Social media advertising may feel like the Wild West, but taking an experimental approach is one way to navigate the lack of law and order.

Native, video and social are the fasting growing advertising formats in the UK.

According to the Internet Advertising Bureau video ad spend grew 67% to £474m during the first half of 2016. Spend on social media sites also rocketed – 43% to £745m – while the amount spent on content and native ads increased 29% to £451m.

This shouldn’t come as a big surprise given the investment that’s gone into making social media advertising as simple and accessible as possible, enabling low budget kitchen table entrepreneurs to compete for the same audience as the big-buck blue chips.

It’s also a win win situation for social platforms to offer advertising that works through building better consumer experiences.

Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat are on a continual mission to create better user experiences and in turn provide ever more alluring and inventive ways for brands to make deeper, more meaningful connections with their audience.

Social media is constantly evolving how you can advertise from the format of the ads themselves and where they appear to rules on text, video and images.

While the trend for virtual reality and 360-degree video grips the advertising world, new opportunities are also emerging for brands to capitalise on the rising use of messenger apps.

According to EMarketer, 2.19bn people will use messaging apps by 2019. Facebook recently hinted at a New York press conference that while it was focusing on creating better experiences for messenger app uses, the fact that “Consumers are naturally behaving with businesses [on Facebook Messenger]” would eventually pose opportunities for advertisers.

For marketers working with a medium that’s in a constant state of flux, there are no hard and fast rules to define the ingredients for an effective campaign.

The variables that we have to play with can seem infinite with no silver bullet for success. But a maturing, growing and evolving medium also presents a multitude of exciting opportunities where the power lies in the myriad of choice and it pays to take a more experimental approach.

New frontier of advertising
In traditional press, TV and radio advertising, marketers understand the rules of engagement. But social media presents a whole new frontier of advertising where there is no ‘one size fits all’ and there is no single rule for best practice; everything is in fluctuation.

For TV campaigns, which will run for months or even years, the cost of investment in production is significant and planning is king. It’s vital to research the market and test several concepts before defining a winning campaign. The whole process is time consuming and very considered at every stage.

The speed of change in social media means marketers have had to become more agile in their approach and data has become king. Real time results mean that we can feasibly test and test again to optimise over time.

Experimental advertising
An experimental approach has never been more relevant at any other time in history. It’s also never been easier.

For relatively low costs you can try multiple strategies and tactics and even work with existing assets, immersing your brand into this bold new medium to generate more connections and leads.

This isn’t about throwing mud at a wall to see what sticks; it’s about setting out a rigorous testing methodology. Trial a few sensible approaches, test, refine and enhance to find a pattern that works for your brand.

If you’re not already exploring the depths of social media advertising, then now is the time to look for a trusted partner. As the medium matures those experienced in navigating this new ever-changing terrain will have an advantage over newcomers.

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