Social media is expected to be the mobile advertising medium of choice, and is predicted to take the lion’s share of mobile display budgets in 2014. This recent outlook is due to improved targeting and innovations in tracking and analytics. Mobile, specifically, has been the driver of major growth for companies like Facebook, which has effectively become a mobile company, with web ad business revenue in decline. Some of the unique features of mobile social media advertising include: native ads, which are indistinguishable from consumer generated content; hash tag marketing; abundant amount of user data; and business to business marketing. Recently, Twitter became the latest social media player to join the party, which has resurrected mobile display ads.  

Innovations in social media advertising have driven spending growth from $8 billion in 2012 to $16 billion in 2013, emphasizing the cost-per-action (CPA) business model. CPA yields sure-fire ROI results for advertisers compared to the cost-per-click (CPC) which provides an uncertain outlook on sales and the quality of users.

Facebook is leading the way in implementing the CPA method, using their platform to maximize effectiveness of ad campaigns. Twitter is not far behind; understanding that mobile social media display ads is the Achilles heel of the current king of mobile advertising: Google.

How can marketers utilize social media?

CPA – If your goal is a return on investment, begin a relationship with an ad network by aligning business objectives using a CPA model. Avoid CPC or other antiquated business models like CPM (cost-per impression). CPA is on the rise because it provides results that will drive business, not just create noise. However, if an advertiser is only looking for brand awareness rather than results, CPM might still be the most cost-effective way to get attention.

Targeting – Social media can offer a wealth of data to marketers to help target potential consumers and analyze who their actual consumers are. Social media provides a medium to hone in on consumers based on gender, age, location and other interests and provide the ability to break down audiences based on their specific interests. Campaign analytics, tracking, and monitoring campaigns not only allow advertisers to sell more but they also provide insightful data for creating a better product roadmap for the future.

Native Ad Formats– Banners and static ads are no longer enough to grab your audience’s attention and social networks have the perfect solution- native ads. Native ads allow advertisers to gain attention by providing content in the same format and context of the user’s experience, which has been proven to increase user engagement by over 50%. Marketers should test all formats supported by the network, including rich media ads and video ads.

The Viral Effect– Marketers should make ads “share worthy.” Social media platforms enable users to forward ads with a single click and some may go viral on a national and international scale. Never before has there been such a phenomenon that in just moments a product can be “shared” and take on the attention of the “world.” For example, Dove’s recent Father’s Day ad went viral as a result of using a compelling script and hash tag marketing, reaching over 10 million users in under a month.

Hash Tag Marketing– Hash tag marketing is unique to social media and is an effective tool for users to segment content for others to find. The value of hash tags is to further increase targeted keywords on social networks, segmenting content, which is why this trending technique of advertising has been a core strategic element of social media campaigns.

B2B Marketing – For most companies with active social media accounts, a third of advertising revenues stem via those accounts. The ability to launch effective B2B campaigns is a major advantage of social media and should be maximized.

The future is bright for mobile advertising and the opportunities are limitless. I was recently asked what my take on Google and Facebook now owning 73% of the mobile ad market with Twitter at a measly 3%. My answer was short – nothing that you can see today will be here in five years, everything is going to change. Brands that delve into mobile marketing today will be the leaders in five years when others who moved too slow will be struggling to catch up.