3 Ways Social Ad Platforms Are Improving Their Product for 2014

By Cassidy Bohan

As marketers are finding it more difficult to reach their audience on social news feeds, there has been plenty of conversation about the value of social ads. Some brands are frustrated with the fact that social media marketing is no longer free,  but others have taken the steps to realize that social media success is driven through organic and paid strategies. While social platforms are adjusting their algorithms to cater to users' needs, they are also providing more value to marketers than before.

There are three trends that the top social ad platforms are going after, and marketers should look to  take advantage in 2014.

1. Retargeting Mobile Users.

Retargeting ads keep track of users who click on your site, and then send them ads tailored to their online behavior. By reminding customers of the product/service they've already looked at, these ads increase the conversion rate of web traffic and keep your brand top of mind.

Facebook recently announced Website Custom Audiences, a feature that expands on a marketer's ability to target ads to people who visited their website or used their mobile app.

Similarly, Twitter recently announced Tailored Audiences, their retargeting product available through their third party ad partners.  Twitter can identify users by their login data to show them ads on mobile and desktop based on the web cookies they picked up from browsing.

Advertisers are continuing to look for the best way to send highly relevant messages to the right people on mobile screens and social platforms are expanding their offerings to make this happen.

2.  Second Screen Support

Mobile users are on their phones while shopping and watching TV, giving marketers the opportunity to send  relevant messages based on specific user activity.  So, mobile is a second screen to enhance the shopping and entertainment experience.

Twitter rolled out TV conversion targeting last month, allowing networks and brands to promote tweets to users who are engaging with specific shows.  This comes after a Neilson study found Twitter to be a complementary screen to TV giving marketers the opportunity to engage their audience, drive conversation, and actually increase tune-in. After roll out, they found that sales increased when promoted tweets were run alongside TV commercials.

Social apps have become the point of contact between marketers and mobile users. Advertisers will see improved targeting capabilities that best deploy ads as a complement to enhance the brand experience for the user.

3. Strategic Ad Unit Placement.

It's not just the presence of ads that makes an impact, but also the placement. One of the many changes made by Facebook to simplify its ad offerings was to improve and unify ad creative. Advertisers saw improved performance immediately. Larger images drive better engagement and are streamlined across mobile and desktop.

Twitter also upped its ad game when announcing Promoted Accounts in Timeline. This allows brands to place a promoted account ad in the most prominent place on Twitter. Previously, promoted accounts were limited to desktop on the “Who to Follow” side bar. Marketers can now better connect with the 76% of Twitter users who are mobile exclusive.

But when thinking of visual placement, don't forget to consider video. It's becoming a powerful tool to share content and drive consumer awareness. Facebook is launching Video Ads later this week. This will allow advertisers to buy their way directly into users' feeds. Facebook is also planning to expand its video ad metrics early in 2014, to compete with YouTube. It already has it has the ability to better target by demographic and interest data.

Social advertising platforms are continuing to improve their visual ad offerings, through quality images and video. This improves the overall user experience and provides brands with the ability to effectively distribute engaging content where the right audiences will see it.

Social advertising provided marketers with plenty of new capabilities this year, and more will come as social ad platforms continue to compete for ad budgets.

What social advertising capabilities are you looking for in 2014? Share your thoughts and comments below!