08/01/11 Advertisers Begin to Look Beyond Facebook and Twitter

Marketers plan to extend social media ad investments

Social network marketing is now de rigueur for most brands. eMarketer estimates that 80% of companies with at least 100 employees conduct marketing activities on social networks this year. Fewer are advertising on social networks, but the number is growing.

May 2011 research from The Pivot Conference and Brian Solis found that two-thirds of marketers surveyed were already conducting social media advertising activities, and 18% more planned to do so in the next year. Most agreed that these efforts would prove very valuable, and 54% of those currently running ads were satisfied.

The success of these efforts so far—along with the continuing growth in consumer usage of social sites—may be leading advertisers to expand their plans to more social venues. Currently, Facebook and, to a lesser extent, Twitter dominate. More than nine in 10 respondents have deployed campaigns on Facebook and 78% have done so on Twitter; eMarketer estimates these sites will make $2.19 billion and $140 million, respectively, in US revenues this year. But advertising on sites like YouTube, LinkedIn and foursquare will grow: at least 20% of survey respondents indicate they would begin campaigns on these sites in the next year.

Lagging social networks may have to do more for advertisers, however, if they want to gain share as the social ad market gains momentum. A majority of respondents rated Facebook’s ad offerings excellent or good, but no other social site received such praise. Despite Twitter’s No. 2 ranking in advertiser usage, just 11% thought its ad offerings were excellent. This, in particular, could change as Twitter is expected to roll out more products, including a self-service option, this year.

More education for marketers may also be needed. While many have adopted social media usage enthusiastically, their knowledge of social advertising may be lagging. Among respondents that don’t currently advertise on social sites but plan to in the next year, 83% believed that simply blogging or tweeting for a company was a form of social advertising. Just 69% cited paid placements or other paid visibility programs on the sites. Social networks that want to encourage uptake of those paid products may have to do more to make them visible and understandable for marketers.


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