Why latest social media ad sales moves don’t spell the death of the salesman

snapchat logoIn recent weeks we have seen something of a watershed moment in online advertising. Some of the hottest properties of the web, namely Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, all began opening up new advertising systems.

Twitter in November launched a self-service advertising platform in the UK, Ireland and Canada aimed, the company said, at SMBs. Then on 5th December Twitter launched its new ad-retargeting platform, a further move towards being a sophisticated advertising platform in its own right.

Tumblr and Instagram in the last few weeks began showing brand advertising in their users’ news feeds, which is new for both social networks. Tumblr is owned by Yahoo! and Instagram by Facebook, so it’s no surprise to see the ad offerings look the way they do.

Now even Snapchat is getting in on the game. It has just announced that it has poached Instagram’s advertising boss Emily White, the person credited for bringing advertising to Instagram, so it seems the online advertising space is really hotting up.

In the online advertising age however, for most businesses at least, the art of the human sell is long from being dead and buried. In my opinion online advertising’s renaissance at the hands of social media spells a new dawn for the art of the human sell. Let me explain why.

In the UK, 99% of businesses are small to medium in size, otherwise known as SMBs. Our data shows that when service oriented SMBs advertise online, the result  is not just a click, add to cart and check out online. In fact up to 70% of SMBs that we see through our data are turning clicks into calls. Shoppers, when dealing with small businesses, really want to talk.

The reason for this is two-fold. Firstly, many small businesses simply don’t have a purely online business model. Secondly, many service-type businesses, such as a car showroom, a financial advisor, a dentist or a local real estate agent, for example, are advertising online to create a phone call and then perhaps a visit into their premises. You see in both examples here, online advertising is just the beginning of a journey which ends up in the human sell.

The way I see it, online targeting is just maths. Our technology helps SMBs and services connect a click with a call and then give the business data that they’ve never had before. This is really important, as up until now, the journey that starts online and ends with a salesman has often traveled through a huge online blind spot.

There is no doubting that once Twitter, Snapchat, Tumblr, Instagram and many more yet to come get their ad platforms up to full speed, brands will have a tantalising array of options to get themselves noticed.

But online advertising is now a complex mix of online presence, big data and the good old art of the sell. The modern day salesman needs a pinch of Tim Berners Lee with a dash of Dale Carnegie. Stats and selling hand in hand are what is needed to take things forward into what promises to be a record-breaking festive period.

Carl Holmquist is Founder & CEO of Freespee, which has established phone calls as a strategic currency to increase competitive edge and revenue growth.