Do ads on social Web sites work? That’s what AOL wanted to know. (And don’t we all?)
“It’s a question many have been trying to answer over the past several years, while the social media advertising industry continues to grow at an impressive clip,” said AOL in a blog about its recent study. “eMarketer estimates that spending on social media ads will hit $6.6 billion in the US this year, growing more than 46 percent from 2013.”
AOL acknowledged that there’s no dearth of consumer studies on the topic, not a few of which suggest that social advertising does not work. So the company conducted its own, dubbed “Myth-Busting Social Media Advertising.”
“But, what people say and what they actually do are very different,” noted AOL.
AOL used multi-touch attribution tech from Converto to try to “separate the facts from fiction.” Convertro, a leading attribution provider utilizes software which scientifically determines which media exposures influence a purchase and by how much. That kind of data is exactly what brands need to optimize media spend across advertising channels — not only social media, but all channels.
“Using this technology, we analyzed hundreds of millions of consumer interactions and across Convertro’s client base to uncover how social channels influenced sales conversions and to what extent,” explained AOL.
What was learned? For one thing, brands using Convertro saw around a 25 percent boost in conversions with paid social ads versus organic social content.
YouTube stood out in Convertro and AOL’s research as the most likely social media property by far to turn a prospect immediately into a customer—likely because video content like that hosted on YouTube can provide 100 percent of the information an online consumer requires to make a confident purchase decision.
Other notable findings:
1. SOCIAL MEDIA WORKS FOR BRANDS. Social provides significant impact on a customer’s path to purchase and strongly influences their buying decisions.
2. PAID SOCIAL PERFORMS. Paid social media advertising transforms the medium from an influencer tool into an effective upper and lower funnel solution that directly moves the needle on sales.
3. PAID ADVERTISING PERFORMANCE DIFFERS ON EACH SOCIAL NETWORK. Some social networks are more conducive to awareness vs. conversions.
4. THE VALUE OF SOCIAL DEPENDS ON PRODUCT VERTICAL. Social performance is not ubiquitous across all advertiser verticals—it varies by channel and product category.
To download the full AOL report, click here.