What is Social Media Advertising?

  • July 04, 2013


According to the 2013 Online Advertising Performancel, advertisers are changing how they view the online medium. “Long the bastion for direct response, marketers are now embracing online for branding purposes aimed at shifting consumer perception,” Nielsen says.

Sixty-three percent of marketers project that the dollars allocated to online brand advertising will grow in 2013, and one in five believes the increase will exceed 20 percent.

While brand marketers are projecting overall growth in brand ad spending in 2013, they are also predicting their spending in particular digital channels will grow faster than others. Nearly three-quarters (70%) of brand marketers plan to increase their use of social media in 2013, followed closely by mobile advertising (69%) and video advertising (64%). Ad agencies are also projecting growth in mobile advertising (81%) and video advertising (73 percent), and social (57%).


The lure of social media advertising is massive: As brands look across a fractured media landscape, social networks offer them an interesting proposition. Social networks have scale – enormous user bases and deep databases. They have high engagement – Americans were spending an average of 12 hours per month on social networks as of July 2012, with 18-24 year olds averaging 20 hours. And potentially, social media gives brands offer a uniquely captive audience for their content.

Guaranteed placement is getting advertisers to pay up: Brands are paying to get their content or copy in front of a quantifiable audience, an increasingly rare feat in an era of scattered consumer attention. This desire for guaranteed attention also helps to explain social media’s move away from traditional display ads — like Facebook’s right-rail ads — and toward so-called native ads that surface in a user’s stream, either as a tweet or a Facebook post. A consensus seems to be forming around in-stream advertising as the most promising social advertising format.

Social media advertising is set to explode: Social media advertising is a young market and so far, it only represents 1% to 10% of ad budgets for a wide majority of advertisers. There’s significant opportunity for that share to grow. BIA/Kelsey recently came out with a study that offers one view – forecasting $11 billion of social ad spend in 2017, up from $4.7 billion last year. That estimate is large – but still seems pessimistic, because…

Increased mobile usage will be a huge growth driver: The BIA/Kelsey prediction calls for mobile to account for only $2.2 billion of that in 2017 – a 20% market share. This could easily be surpassed. Both Twitter and Facebook have passed the 50% mobile usage mark and, given the continued growth of mobile devices, it will only rise. Mobile accounted for 11% of Facebook’s ad revenue last year even though it didn’t release mobile ads until the tail end of the second quarter. By the fourth quarter, it was up to 23%. And now, Twitter is reporting that its mobile ad revenue now regularly outpaces its desktop ad revenue. Social media advertising is therefore uniquely positioned to grab an increasing share of the fast growing mobile advertising market.


Set your advertising goals first. Before you even get started, think about the reasons you want to advertise on social media, and what you want to get out of it.

Create both daily and lifetime budgets for your campaigns. Setting your budget for both the entire length of a campaign, as well as on a daily basis, will help you decide which ads to run when.

Research the social advertising platforms. Regardless of the best type for your campaign, familiarize yourself with your options so that you can make the best decision.

Fit your social ad campaigns in the context of other advertising initiatives. In order to create cohesion, make sure your creative, messaging and targeting coincides with the rest of your traditional advertising.

Match available targeting options with your advertising objectives. Part of the allure of social media ads is the plethora of targeting options, but consider what you want to accomplish using targeting before making decisions.

Test, test, test. The best way to determine the success of something is to have two small test groups and show them different versions of the same promoted content, then using the better-performing content for the balance of the list.

Automate wherever possible. The next stage for companies using social ads is to use a platform that makes optimization decisions based on performance.

Don’t forget about time of day and scheduling. Look at the times and days on which people are most engaged with your ad, and devote more of your budget to those times.

Determine the metrics that will best represent your campaign status. As your campaign progresses, either make changes to optimize the results of your chosen metrics, or determine whether you need to change what you’re measuring.

Set regular meetings to analyze metrics. The only way to know what needs to be changed, if anything, is to look at the results on a regular basis.





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