The most recent study by Adobe Digital Index makes it clear that marketers who didn’t advertise on social networks during the 2013 holiday season missed out on high quality traffic and click through rates from social ads. That said, it’s imperative to analyze and optimize each campaign to determine which ad-purchasing method is the most efficient.

Adobe Digital Index data reports that click-through-rates (CTR) for Facebook paid advertising, for instance, were up 365% year-over-year (YOY). As predicted in Adobe’s Q3 2013 social report, marketers CPC rates increased during the holiday season, as well, up 29% quarter-over-quarter. CPM rates also increased, up 51% quarter-over-quarter.

Ad CPC

Overall, there continues to be upside for utilizing social media for two reasons. First, it has a large audience for a relatively low cost. Second, most marketers haven’t even begun to experiment or optimize social paid advertising yet, so there remains a good deal of potential.

Adobe Digital Index analyzed 240 billion ad impressions, over 1.5 billion Facebook posts, and more than 500 million visits referred from social sites, including Twitter and Facebook, in the quarterly social intelligence report on paid, earned, and owned social media.

Twitter Was A Winter Wonderland

Although the volume of traffic from social networks was flat during the holiday season, the quality of the traffic improved dramatically. Twitter showed the largest quarter-over-quarter revenue per visit (RPV) growth, up 84%.

Facebook still refers the highest RPV and was up 31% quarter-over-quarter, but Tumblr had the highest year-over-year RPV growth, up four times that of last year—and it put up a good fight with Facebook for the top social-referred revenue site. Although small in comparison to Facebook, this site showed that it belongs in the conversation for deserving some marketing spend. Marketers will want to capitalize on Tumblr’s high quality traffic by including more and higher quality images and videos in their brand pages and testing new marketing opportunities which Tumblr is likely to release in 2014.

social_rpv_yoy

Pinterest, which we predicted would overtake Facebook in RPV in 2014, did so, but only in the United Kingdom. Look for Pinterest to compete with Facebook for top RPV referrer in 2014. Retail marketers in particular will likely continue to keep an eye on the marketing opportunities within this site, especially with paid promoted pins becoming available some time in 2014.

Social RPV UK

Although social media continues to grow, Facebook is beginning to see competition and is starting to lose share to other networks. Twitter, up 125% year-over-year, and Pinterest, up 89% year-over-year, and offer viable marketing opportunities this year.

Share of social visits

Social Media in 2014?

Overall, 2014 will see continued growth in social ad revenue, as more marketers jump in and social media networks add paid media capacity and capabilities. Marketers face a real challenge balancing between paid media programs across display, search, and social to deliver optimal results. Marketers must also determine whether CPM or CPC is the right way to go for them.

Social media networks are picking up steam and have their eyes on capturing a greater proportion of search dollars. The real race will not be between social media networks, but between marketer’s allocation of dollars across search, display, and social. With the increase in ads, social media risks alienating users while it courts marketers. With social networks continuing to integrate more geo- and interest-targeting capabilities, look for click-through-rates to continue to grow. We’re sure to see some missteps along the way, but the social media audience size is sufficiently compelling that that, by 2015, we expect to see a good balance between content and advertising, and targeting and privacy, that marketers and users, alike, can all live with.

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