3 Takeaways from 2013 Q4 Social Advertising

By Cassidy Bohan 2013 Q4 data showed significant growth for social advertisers, establishing major players like Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter as valuable advertising platforms for marketers. Facebook, still leading the pack, saw ad budgets and ad ROI increase, along with referrals per visit (up 31% from Q3).

Reports continue to release various growth statistics and rankings of social networks for marketers, but overall, there are three themes within the Q4 ad results to consider when developing your social ad strategy in 2014. So to help sort through the reports, I've pulled the most important takeaways.

Here are the three things you need to know about 2013 Q4 social advertising data:









1. Marketers aren't taking full advantage of placement offerings and targeting capabilities. 

Social ad platforms are continuing to make advancements in their offerings and most marketers are not taking full advantage, leaving a huge opportunity for others this year.

Facebook’s recent placement advancements to ad offerings helped marketers drive promising results in Q4, encouraging 2014 efforts. Ads placed in the News Feed, appearing native on the site, drive 44x higher click through rates at 67% lower CPC and 5x higher conversion rates. Twitter also made ad creative updates, recently updating promoted accounts to now include calls to action and appear native in the timeline. To take advantage of these ad placements within social feeds, promoted content will need to resonate on a deeper level as competition continues to increase. Rich visual media will continue to be the top driver of desired actions on social media.

Facebook also redefined its targeting, adding better coverage of career and relationship information. Facebook will also roll out re-targeting capabilities within their existing custom audience features. This would allow direct response marketers to send messages to people who have visited websites or mobile apps. According to Facebook for Business: “By placing the Facebook remarketing pixel on their Web site, or the Facebook or third-party SDK in their mobile app, more marketers can now build Custom Audiences based upon the actions people take while visiting their site or mobile app -- and then show deliver ads based on these actions."

2. Users are choosing mobile over desktop.

Mobile accounted for 53% of Facebook’s ad revenue in Q4, as more users have officially moved to mobile devices over desktop. Half of Facebook’s mobile users only access the network from mobile devices, and about 58% of mobile users logged on every day in Q4 (compared to 62% for combined desktop and mobile). The number of companies tracking and optimizing mobile revenue has tripled from 2012 to 2013, providing Facebook and Twitter with huge incentives to improve ad offerings for growing mobile traffic.

3. Smaller networks are proving marketing value to advertisers. 

Facebook has established itself as the marketing powerhouse in social media--and continued to prove this in Q4.  As Facebook marketing budgets grow, marketers can also benefit from looking at the smaller, emerging networks to best reach their target audience and make a lasting impression.

Twitter saw an 84% increase in revenue per visit in Q4 from Q3. The platform is continuing to improve its ad offerings to better position itself against Facebook and TV. According to a RBC survey, 60% of Twitter advertisers expect to increase their Twitter ad budget.

Tumblr had the highest year-over-year revenue per visit growth in 2013. Marketers should keep Tumblr as a consideration, as there is an opportunity to stand out, especially as Tumblr will likely look to release brand pages in 2014.

Pinterest is already on many retail marketers radar. At the end of Q4, referral traffic share grew up 30%, and users spend $140-$180 per order. Pinterest is expected to roll out promoted pins in early 2014, after months of experimenting. The network promises to ensure relevant, native ads to not ruin the user experience.

In order to see desired results this year, marketers must determine which of these platforms their audiences are on and how they can best deploy native advertising.

What did you learn from your  Q4 marketing results? Share in the comments below!