The social advertising space is a rapidly growing and maturing category. Social advertising generates more than 85% of revenue for both Facebook and Twitter, and marketers’ spend is trending sharply upward. In fact, the vendor customer references I spoke with for this evaluation spent an average of $512,000 per month on social ads. However, the public social networks’ native tools are insufficient for enterprise marketers manage this spend. Vendors have responded with products intended to help marketers achieve outcomes that justify the effort and spend.
We define this category as:
Platforms that help marketers buy, manage, optimize, and measure ads on public social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
These platforms are best used by marketers seeking to reach new customers who aren’t already aware of their offerings; they should be used alongside both TV and search ads as well as social reach tactics, such as influencer and advocate marketing.
We selected vendors that have a standalone social offering, a strong self-service platform, a critical mass of enterprise customers, and customers that spent more than $50 million on social advertising through the vendor in the 12-month period ending July 1, 2013. The best vendors help with analytics and measurement capabilities; measure beyond the social network's walls; and integrate social advertising with other reach tactics and types of ads.
Your customers don’t come to your website or your own social channels (such as your Facebook brand page) to discover whether what you offer meets a need or fulfills a desire they have. Instead, people discover you mostly through ads and word of mouth (WOM). To spread your message to a new audience, update your understanding of "reach channels" to include not only traditional tactics such as TV, search, and print but also the three key social tactics for this phase of the life cycle: influencer marketing, advocate marketing, and social advertising.
In my most recent research report, I examine how these different reach tactics are related and how you should balance trust and targeting in your social reach strategy. Specifically, there are four categories of contributors create content on your behalf:
Your marketing team uses social ads to target your prospects and customers precisely.
Employees, resellers, and partners share their experiences with your prospects.
Your customers relate to your prospects as peers.
Influencers shape the conversation about your solutions.
Today, Facebook announced a new road map for its social advertising solutions. Over the coming months, Facebook will evolve its ad offerings to:
Focus on business objectives. “Do Facebook advertising” is not a business object unto itself. Social advertising broadly, and Facebook advertising specifically, is just one piece of a broader mix of options to reach new audiences. Facebook plans to help marketers align their spending to their business objectives by offering solutions specifically for brand marketers, online retailers, and other types of advertisers.
Make social ads more social. Facebook’s data shows that ads on its site work better when they contain a social component (e.g., ‘your friend Nate likes this brand’) — so soon, all Facebook ads will contain social elements by default. This is part of a larger trend to make social advertising more personal than traditional display advertising.
Simplify its advertising options. As Fidji Simo, Facebook Ads Product Manager, said today, "it should be simpler." Today, Facebook offers a veritable Chinese menu of ad units that frankly confuse most marketers. To simplify ad buying, Facebook plans to slash its existing number of ad units in half to create a simpler ad-buying experience.