Gaining positive ROI from social media activity may have represented one of marketing’s toughest asks, but Australian brands appear to be offering a lesson in how this can be done.

Stats listed in the annual ‘Australian Online General and Mobile Advertising Market 2014’ report from Frost and Sullivan show that nearly three quarters (73%) of advertisers in the country are recording a steady return off the back of their campaigns on the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Google+. 

Posting updates on the aforementioned networks comes free of charge. However, the sheer influx of brands on social channels has led to the necessity of paid-for ad options such as Facebook’s sponsored posts for helping a message get heard. 

Tracking social ROI is another issue that brands have been forced to grasp, but readings from Frost & Sullivan show that social marketing in Australia is in fact distancing itself from the less measurable channels and earning its keep as a cost-effective platform. 

A need for results

The figures state that general expenditure on online advertising will rise from A$1.15 billion in 2014 up to A$2.42 billion in 2018, driven by a need for brands to gain a return on their marketing investment. Signs of this being the case were evident in the growth by channel for this year.

“The slowest growing category was EDM/e-newsletters, which actually saw negative growth during 2013/14, as companies move towards more cost-effective online advertising solutions with a higher return on investment,” commented Phil Harpur, senior research manager for Frost & Sullivan in Australia & New Zealand.

Another highly measurable and cost-effective channel that Australian firms are starting to pursue is affiliate marketing. Harpur sees publishers being key drivers of revenue driver for companies operating in some of the country’s biggest industries.

“Sponsorships, integrated site content and in particular native advertising grew as online publishers increased their range of offerings. Also the affiliate online advertising market continues to grow strongly, especially in the online retail, finance and travel segments.”

The need for performance among brands in Australia has grown in tandem with developments in technology for measuring ROI.

Earlier this year, PerformanceIN spoke with a number of Australian ad networks, agencies and tech providers about the health of their industry. It was claimed that “nimble, tech-savvy” publishers are getting up to speed with their counterparts in the US, UK and other key European nations, allowing advertisers to implement much stricter performance methodologies.   

Similar trends

As with most countries, Australia has also witnessed a growing level of agency and brand interest in mobile advertising. 

Researchers at Frost & Sullivan claimed that publishers are looking to cater for this demand by focusing on more mobile-friendly forms of content. Their advertising solutions are also increasingly moving in-house, which could improve the speed at which they tweak their inventory to capitalise on the need for mobile options.

While their current strategies are very much geared towards reaching to smartphone users, by 2019 the report backs tablets to account for over 70% of all spend in the mobile ad market. 

Harpur also backs native ad solutions, across all devices, to help the country’s total online marketing spend reach A$9 billion in five years’ time.