Scale in the absence of defining “scale in what” is like an all you can eat buffet – it sounds enticing in concept but often makes no practical sense. Worse, depending on what’s on the menu, it can badly upset your stomach. For example, who would wants to buy an all you can eat buffet, only to find out it’s an oyster buffet – they’re bound to be bad oysters. Caveat emptor.
Just as very few goods are purchased online (roughly 13%), making online conversion to purchase impossible, so too is the quest for scale a red herring. Very few campaigns or budgets can come close to exhausting the reach of even a small or mid-sized publisher with a few million uniques.
What’s more the quest for scale often comes at the expense of asking the vital question: scale in what? The core concerns of the meal, or campaign, should be: is it of adequate size to satiate, does it fulfill your demand for quality, and does it delight the senses. These questions effectively answer brand, audience, and ROI.
Why simply ask, “is the buffet unlimited,” and be left meandering back and forth along the display of chafing dishes hoping for something that you can keep down.
I’m increasingly seeing smart brands and agencies execute social advertising programs that are banner free that exclusively use BuzzFeed Story Units and our distribution into Facebook Sponsored Stories, Twitter, StumbleUpon, and other social ad platforms. Our creative services team does all the work to make the assets and content perform on our platform. In just as many cases, other publishers will be involved as well. There’s no need to buy banners or low performing inventory for they sake of an additional security blanket of “scale.” The products put in these “scale security blankets,” such ‘welcome’ screen ads and even tv commercials, often provide false scale security, perhaps in need of a “scale discount factor” given banner blindness and time-shifted viewing where people skip the commercials, or just ignore them.
Scale needs to walk hand in hand with product. If the ad product isn’t any good, the scale is pointless. Similarly an awesome product with no audience is equally worthless.
With social content at scale there is much greater engagement, earned media, and sharing. It can stand on it’s own in achieving scale, perhaps even deserving of a multiplier due to high engagement as opposed to a discount factor. Further this is a meal that completely fills the stomach and leaves you feeling good.