Social Ads: What Lies Ahead for Marketers

What can marketers expect from social ads in the coming year? More mobile, more video and more partnerships.

SocialAdsAlexis Caffrey is a freelance writer who covers technology and social media. She can be found @alexiscaffrey.

Social advertising isn’t just about slapping an ad on a website. It has to be refined and blend in, appearing native to its surroundings.

Marketers can expect to see an increase in social ads — forecasters predict that by 2017, social advertising revenues will be at the $11 billion mark.

So, what else can we expect from social advertising in the next 11 months?

More mobile
Toward the end of last year, YouTube revealed that 40 percent of its traffic came from mobile. Even more surprising? Seventy percent of Twitter’s revenue is from mobile. The bottom line is that more and more marketing is going to target mobile users.

Marketers have an insight into their audience just by knowing that they’re coming in from a mobile device. You know that whatever your ad looks like, it needs to be optimized for a smaller screen, appearing more concise and clear than on a laptop or PC. A mobile device is where a social ad really needs to blend in, or else users aren’t going to give it a second glance.

More partnerships
Social partnerships are where all the big brands are looking to strike gold. As an official partner or sponsor, you can reach the maximum amount of people with the support of the social network itself.

Verizon has been busy promoting its partnership between FiOS and the NFL during football season, but it has another partnership marketers should take a look at: Foursquare. Why is this partnership interesting? In the world of young social media users, Foursquare is pretty much a non-factor. But Verizon and Foursquare’s partnership revolutionized the platform — you can get deals when you check in at certain locations.

This is a good sign for Snapchat, which has the young user base coveted by marketers, even though many might think that Snapchat users would shy away from ads. Brands have already jumped on Snapchat to market — like Taco Bell, Acura, GrubHub and even the New Orleans Saints.

But aversion to ads could be overpowered if retailers were “snapping” deals along with advertisements — the approach seemed to work for Foursquare.

More videos
We’ve already seen video ads to varying degrees, and you can plan on seeing them a lot more as 2014 unfolds. Facebook is experimenting in the video ad space, and Instagram has already seen videos ads work.

As you might assume, a lot of people aren’t exactly warm to the idea of ads automatically playing in their newsfeeds. But despite that assumption, Instagram’s CEO Kevin Systrom said that it’s working. He said that more than 5 percent of the ads on Instagram led to “likes.” Although 5 percent doesn’t seem like a big statistic, according to Systrom, it’s a big win for advertisers.

Facebook is also likely to double down on video ads in 2014. Videos are going to be even more important now that Facebook has decided to shut down “Sponsored Stories” — ads that showed how your Facebook friends interacted with a sponsored page.

Video is Facebook’s plan for real growth — and it could even generate more than $1.1 billion in revenue, according to analyst Brian Nowak. So far, the roll out has been slow, but expect it to pick up later this year.

Marketers are always going to be going after youthful audiences on social media. If they can master the art of slick giveaways, meaningful mobile presences and engaging videos, they have a happy 2014 ahead of them.