Social is poised to join search as the top two successful media for online advertising, and will command the majority of a marketer's ad budget. Need proof? Facebook crossed into the top 10 comScore Web properties for the first time in January 2011, with a 72.3% reach, ranking No. 4 and accounting for 153,020 million visitors. Want more? Nearly 1 in 4 online page views in the U.S. occurred on Facebook.com during the week ending Nov. 13, 2010 -- representing 24% of the total market share and accounting for almost four times the volume of YouTube.com, the No. 2-ranked Web site, according to Experian Hitwise.
Aside from analyst numbers, Google and Bing have begun to closely integrate social signals into search offerings, making it clear this trend will continue to rise rather than subside.
While search is considered intent-based advertising, social supports behavior or interest. Kenshoo CMO Aaron Goldman agrees that the consumer may not intend to do anything with that interest, but marketers don't have to guess the consumers' interest because he/she self-declared it by clicking the "like" button below a brand, product or service. Knowing someone's interest is the next-best thing to observing their intent, and that's why social marketing will become the next-most targeted or accurate form of advertising, especially as more social signals become embedded into search.
In January, Facebook debuted Sponsored Stories, a new form of ad targeting. Not the type that drops a cookie in a Web browser and then an ad network matches the information in the cookie with an advertisement -- but rather, targeting based on social signals and interests that identify behavior. Twitter's Promoted Tweets work similarly.
Marketers should not ignore the integration of social and search. A white paper published by Marin Software this month -- The Search Marketer's Guide to Successful Facebook Ads -- provides steps on executing social campaigns on Facebook.
Paid-search marketers have the skills to easily step into Facebook advertising strategy. Search marketers will want to start by thinking of Likes and Interests on Facebook as paid-search keywords. The narrowly targeted segments in Facebook closely resemble the targeted audience in search platforms from AdWords and adCenter, despite the differences in ad appearance such as display vs. text.
Marketers still need to understand their audience; use keywords to target (likes), Fans and Friends, segment audiences; track conversions; and other tactics that might seem as if the social campaign is more like a search campaign.
Marin makes a point of explaining that although Facebook users spend a significant amount of time online in the social network, they don't browse in a vacuum. Consumers exposed to a brand's social media content or campaigns are 50% more likely to click on paid-search ads and 1.7 times more likely to purchase through search.
Identify campaigns driving the most sales, buzz or interest. Monitor the ads and brands that are liked, commented and clicked. As marketers optimize Facebook Ads, analyze cross-channel performance, adjust messages and amount spent, similar to the way campaigns are run in search -- on the fly. Facebook and search audiences overlap, and it is critical that paid-search campaigns are optimized for the increased traffic driven by the social network, according to Marin's white paper.
Understand the path to conversion across channels. It will help manage attribution and budgeting campaigns. And then when ready to run Facebook ads alongside search campaigns, Clickable's latest release of Clickable Pro, the company's flagship bid management tool platform, now allows advertisers to create up to 8,000 ads at once.