Last week, Metric Theory & LinkedIn co-hosted an event called “Performance Next: New Ad Partners for 2020 and Beyond.” Located at the beautiful Fairmont San Francisco during the week of Dreamforce, the groundbreaking event delved into three core emerging channels: Quora, Reddit, and LinkedIn of course. Following the channel presentations, our expert panelists dove into how they identify, test, and evaluate new channels, and what their teams are doing as we head into 2020.

Couldn’t attend the event? No problem – keep reading to learn about the top five takeaways from the discussion. Whether you’re already testing these platforms, considering channel expansion opportunities, or just purely interested in the topic, this post is for you.

1. Start testing these emerging platforms NOW

The time is now to get on the emerging channel bandwagon. There is an inherent risk in not diversifying your marketing mix. Figuring out the right mix is a science, and you have to figure out the right formula for your business. In other words, play to the different platform strengths, test, learn, and iterate.

Quora Ads’ Evangelist, JD Prater, and Reddit Ads’ Director of Online Sales, Emily Huo both spoke to the unduplicated audiences on their respective platforms. There is a niche percentage of users on both Quora and Reddit that are not on major platforms Google and Facebook. Consider your audience and what platforms have the strongest targeting options available to get in front of them.

 

2. Carve out a testing budget when experimenting with new channels

A designated testing budget is key for many reasons. It ensures you are allowing yourself enough room to test without having to immediately compare performance to existing channels. It also provides your team with the breathing room to do more testing and really give a new channel a fair shake. To give a new channel a solid chance at success, you should test it for 6-12 weeks, depending on the level of data, audiences, and ad products there are to test. If your team feels like it needs to perform right away, that will have a chilling effect on their decision-making throughout the process.

Ultimately, you’ll have to decide: Is the program worth graduating into your core marketing efforts? If not, nix it, and move on to your next test.

 

3. Do not evaluate performance like you do for your existing media mix

Comparing newly launched Quora performance to Facebook performance that’s been running for two years is equivalent to comparing apples and oranges. The more you test, you’ll be able to establish a baseline of performance and back into channel-specific goals.

 

With new channels, you’re likely not going to drive conversions right off the bat (after all, our event was called Performance Next, not Performance Now). But, you are going to get more touchpoints. No matter how you measure performance, be sure to look at the velocity of improvement. If you are seeing incremental gains with each week of the channel test, then the test is moving in the direction of success. As David Tam from OneLogin said, “Don’t stop something when the train is full speed ahead toward improvement.”

Remember that, even if a new channel doesn’t drive a ton of conversions, you will always have the opportunity to learn something from the test. Creative insights, new audience opportunities, and asset development are just a few examples of rich learnings you can draw.

 

4. Prioritize creative development

A lot of these newer channels are incredibly visual. For that reason, impressions are going to carry some more weight than on less visual platforms like Google Ads for example. Simple creative tests can yield super strong results across these emerging platforms.

Design creative that is platform-specific. Copying over the same creative from Facebook or email marketing efforts to the newer platforms is not going to cut it. For instance, Facebook prefers imagery with 20% or less text, but Quora prefers text-heavier imagery. Leverage channel-specific best practices when developing creative to test.

5. B2B advertisers should look to ABM data when evaluating performance

B2B marketing should be essentially synonymous with ABM or account-based marketing. As Mimi Rosenheim, Sr. Director Digital Marketing & Brand at Demandbase said, “ABM is a strategy, not a tactic.” Create a user flow that’s unique to specific types of accounts and tailor compelling content to those accounts as well.

 

With so many stakeholders involved in the decision-making process, your ABM efforts are most likely not going to be attributed to the channels on a last-click basis. Rosenheim talked about a split-test she ran at Demandbase in which they exposed certain accounts to targeted ABM ads and the control group of accounts did not see ads. The results showed that ad-exposed accounts exhibited higher pipeline velocity. This just speaks to the importance of evaluating ABM efforts differently when there are so many people involved. LinkedIn especially should be a part of any ABM campaign planning, and they shared with the audience some exciting new features they’re releasing in 2020 to tap into this. (They weren’t public yet, sorry! You’ll just have to attend one of our next events to get sneak peeks like this.)

Of course, there is an inherent opportunity cost to testing. You have to weigh the opportunity cost and your benchmarks, and determine if the channel is worth a test.

In the school of digital marketing, LinkedIn, Quora, Reddit are just a few of the “new kids on the block.” It’s up to you to decide: are you going to include them at the lunch table? Contact us if you’re interested in learning more about incorporating emerging platforms into your paid media strategy.