Will Ad-Free Meta Be A Threat To Agribusinesses? Marketing Digest: September 2023

Antony Smith
7 months ago

Marketing Digest: September 2023


Another month rolls by, and we have now made our way into Autumn, although you wouldn’t believe it the way the weather has been in the UK recently!

It has been another busy month from a marketing perspective with Meta and X firing off announcements left right and centre about updates to their respective platforms. I won’t run through all of them but I’ve cherry picked the ones I think could be most relevant to agribusinesses.


Will Ad-Free Meta be a Threat to Agribusinesses?


Probably the biggest announcement to be made in the last month is that Meta is considering offering a paid subscription version of Facebook and Instagram that would provide paying users with an ad-free experience. This has come in response to more stringent policies in the EU around how consumer data is collected and used.

The move would create a win-win situation for Meta as they still receive revenue from subscription payments on the ad-free platforms and will also continue to rake in the ad revenue from non-paying users.

So Meta wins either way, but what could this move mean for advertisers? Well, it means that you won’t be able to position ads in front of your potential customers if they are paying for the ad-free subscription. Considering that Facebook is currently one of the best channels for marketing to farmers, this could have a major impact on your paid media strategy.

There are a few key things you will have to consider:

  1. What percentage of your current audience is primarily on Facebook?
  2. How likely would they be to pay for a subscription to avoid ads? (Remember it’s not just you they will be seeing ads from, just like the rest of us they will be targeted with everything from tea bags to toothpaste).
  3. Do you have an emerging audience on other social media platforms? (Many of Gen Z and beyond aren’t active on Facebook, how soon do you expect your main target audience generation to change?).
  4. How engaging is your organic content? (If you have a strong organic content plan, you could still see considerable reach and engagement on Facebook without the need for ads.)

There is currently no timeline for when Meta might roll a subscription model out, but it is probably worth having a contingency plan for if they do. If you would like to read more about how farmers use social media and how to reach them you can do so here.


Instagram Testing 10-Minute Reels


Sticking with Meta for the moment, Instagram are reportedly testing the functionality for users to upload 10-minute reels to the platform. The current maximum is three minutes so the update will give you the opportunity to upload more in-depth video content in the most commonly used section of Instagram. The feature change is an attempt by Meta to challenge TikTok which already allows users to upload 10-minute videos.

Traditionally you might have uploaded a short snippet of the video to Instagram with a prompt to visit your website to view a longer format which provides potential buyers with more detail. Being able to upload that longer format video directly to Instagram skips an entire stage of the customer journey arming them with enough information to click through and make a purchase or submit an enquiry.

One caveat is that Instagram reels are currently a lot shorter, and it may be difficult to keep a potential customer engaged for a whole 10 minutes. When they role out the new functionality my advice would be to A/B test long and short format videos to see which have the most success.


X Testing Email Gathering of Your Subscribers


Whilst Meta is exploring ways to decrease the ways they collect and use the data of their users, X is taking a different approach and is testing the functionality for brands and creators to gather the contact email addresses of their subscribers.

This is an update to the platform that Elon Musk has promised ever since his takeover, and it looks like it may now be coming true. The new function would give users the option to share their email with the page they subscribe to, which would give permission for the creator or brand to contact them off-platform with updates and offers.

This offers a new opportunity for capturing data, and, providing that you have a good brand reputation, can yield a healthy opt-in rate. After all, why would a user subscribe to your page if they weren’t interested in what you had to say?

One tip for encouraging users to opt-in could be to offer exclusive ‘subscriber only’ content and offers that users can only get access to if they submit their email address.


New PR Visibility from Google


Google is exploring yet another update to its search engine results pages in the form of a ‘mentioned in’ drop down under company website results. The drop down will feature snippets and links through to key articles and websites that have mentioned the company.

This potentially adds a whole new dimension to digital PR and how it links in with your SEO strategy. Where previously getting featured on other websites was a good way of building links and raising your domain authority, these mentions could also be used to build authority directly on results pages as users decide whether or not to click on your website and explore further.

This highlights the importance of building good quality back links to your site from reputable sources. Opting for a cheap quick fix SEO strategy might be a way to build links fast, however, not only will Google catch you out in the long run, but your poor-quality mentions will be on show for all to see!


Ad Spotlight: McDonald’s Melting Billboard

McDonald's Melting Billboard

We finish off September’s marketing digest with a look at an ad campaign which has caught our attention recently.

As temperatures in the UK began to soar over the last week or so, McDonald’s seized the opportunity the entice us with a subtle promotion of its cool milkshakes.

As you can see, the billboard features nothing more than a partial snippet of their ‘golden arches’ brand mark and a single drip of melting strawberry milkshake, and yet you would be hard pushed to find anyone who didn’t know exactly what they were looking at.

What we like:

  1. Subtlety – We only get a hint of branding on the ad and yet we know exactly what we are looking at. This highlights the importance of creating a strong and simple brand that will be instantly recognisable to your customers.
  2. Reactiveness – McDonald’s didn’t mess around. Yes, you could argue that the campaign may have been developed and planned to launch earlier in the year but was pushed back due to the dismal summer we have had. However, being able to produce creative and secure positioning in such a short time as the weather turned shows the importance of being agile as a brand to react to changing situations. This campaign couldn’t be planned 6 months in advance because there would be nothing worse than promoting milkshakes on a grey and wet September morning.

A simple yet effective ad all round, whether their machines are working or not is a different story all together…


And that’s a rap on the marketing digest for September. As always if you would like to discuss any of the topics covered in more detail you can reach me via email at antony@redstagmedia.co.uk


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