First-quarter earnings reports from companies including Facebook, LinkedIn and Yelp this week highlighted the growing role that mobile plays in social networking and other online companies as their users are increasingly accessing their services from devices rather than the desktop.
Facebook reported that 30% of its advertising revenue is now coming from mobile, up from almost virtually nothing a year ago. LinkedIn, meanwhile, is getting 30% of its traffic from the mobile side and ramping up mobile advertising to capitalize on that growth. Similarly, more than a third (36%) of Yelp's ad impressions are coming from mobile devices.
The rise of mobile social advertising reflects that marketers are warming to the kind of engagement that social media delivers in the mobile sphere, according to a new Yankee Group report, “Mobile Social Advertising Fights To Win Over CMOs."
Jason Armitage, author of the study and a principal analyst at the research firm, argues that the surge in mobile social usage in the last year has helped CMOs overcome their concerns with social advertising.
The report cites data showing that 59% of smartphone owners used social networks at least once a week, while average time spent on social properties among smartphone users was 64 minutes, at the end of 2012. Facebook alone counts 751 million active mobile users globally, and its recent release of Facebook Home underscores its aim to play an even more central role in users' mobile lives.
All that activity is driving brands across major verticals to follow the lead of retailers in using mobile social advertising to drive brand awareness and specific promotions. CMOs are also reorganizing operations to respond more quickly to events and be more flexible on measurement.
The speed with which Audi, Nabisco and other brands tweeted during the Super Bowl XLVII power outage indicates their understanding of the need for rapid communication. We have witnessed the co-opting of Facebook and Twitter to support mobile advertisers from all major verticals,” noted Armitage.
Still, he points out that mobile social ads do not yet offer the scale of a truly mass media like TV, despite claims by companies such as Facebook. That’s in part because social platforms still are not a good way to reach people over 50. The report shows that only 31% of those 55 and over access social networks on a smartphone at least once a week, compared to 75% of those 13-19.
That's significant for the traditional big advertisers in Web and TV advertising that count on older consumers spending on premium products and services,” according to Armitage. The study predicts that social will become one of mobile advertising's most effective tools as formats evolve, although it will take time for brands to develop internal tracking systems. Even so, Yankee Group recommends that brands take advantage of social media’s ability to reach customers on the go.
Among technology providers, the report calls for creation of a single dashboard to manage multiple social networks. “Companies such as Adobe and Kenshoo should aim to bridge the divide between social networks to provide unified management and measurement across a wide reach,” it states. Tech providers should also help brands prepare for the shift to video in content marketing.