The just-released Social Intelligence Report by Adobe Digital Index (ADI) for Q4 2013 makes it clear that marketers who didn’t advertise on social networks during the holiday season missed out on high-quality traffic and click-through rates (CTRs) from social ads.
That said, it’s imperative to analyze and optimize each campaign to determine which ad-purchasing method is the most efficient.
ADI data shows that CTRs for Facebook paid advertising, for instance, were up 365% year-over-year (YOY). As predicted in Adobe’s Q3 2013 social report, marketers’ cost-per-click (CPC) rates increased during the holiday season, as well, up 29% quarter-over-quarter. Cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) rates also increased, up 51% quarter-over-quarter.
Overall, social media continues to offer upsides for two reasons: First, it has a large audience for a relatively low cost. Second, most marketers haven’t even begun to experiment or optimize social paid advertising yet, so a good deal of potential remains.
For this report, ADI analyzed 240 billion ad impressions, more than 1.5 billion Facebook posts, and more than 500 million visits referred from social sites, including Twitter and Facebook, in the quarterly social intelligence report on paid, earned, and owned social media.
Twitter Was A Winter Wonderland
Although the volume of traffic from social networks was flat during the holiday season, the quality of the traffic improved dramatically. Twitter showed the largest quarter-over-quarter revenue per visit (RPV) growth, up 84%.
Facebook still referred the highest RPV--up 31% quarter-over-quarter--but Tumblr had the highest YOY RPV growth, up four times that of 2012—and it put up a good fight with Facebook for the top social-referred revenue site. Although small in comparison to Facebook, this site showed it belongs in the conversation for deserving some marketing spend. Marketers will want to capitalize on Tumblr’s high-quality traffic by including more and higher quality images and videos on their brand pages and testing new marketing opportunities, which Tumblr is likely to release in 2014.
Pinterest, which ADI predicted would overtake Facebook in RPV in 2013, did so, but only in the United Kingdom. Look for Pinterest to overtake Facebook for top RPV referrer in 2014. Retail marketers, in particular, will likely continue to keep an eye on the marketing opportunities within this site, especially with paid promoted pins becoming available sometime in 2014.
Although social media continues to grow, Facebook is starting to lose share to other networks. Twitter, up 125% year-over-year, and Pinterest, up 89% year-over-year, will both offer viable marketing opportunities this year.
Social Media In 2014?
Overall, 2014 will see continued growth in social ad revenue, as more marketers jump in and social media networks add paid media capacity and capabilities. Marketers face a real challenge balancing between paid media programs across display, search, and social to deliver optimal results. Marketers must also determine whether CPM or CPC is the right way to go for them.
Social media networks are picking up steam and have their eyes on capturing a greater proportion of search dollars. The real race will not be among social media networks, but among marketers’ allocation of dollars across search, display, and social. With the increase in ads, social media risks alienating users while it courts marketers. With social networks continuing to integrate more geo- and interest-targeting capabilities, look for CTRs to continue to grow.
We’re sure to see some missteps along the way, but the social media audience size is sufficiently compelling that that, by 2015, we expect to see a good balance between content and advertising, and targeting and privacy, that marketers and users, alike, can all live with.