It’s Time for Brands to Capitalize on News Consumption Trends

As more and more consumers get their news online, and specifically from social media, brands must learn to react in real-time.

TV news? That’s a thing of the past. Consumers are going online for current and trending events, and increasingly their first stop is social media. Pew Research Center reports that 30 percent of consumers now get their news from Facebook. If you consider total audience reach along with social network news consumption, 10 percent of the adult population gets its news from YouTube, with 8 percent sourcing it from Twitter.

Social media deals in a currency of current information, but user demand is shifting from updates about family and friends to national and world news. It’s a natural progression. Already consumers younger than 45 the world over get more news online than they do in print, and 37 percent access news on their mobile phones at least once weekly.
This is creating new opportunities for brands to align their content with the news trends consumers seek. Recently, trend-based ad solutions company Taykey released an interesting report on how Q3 2014 campaigns performed in the context of popular events. The Real-Time Trend Report revealed campaigns that ran alongside news and pop culture announcements – such as the launch of LG’s smartwatch or a tweet from Star Wars: Episode VII’s production company that spoke to the role of the Millennium Falcon in the film – saw an increase in audience engagement of more than 500 percent.
“Targeting against generalized demographics often means missed opportunities for brands,” said Adam Kapel, senior vice president of marketing and insights with Taykey. “They’re not always obvious or predictable, but real-time, trend-based insights can bring out (other trends and micro-conversations) so brands ensure they’re reaching the right audience, at the right time, to elicit a significant impact.” “With advertising, the main challenge faced by brands is accurately associating themselves with what is hot for their target audience at a specific time,” adds Amit Avner, Taykey’s founder and chief executive (CEO). In other words, brands that are prepared to jump on trends can reap big rewards.

This data speaks to the significance of adaptive marketing, in which marketers use interest trends to inform media buys and optimize ad messaging to piggyback on news topics and events. The story of how Oreo won the 2013 Super Bowl ad battle with its spontaneous, perfectly timed blackout tweet is now legend (it’s been named one of the “coolest tweets” of all time). One of the advantages of marketing through social media is that it allows brands to be responsive and react to trends on the fly. But is it enough to stay current on Facebook and Twitter when a simultaneous display campaign might fail to read as relevant?
Slowly, brands are coming around to real-time and trend-based targeting across the board. An eMarketer report called, Real-Time Marketing About More Than Social, cited one study in which just 14 percent of marketers see real-time as “important for the future.” A second survey, however, revealed that while social media is still the leading channel used for marketing in real time (48 percent), sites are gaining with a usage rate of 45 percent and email isn’t far behind at 39. More than a third of these respondents considered real-time marketing to be “extremely important” in 2014.
So how does one make the most of current events and news trends? Audience knowledge is power. For example, although celebrity-related news is random and intermittent, Taykey says engagement is highest surrounding the charitable endeavors of entertainers. Instead of focusing on celebrity gossip, brands should link their ads to news about celebrity business ventures and benevolent activities. In addition, according to Taykey’s Q3 research, Health & Wellness was the only industry vertical for which business and political news trends generated the most engagement among consumers.
Another requirement for adaptive campaigns is research. Many a brand has reacted to a trending hashtag by posting a promotional tweet without first researching its origins, or failing to understand the subject in the first place. During this summer’s World Cup Delta learned the hard way that there are no giraffes in Ghana.

As consumers continue to rely on digital media for their news, it behooves brands to embrace a real-time marketing strategy. Content is in a constant state of flux, but that doesn’t mean ads can’t adapt.