Social network advertising, also social media targeting, is a group of terms that are used to describe forms of online advertising that focus on social networking services. One of the significant benefits of this type of advertising is that advertisers can take advantage of the users’ demographic information and target their ads appropriately.
Social media targeting combines current targeting options (such as geotargeting, behavioral targeting, socio-psychographic targeting, etc.), to make detailed target group identification possible. With social media targeting, advertisements distributed to users based on information gathered from target group profiles.
Social network advertising is not necessarily the same as social media targeting. Social media targeting is a method of optimizing social media advertising by using profile data to deliver advertisements directly to individual users. Social media targeting refers to the process of matching social network users to target groups that have been specified by the advertiser.
People who use social networking sites get their various information about themselves, including their age, gender, interests, and location stored on the servers of the social media companies. This stored information allows advertisers to create specific target groups and individualize their advertisements. The advantage for advertisers is that their ads can reach people who are interested in the product or service. The benefit for users is that they can see advertisements that appeal to them.
Facebook, the hugely popular social network, has developed a targeting technology that allows advertisements to reach a specific audience. This is within the Facebook product called Facebook Ads, which is available to users and businesses alike. When posting an ad through the Facebook Ad Manager, an advertiser is provided with a set of characteristics that will define his target market. Facebook calls this audience targeting. These traits include geographical location, gender, age, work, relationship status, and interests such as music, among others. Facebook claims that advertisers can even customize their target audience based on their behavior, such as purchasing patterns, device usage, and other activities. This is why Facebook users see advertisements on their profile page that are relevant to their preferences and their interests. This allows the ads to be less intrusive and more successful in achieving their goals. The advertisement algorithm is also capable of monitoring performance so that advertisers or Facebook marketers can modify their audience as well as the nature, budget, and duration of the ads based on its performance.
Within social communities users provide demographic information, interests, and images. This information is accessed by social media targeting software and enables advertisers to create display ads with characteristics that match those of social network users. The critical component of social media targeting is the provision of the users’ socio-demographic and interest information. By using this information, social media targeting makes it possible for users to see advertisements that might actually interest them. The availability of user data allows for detailed analysis and reporting, which is a big part of social media targeting and what makes it more effective than statistical projections alone.
About three-quarters of Internet users are members of at least one social network. 49% of U.S. adult women visit social media sites a few times a day, whereas only 34% of men visit them. The fastest-growing age group on Twitter is 55- to 64-year-olds, up 79% since 2012. And the 45-54 age group is the fastest-growing on Facebook and Google+. Social media use is still more common among the 89% of Internet users aged 18–29, versus 43% of those 65 and older.
Types of advertising
Popular social media sites, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, offer different ways to advertise brands. Facebook gives advertisers options such as promoted posts, sponsored stories, page post ads, Facebook object (like) ads, and external website (standard) ads. To advertise on Twitter, there are promoter tweets, trends, and promoted accounts that show up on user’s newsfeeds. For advertising on YouTube, there are branded channels, supported videos, and video advertising.
In July 2015, during their Q2 earnings call, Facebook revealed that it achieved $2.9B in mobile revenue, amounting to over 76% of its overall quarterly revenue. A large portion of this revenue was from app install ads, of which developers buy on a Cost per Install basis.
Another type of advertising is using a tool called “buy buttons.” Some networks are already getting involved with “buy buttons’, or being direct marketers for various products a business wishes to promote on their social media platform. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter are already involved with such partnerships, and this is still just the beginning. The “buy button” is the gateway to impulsive online shopping. For example, Amazon has its version of the “buy button.” These advertisements pop up in the news feed of social media interfaces and also give you the option to click a button and purchase the item right then and there. These account for just under 2% of online sales.
Advertisers can reach users who are interested in their products
Allows for detailed analysis and reporting (including business intelligence)
The information gathered is real, not from statistical projections.