Social Media in Advertising How Social Media has had an impact on the Advertising Industry

Social Media Advertising

Technology and social media have created new platforms and tools for advertisers to promote products to consumers. Social media has not only widened the audience that advertisers can reach but it has also changed the way they interact with their customers. Interactive campaigns that are facilitated on social media inspire both creativity and brand loyalty. Customers feel like they are contributing or they get involved in the brands story and become invested in that product. Customers are now also able to communicate with companies with greater ease. Through social media they can express opinions on current advertising, make suggestions for what they think could improve the product and ask for help if needed. Malthouse et al. maintain that customers no longer have a passive role in the relationship between themselves and a company, which results in the company need to be more careful and controlled about the message they are advertising.

The shifting relationship between the consumers and companies means advertisers now should market with customers not at them. The ease at which consumers can now converse and give feedback to other consumers has created a need for participatory marketing. Dorito’s “crash the super bowl” is an example of how using participatory marketing can further engage customers and utilize crowd sourcing. In 2006 Frito-Lays asked it Dorito consumers to create their own Dorito and to upload it to their website. The most popular voted ads were then aired during the super bowl and finalists were given twenty-five thousand dollars. In the article 5 Lessons In Participatory Marketing From Doritos’ “Crash The Super Bowl” And CMO Ann Mukherjee Chief market officer Ann Mukherjee emphasises that not only did their sales increase but she has “ 25,000 ads in the can…and they’re free!”. This participatory campaign was so successful that the competition still runs every super bowl. Below is the 2017 Dorito ad finalist.

The “crash the super bowl” campaign then keeps consumers engaged and participating by turning the finalists into brand ambassadors. They appear in Dorito promotions all year and are involved in the design of some promotion products. To bring the campaign to full circle some finalists are asked to coach and help next year’s contestants.

Targeted Advertising

The introduction of social media to advertising created the opportunity for advertisers to collect and study more information about their consumers. Which made way for a marketing technique called Targeted advertising. There are two types of targeted advertising, contextual advertising and behavioural advertising. Contextual advertising is advertising that responds to key words that are used in search engines or what is currently being viewed on the page. Behaviour advertising depicts information that is collected over time such as website browsing history and search engine history. (Malheiros et al) Using this type of advertising increased the rate consumers clicked on adds by 670% and was twice as effective as traditional advertising. (Malheiros et al.) This was most likely because these ads were more relevant to the consumers and their interests.

Targeted advertising in some cases has increased the likely hood of a consumer buying a product but it has also raised concerns about privacy. A case study done by the University College London revealed that participants were more likely to click on or pay attention to an ad that had a photo or their name incorporated but experienced discomfort at the high level of the personalisation. Users felt that they were being “spied upon” or that target advertising was an invasion of their privacy. (Malheiros et al.) In comparison to traditional advertising, companies can collect a more substantial amount of data from their users/consumers. Service providers like Google store individuals previous search history in such a way that they are the able to identify the individuals IP Address This allows the advertising industry to track cookies in the computers of their consumers and track their activity. (Evans, 55) Targeted advertising does provide the user with more relevant and valuable advertisements to consumers but it also has a privacy cost that consumers should consider.

Viral Campaigns

The internet and social media has significantly increased companies and advertises ability to reach their intended audiences. Ad campaigns that would previously only been seen on TV and had the limitations of only been seen by people who watch the particular show or channel that a certain individual is watching can now be shared around the world. They can be seen at any time by anyone and are shared across multiple platforms. YouTube has made the distribution of these campaigns simple and easy and advertisers encourage spreadability by the use of share buttons that link to social media sites. Distribution is then centralised on open networks and allows the content of the video to encourage spreadability. (Erickson2015)

The trouble advertisers can run into with viral video content, especially when related to entertainment is copy right laws. In 2012 Warner Brothers sent letters to websites like IMBD and Apple for removal of promotional videos of its own film. This can put advertisers in a situation where the success of their viral video can conflict with the desires of the company they are working for.(Erickson,2015)

When advertising practitioners use videos this way they are giving up control of how the video is being distributed. When a video has done well, this method can produce millions of dollars of free advertising for the company but viral does not always equal successful. An example of an advertisement that has had a negative effect is the recent Pepsi ad shown below.

This ad had an instant backlash, with consumers considering it racist and insensitive. Twitter exploded with tweets like this.

Twitter's reaction to the new Pepsi ad

Pepsi pulled the ad with in twenty-four hours of its release but it can still be accessed on YouTube, #PepsiAdvert trended on twitter, news organisations reported on it and late night talk shows used it for satire. Companies need to be cautious and aware that a viral video or content can make you millions but it can also damage the brands image.


Erickson, Kris, Copyright and Viral Advertising in Participatory Culture (January 3, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

Evans, David S. 2009. "The Online Advertising Industry: Economics, Evolution, and Privacy." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 23(3): 37-60.

Malheiros, Miguel et al. 2012. "Too Close For Comfort". Proceedings of the 2012 ACM annual conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - CHI '12 : n. pag. Web. 9 Apr. 2017

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