5 Paid Social Media Lessons Learned in 2015

It’s been a big year in the paid social media space.  With the close of the year upon us, here are  some of the lessons we learned.

1. Paid Social Shows No Sign of Slowing Down

According to eMarketer, social network ad spending will reach over $10 Billion this year.  This number is expected to reach over $16 Billion in 2016 and account for over 20% of digital ad spending altogether.  Needless to say, social network ad spending isn’t a trend but rather a thriving industry filled with major players and budgets.

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2. Facebook’s Offerings Are Best in Class

Some distance with respect to ad offerings took place in 2015.  The big winner in the space is Facebook/Instagram for a few reasons.  The big move was Instagram opening up advertising to everyone.  Previously, only selected accounts with deep pockets were able to advertise, but later in the year they opened it up to all.  Both Facebook and Instagram share the same ad management platform equipped with powerful targeting features that not only benefit marketers but also the user.  Seeing more relevant ads made the social media experience more seamless without being too creepy.  Lastly, they are constantly adding and testing new targeting options and ad types.  The Brand Awareness objective ad that rolled out this year gave way to a new ad metric, ad recall; giving advertisers a better sense of how many people recalled seeing a branded message.

3. Newer Social Channels are Reserved for Bigger Budgets

Still young to the ad game, advertisers like Snapchat require relatively lofty budgets. It wasn’t too long ago that we were in the same boat with Pinterest and, as mentioned earlier, Instagram.  Snapchat has done a fair amount this year to expand its targeting, offerings and budget parameters as it was under some tough scrutiny with respect to all of these areas.  But with high demand to reach their core demo, many brands seem to have little trouble reaching into their pockets to pony up.

4. We are Getting Somewhere with Social ROI

While the question of social ROI is still very much on the table, paid social has shed some light on the subject.  Late this year eMarketer came out with insightful report that graded the major social networks on their advertising effectiveness.  Of the Big three, Facebook scored the highest with a B+ when it came to driving ROI, while LinkedIn, scoring a C+, proved they still have some improvements to make.  The highest scoring emerging network was Pinterest with a solid B.

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5. Paid Social Plays in Many Spaces

Paid social has been a game changer. These are not your mother’s digital display ads. Ads can be set-up based on objectives and optimized to your liking. Objectives can be lead gen, web traffic, engagement, conversions, and the list keeps growing. Is one objective working better than the other? It’s easy to swap budgets between campaigns and even channels. Advertisers have control.

Traditionally, fourth quarter has been the most expensive quarter with respect to media buying.  This year, more so that previous years, we saw how events such as Small Business Saturday, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday drove up competition and therefore ad prices in the primarily auction-based paid social space.  It is now officially safe to say that if you can push your dollars into less expensive quarters, like first, you can save yourself major bucks.  If you need to be in the game, be sure and plan your budget accordingly.

So there you have it.  A growing and glowing year for paid social.  Looking forward to what 2016 has to say.

Ignite Social Media