Growth across social networks was a defining feature throughout 2016. While the increase in mobile and media consumption made headlines, the underlying growth–spending on social advertising–will yield more change. A fourth-quarter report from data science and media technology provider 4C Insights examines the evolution in social advertising spending.
4C analyzed more than 900 brands and over $150 million in ad spending, and it found a 43 percent quarter-over-quarter increase and a 65 percent year-over-year gain in paid media spend. Spending on Facebook grew even more, with a 74 percent YoY increase.
On Instagram, which saw user numbers rise to more than 600 million last year, advertising spend soared 138 percent YoY. Clearly, advertisers see the value of meeting their audiences as they transition to more platforms and networks.
4C chief marketing officer Aaron Goldman told SocialTimes:
Q4 was a strong quarter across the board for social and mobile advertising. Each of the major platforms saw growth, and we see that momentum carrying into 2017. Brands continue to find new and innovative ways to leverage social media to connect with their audiences, and at 4C, we’re helping them do it at scale and connect across screens to TV, as well.
4C also began monitoring ad growth on Snapchat during the fourth quarter. The mobile messaging application has come into its own throughout 2016, and now its ad services seem to be delivering promising results, according to Ben Hovaness, group director for Resolution Media, who was quoted in the report:
In the first two months since the Snapchat launch, Resolution has seen promising early results. Apples-to-apples comparisons of CPMs (cost per thousand impressions)–same demographic targeting parameters and spend volumes–indicate a consistent 10 percent to 15 percent discount imparted to Snap
Facebook’s efforts to bolster its relationships with media and news organizations and journalists continued with Wednesday’s introduction of the Facebook Journalism Project.
Director of product Fidji Simo introduced Facebook Journalism Project in a Newsroom post, saying that the initiative has three objectives: collaborative development of news products for the social network, training and tools for journalists and training and tools for users.
Simo introduced Facebook Journalism Project as follows:
Facebook is a new kind of platform, and we want to do our part to enable people to have meaningful conversations, to be informed and to be connected to each other. We know that our community values sharing and discussing ideas and news, and as a part of our service, we care a great deal about making sure that a healthy news ecosystem and journalism can thrive.
That’s why today we’re announcing a new program to establish stronger ties between Facebook and the news industry. We will be collaborating with news organizations to develop products, learning from journalists about ways we can be a better partner and working with publishers and educators on how we can equip people with the knowledge they need to be informed readers in the digital age.
Simo wrote that collaborative development of news products will include new storytelling formats, a greater emphasis on local news and emerging business models, and the social network will host hackathons and regular meetings with publishing partners. Highlights follow:
While we’ve worked with our news partners on this in the past, as part of the Facebook Journalism Project we’ll begin an even deeper collaboration with news organizations across the spectrum, connecting our product and engineering teams so that we can build together from the early stages of the product development process.
We want to work with partners to
Rare and, as it turns out, short-lived playoff appearances for the Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders led those two National Football League clubs to the top spots in growth on Facebook and Twitter, respectively, during weeks 16 through 18 of the season.
Social marketing firm Unmetric analyzed all of the NFL teams on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram from Dec. 19 through Jan. 9—the last two weeks of the regular season and the first week of the playoffs–using its cross-channel reports, and it found that the Dallas Cowboys still topped Facebook in audience size, while the New England Patriots did the same on Twitter and Instagram.
Other findings by Unmetric included:
- The Cowboys also led in Instagram growth and Twitter engagement.
- The Kansas City Chiefs were tops in Facebook engagement, while the same was true for the Patriots on Instagram.
- The Raiders posted the most on Facebook during the time period studied by Unmetric, while the Green Bay Packers were the top tweets and the Dolphins were the most active club on Instagram.
- The Packers tallied the most Facebook likes during weeks 16 through 18 of the NFL season, while the Cowboys paced Twitter in terms of likes, and the Pittsburgh Steelers led Instagram.
- The Cowboys drew the most comments on Facebook and Twitter, while the Carolina Panthers topped Instagram in that category.
Readers: Is your favorite NFL team still alive in the postseason?
The answer to the long-asked question of how Facebook plans to monetize videos may be here, and users aren’t going to like it.
Sources told Peter Kafka of Recode the social network will begin testing a new mid-roll video ad format on videos posted by publishers.
According to Kafka, the mid-roll ads will appear after users have watched at least 20 seconds of publishers’ videos, and the social network and the publishers will share revenue from the ads, which will be sold by Facebook. Kafka pointed out that the arrangement is the same on YouTube.
Readers: How will Facebook users react to this?
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Business-to-business advertisers have long prioritized search-engine marketing as their primary digital path to new customers. With at least one study now showing social media to be a top marketing channel for B2B companies, it’s time for advertisers to re-examine their lead-generation mix.
Most will look at LinkedIn first because it operates the world’s largest professional network, with more than 467 million members in over 200 countries and territories. But guess what? For most B2B advertisers, we’re finding that Facebook generates exponentially more leads at a more efficient rate.
This means a lot of marketers–particularly smaller businesses–need to start prioritizing Facebook. Here are four reasons why:
- Scale: Facebook is substantially larger than LinkedIn–1.79 billion monthly active users versus 106 million. Facebook has the greatest share of business decision makers—60 percent versus 22 percent for LinkedIn at last count–and it’s the social platform that they spend the most time on. Both platforms allow targeting based on user’s job title, industry, education, age and location; so why not capitalize on the platform with larger scale and reach domestically and globally?
- No barrier to entry: Facebook gives advertisers large and small access to its entire suite of products and capabilities. With LinkedIn, higher-end products such as dynamic ads and account-based marketing carry a $25,000 minimum over each three-month period. That buys the help of a dedicated representative, but it’s too expensive for the majority of smaller businesses–especially advertisers new to the platform that haven’t had the chance to warm up to a long-term commitment.
- Leverage first-party data: Facebook’s custom audiences allow advertisers to upload customer-relationship-management data in order to match customer information to Facebook users. LinkedIn doesn’t offer this yet. Secondly, advertisers have the ability to retarget site visitors on Facebook given proper pixel placement, but not on LinkedIn. On Facebook,
Facebook will release its financial results for the fourth quarter of 2016 and the full year after market close Wednesday, Feb. 1.
The company will host a conference call to discuss the results at 2 p.m. PT/5 p.m. ET that day, which can be accessed via its investor relations page, along with the related press release, financial tables and slide presentation.
A replay of the call will be available via the investor relations page, as well as via telephone (for one week) at 404-537-3406 or 855-859-2056, conference ID No. 39092359.
Readers: What are your expectations for Facebook’s fourth-quarter-2016 and full-year-2016 financial results?
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Facebook has done it again–at least, it’s about to. The social media juggernaut is notorious for forward-thinking strategies such as acquiring Instagram and Oculus VR and launching live videostreaming. It’s never been the platform that rests on its laurels. Now, it stands at the forefront of a video revolution.
The explosion of Facebook Live hints at its potential for broadcasting major events and engaging viewers in ways standard channels struggle to do. Imagine online access to the Super Bowl streamed through a Facebook TV application that connects to users’ big screens.
Facebook can bypass not only traditional providers, but also services such as Netflix and Amazon, when it comes to widespread distribution and advertising opportunities.
The race for eyes and inventory
Facebook isn’t the only social platform in the live video race. Twitter competed aggressively with Facebook for the rights to stream Thursday Night Football in partnership with the National Football League, and such face-offs will occur more often as sports franchises re-evaluate their cable contracts.
Most are locked in through 2022 as a result of negotiations that happened in 2010 and 2011, when Facebook didn’t have video and Netflix was only testing digital streaming. The landscape was different then, but in a few years, I predict that social and streaming services will be in the mix for those agreements.
In the fragmented world of video consumption, sports viewership seems to be the only steady programming for the cable industry, as most entertainment and news content is available elsewhere. Companies such as Netflix and Amazon stand to gain considerably if they’re able to hook avid sports fans, in addition to viewers who subscribe for their licensed and original programming. A massive bidding war could erupt once NFL and Major League Baseball television contracts go
Until recently, social media platforms have needed to build and remain inside their walled gardens to avoid sharing their competitive intelligence.
However, Facebook’s recent announcement that it would collaborate with third parties to verify its viewing metrics signifies the inevitable and long-awaited validation phase of social media.
Facebook is poised to reap the benefits of opening insights up to third-party verifiers because it will be tapping into what I like to call “believable data.” The social network will have a far more insightful understanding of how brands can activate on its platform. With this move, Facebook is enabling brands to better activate and drive products and services through its channels.
Compared with traditional broadcast and print media, social media is still very much in its infancy, but it’s growing up quickly–poised to become the most significant marketing channel for brands that want to engage in a meaningful, measurable way. And it couldn’t come at a more critical time.
We’ve already witnessed National Football League fans consuming games and ancillary content in unprecedented numbers via mobile devices and social platforms, often at the expense of traditional live broadcasts.
Through the first quarter of the season, the NFL’s television ratings were down 11 percent from last year. However, according to MVPindex, the league’s overall social engagement during this same time period was up 20 percent from 2015. It’s not surprising, then, that the NFL launched a pilot with Twitter to livestream eight games.
This is a microcosm of what is happening across the sports industry. As more over-the-top networks come in and push out traditional advertising channels, teams and brands will need to find a home to market to and engage with their fans. And the more data that is shared, the more apparent it will become that
Facebook is allowing users in select countries to create custom profile picture frames that can be shared and used by other users, as well.
The social network launched its Camera Effects feature in Colombia, Mexico, Taiwan, the U.K. and Ireland, telling Sarah Perez of TechCrunch that it intends to further refine this feature, along with the in-application camera it began testing in Ireland in October, before rolling them out to other countries.
Frames designed via the Camera Effects feature must adhere to Facebook’s terms of service or they will be removed.
Facebook began allowing users to add custom frames to their profile pictures in 2015, starting with select college football teams and the National Basketball Association.
And pages got into the act earlier this year, as well.
The social network provided instructions for using the feature on the Camera Effects page:
- Make a frame in your favorite design tool. Create a PNG with a transparent background for each element.
- Upload your art to Facebook. Arrange each element on the canvas to compose your frame.
- Preview how your frame will look in different sizes. Photos and videos can be square, portrait and landscape.
- Fill out details about your frame. Then submit your frame for review, which typically takes up to a week.
- Once your frame is approved and active, people can add it to photos and videos they share on Facebook.
- See how your frame is doing with stats like the number of times people used your frame.
Readers: Would you like to see Facebook roll this feature out globally?
Facebook is testing an alternative to notifications for users who want to keep track of comment threads on posts.
Josh Constine of TechCrunch shared the screenshot below from Russell Smith, in which comment threads from Facebook posts are appearing alongside chat windows from messages at the bottom of the screen in the desktop version of the social network.
Facebook confirmed to Constine that it was testing the feature, saying:
We’ve heard from people that they would like an easier way to participate in conversations on a post while they are still in News Feed, so we are testing a new option that opens up a window when someone comments on your post, replies to your comment or tags you in a comment. You can always hide the conversation or turn off notifications from within the drop-down menu of the post.
Readers: What are your thoughts on this test by Facebook?
Image on homepage courtesy of Shutterstock Screenshot courtesy of Russell Smith via Josh Constine, TechCrunch.