and complete, and want the ability to dynamically change the message.

Ken Harlan, founder and CEO of MobileFuse, believes this challenging time -- which began with COVID-19 and feelings of togetherness, and then transitioned to the BLM movement -- now leaves many marketers not knowing how or if they should take a point of view.

“Brands are starting to reduce or shut off their social spend in advertising,” Harlan said. “They’re starting to look at different messaging for specific geographies.”

Harlan said some brands may have a message such as free delivery to share in an urban area, or avoid the urban geography and focus on suburban areas. This message could fluctuate within a 10-mile radius.



Brands still struggle with how to connect with consumers. In an act of desperation, Berklee College of Music apologized for allowing Boston police to use their bathroom during a BLM protest, according to the Boston Globe.

The rhetoric transfers to a slide in advertising dollars on Facebook as brands pull back budgets on platforms where they cannot control what content serves up next to their ads.

Tinuiti recently published data showing that Facebook daily spend dropped nearly 60% in correlation with the activism efforts. It also shows the impact of daily spend seen in recent weeks as being three times as great as the impact from COVID-19 during a two-week period in March.

The drop-off on Facebook points to the inability to control the content in which brands and their ads appear. “Remember what happened to YouTube with brands being associated with [undesirable] content,” Harlan said, pointing to when Colin Kaepernick first took a knee.

The tools available in YouTube to rate videos are not in place for social and Facebook today, Harlan said. Brands are looking for a whitelist and blacklist to control where their ads appear.

“A lot of our clients want to avoid social and news,” he said. “They don’t want to take the chance of saying the wrong thing and would rather have their ads appear in utility apps and games.”

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