In 2018, brands spent $28 billion on social media advertising in the U.S., with the vast majority of that money allocated toward platforms owned by Facebook. It’s now quite common for media buyers to carve out a substantial portion of any ad budget and dedicate it to social media.
This is despite the fact that user engagement on social media posts is notoriously low. Tweets see an engagement rate of about 0.05%, while the organic reach for the average Facebook page is 6%. For all the investment brands have placed in building their social media accounts, very few users actually see their posts.
The same can’t be said for email newsletters. Industry newsletters boast an open rate of about 20%, and because of the opt-in nature of newsletters, subscribers are intensely loyal. That’s why some of the fastest-growing media companies right now — TheSkimm, Home Brew, The Hustle — are newsletter-based.
Yet very small portions of online ad budgets are allocated to newsletters. In fact, media buyers often ignore them entirely. In a recently-published white paper titled “Why ad agencies should include newsletter in their media buys,” SmartBrief outlines the myriad benefits to newsletter advertising. These include:
- Higher engagement rates: Controlled studies have shown that newsletter advertising drives significant brand recall. Istation, an e-learning platform, saw its brand recognition increase by 17.2 points after it advertised on Smartbrief. Nurses who were exposed to a SmartBrief ad for Tylenol were much more likely to recommend the product to patients when compared to a control audience.
- Access to first-party data: Most programmatic and social media ad networks rely heavily on third-party data, which has been shown to be often unreliable. At the same time, mobile operating systems and popular web browsers are making it increasingly difficult for programmatic ad networks to attach cookies to users. Newsletter advertising, on the other hand, relies entirely on first-party data that are collected at the point of subscription.
- Brand safety: It’s almost a daily occurrence now that a social media platform gets caught running ads adjacent to extremist content. Brands also lose billions of dollars each year to programmatic ad fraud. Newsletters don’t include user-generated content and are curated by professional editors. And because each email is authenticated, most ad fraud networks pose little threat to newsletters