4 Emerging Trends Defining Social Media Advertising Today

Opinion: Brands need to make a concerted effort to wrap their heads around this ever-growing landscape

Social advertising has grown exponentially in the past decade. This massive and constant growth causes significant operational inefficiencies, missed opportunities and clouded visibility. How do we address the issue of transparency plaguing the industry? Can brands really optimize across channels and teams? How do we make data actionable? These are just some of the biggest issues facing the social advertising industry today.

All in, when looking at all types of campaigns (mobile application install, conversion, video views, etc.), social budgets are expected to grow to $50 billion in 2017. This is an important figure to keep in mind, as it signals the continued explosive growth of social media advertising—and that it’s here to stay.

As long as numbers are climbing, brands need to make a concerted effort to wrap their heads around this ever-growing landscape in order to help us better grasp how advertising will evolve on social.

As a result of developing a platform and leading a team that has organized and indexed more than $1 billion of social investments for some of the world’s largest brands, I’ve been able to unearth four key insights that represent the current state and movement of the industry right now.

More people, more problems

At the end of the day, brands need to streamline teams in order to eliminate inefficiencies and inaccuracies. This has become even more critical because the number of individual teams (e.g. internal groups, partners and agencies) that touch a single campaign are at an all-time high. On average, we see more than six different companies touching a single social campaign, a number up 224 percent over the past 24 months.

As a result of this growth, our customers are realizing that there is a significant uptick in fragmentation and lost learnings without a data management platform to deliver the right business intelligence to all the players involved.

Already complex social advertising supply chains are becoming more elaborate

The complexity of social advertising is growing, showing a demand for connectivity. For example, let’s break down a global consumer-packaged-goods brand with tons of food and beverage sub-brands across its portfolio, as well as multiple agencies and partners coordinating to advertise across several social channels. Just imagine the sheer scale and complexity of such a supply chain, which further emphasizes the dire need for marketers to stay organized and solve for fragmentation.

Additionally, as supply chains grow in complexity, the opportunity for waste grows, as well. Brands are now starting to evaluate just what goes into their social advertising end-to-end and how to truly optimize the execution flow.

With greater customization efforts comes a greater number of campaigns

Another growing trend in social advertising is the hyper-personalization of campaigns, leading to a 184 percent increase in average campaigns per client year over year. Social is rather unique in that it is more conducive to deploying one-to-one or extremely personalized targeting that is much more challenging to achieve in other forms of digital advertising. As a result, you can begin to truly deliver the right message to the right people at the right time.

With this ability, however, comes a clear and marked increase in campaign volume. To harness this growing volume, brands need the ability to seamlessly connect and centralize all campaigns into one platform, giving them intelligence across their entire portfolio. Having investment analytics at any altitude is critical for social advertisers to make informed, intelligent decisions that actually impact return on investment.

Data ownership emerges as a key concern as exhaust increases

With the number of teams, supply chains and campaigns at levels that are three times the amount they were just one year ago, the data produced (i.e., data exhaust) by these factors has followed suit. As a result, brands that do not have total control over their growing number of ad accounts do not actually own their own data.

The scope of this challenge is daunting, making it mission-critical for marketers to centralize and aggregate. At the end of 2016, the average number of ad accounts per client was 52 (up 74 percent from the start of the year).

At the end of the day, the social advertising landscape and the corresponding amount of data generated is expanding at a greater rate than most marketers can make sense of. As this trend is expected to continue, it is critical for marketers to confidently own their data and leverage business intelligence to take command of and optimize the fastest-growing piece of their paid media mix.

Jason Beckerman is CEO of social intelligence platform Unified.

Image courtesy of sorbetto/iStock.