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McDonald?s bets on rich media to build Facebook following

McDonald?s latest mobile push reveals how the quick-service restaurant keeps ahead of the competition by investing in rich media ads to support its Facebook presence.

The burger chain is running rich media mobile ads within The Hollywood Reporter?s mobile site to promote its Big Mac sandwich. The McDonald?s campaign comes at a time when more marketers are reportedly losing some of their organic reach on Facebook and are likely pumping in more marketing campaigns to drive traffic.

"Organic reach, even for brands with massive fan communities like McDonald's, are declining significantly ? this means that brands must spend media dollars to reach fans, friends of fans and high-value audiences," said Marko Z. Muellner, vice president of marketing at ShopIgniter, Portland, OR.

"CPMs are still pretty low on Facebook, and marketers are usually able to reach high-value audiences at scale for reasonable cost," he said. "With organic reach falling and the need to invest media dollars, marketers should shift their social media strategies away from fan-acquisition toward reach, engagement and conversion. This is where social rich media or social performance marketing can unlock success."

Mr. Muellner is not associated with McDonald?s. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.

McDonald?s did not respond to press inquiries.

Building social presences
Copy on the mobile ad reads, ?Big Mac Mash Up.? Clicking through on a banner ad prompts consumers to hold their device in landscape mode to interact with content.

The ad pulls in a swipable gallery with seven different pieces of content. Consumers are encouraged to pick their favorite by tapping on a photo. Tapping on a photo leads consumers to a Facebook page that McDonald?s has set up to promote the Big Mac.

"Liking" the Facebook page is buried within McDonald's ad though, which could lead to better engagement, per Shuli Lowy, New York-based marketing director at Ping Mobile.

Ms. Lowy is not affiliated with McDonald's. She spoke based on her expertise on the subject.

"Instead, McDonald's focused on creating an engaging brand experience and only placed the key call-to-action towards the end of the ad experience when the customer engagement was somewhat more qualified," she said.

McDonald?s is primarily using the Facebook page to post images and graphics that skew the Big Mac product towards younger audiences that the burger chain is aiming to win over.

For example, last week McDonald?s posted a graphic with copy on it that read, ?A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with a Big Mac knows what?s up.?

The campaign is only one of many similar campaigns that McDonald?s has run in the past that leverage rich media to increase social media presences. 

For example, a similar campaign last year to promote the Big Mac integrated Instagram as part of a photo promotion urging consumers to snap pictures of their hamburgers (see story).

Also last year, McDonald?s worked with DDB Chicago to place rich media mobile and Web ads within Facebook and Twitter to introduce a new line of chicken wings (see story).

The idea behind these campaigns is that the rich media component hooks a consumer into a social experience where they then follow the brand?s Facebook and Twitter pages to build longer-term engagements.

Even though native ads are gaining a lot of attention from brands, McDonald?s campaign also suggests that there may be some untapped opportunity with banners, including interactive photo galleries and rich content.

Dwindling reach
As McDonald?s looks to ramp up mobile advertising to drive social engagement, Facebook is reportedly cutting off some organic reach from Pages.

Mobile has played a significant role in Facebook?s growth over the past couple of years and now represents more than 50 percent of revenue, according to the company?s fourth-quarter results (see story). 

Cutting down on some of the organic reach that marketers have on Facebook would force marketers to run more paid campaigns with the social media site and could potentially shift some mobile ad spend from display to Facebook?s native ads.

At the same time, Facebook has also lost some traction with millennials, McDonald?s prime demographic for this campaign.

?As most of our brands are seeing less than a two percent organic reach, it is glaringly clear that if we want our content to be seen, we are going to need to pay for it,? said Travis Freeman, head of earned media at iProspect, Boston.

Mr. Freeman is not associated with McDonald?s. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.

?It is basically the same price at this point to reach fans or non-fans, so we need to be smarter about who we are targeting,? he said. ?We need to be perpetually looking at the data to see which groups are most efficient, and then target them and also build lookalikes, not mass blanketing fans.?

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York