Social Media Advertising: Who Measures, Who Wins

Companies that best address the social advertising measurement challenge will get more of what eMarketer says will be $2.1 billion in U.S. spending next year. As I discuss in a post at GigaOM Pro, opportunistic suppliers will thrive by understanding what is unique about the space as well as how it fits in comparison to traditional media.

With the exception of user reviews and coupon-sharing/group shopping, today, most social media experiences lend themselves to brand advertising. Most traditional brand advertising measurement concepts are applicable to social media: demographics, reach, frequency, duration, brand “halo effects,” etc, but there are three things truly unique to social media:

  • Explicit preference. Whether it’s Facebook Likes or Twitter followers, social media properties offer marketers the chance to observe users’ self-professed preferences, rather than relying on implied or survey-determined preference.
  • Advocacy and pass-along. Social media enables consumers to post reviews and recommendations and act as a distribution channel for them and for advertiser messages. Of course, viral word-of-mouth exists offline, but social media greases the wheels and accelerates that viral spread.
  • Real-time feedback. Social media enables marketers and brands to take the pulse of their customers and prospects in real-time, where traditional media has to rely on slower market research techniques.

Marketers can get some of those traditional and social metrics from the social media companies where they happen, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Foursquare. But agencies and third-party tools and dashboards — like Google Analytics, Nielsen Buzzmetrics, WPP’s Cymfony, Radian6 and others — do a better job at aggregation and comparison.

Social media platforms that support and integrate those third-party tools should thrive, particularly if they can help agencies demonstrate that they deliver the three unique social attributes for campaigns and long-term marketing programs. They still need to work on supplying standard benchmarks, and there’s still no industry-agreed upon “currency” like Nielsen ratings, let alone one that advertisers can use cross-media.

Read the full post here.

Image source: flickr user wwarby