Remember when search marketing companies first began to delve into services supporting campaigns on social sites? Now a slew of these agencies that got their start in direct-response advertising have made a play to turn social into the same type of media. Of course, Facebook and other social sites need to lead the way, but search marketers have developed the tools to support endeavors. Forrester Research caught that trend early and built a Social Wave report based on 45 criteria.
Forrester this week released the Forrester Wave: Social Advertising Platforms, Q4 2013 report that scores participating vendors and creates a short list of the most valuable tools. In the report, Forrester identifies and scores seven vendors in the social tools category based on 45 criteria. It's designed to help marketers select a technology partner to manage social advertising budgets on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and smaller platforms.
In Q3 2013, brands on average spent $512,000 per month on social sites -- the majority on Facebook, per Forrester.
Among the criteria to qualify for the evaluation, platform providers needed at least 80 clients running on the platform -- at least 50% of their active customer base, either by number of customers or revenue -- using the platform as a self-service, not managed service; and to have customers spending more than $50 million on social advertising through the vendor in the 12-month period ending July 1, 2013.
Forrester assessed how vendors performed across the range of social advertising platform tasks; examined the strength, experience, and vision of each company's executive team; and evaluated each based on the number and size of its clients and installations, revenue, and employee base.
While each platform provider excelled in a few areas, per Forrester, Kenshoo led with the highest evaluation score. Forrester cites a "strong core platform, integrations with other tools, and international capabilities. Salesforce, Marin Software, Unified, Shift, Optimal, and Nanigans follow.
Forrester describes Salesforce's social.com as the easiest platform to use, but said it has a few areas
of major weakness that would disqualify it from consideration for some marketers. Marin Software offers tight integration between its newer social offerings and its core business of search bid
management, which provides superior analytics, but the tools have not kept up with its advertising functions.
And while I trust the research from Forrester to provide an unbiased assessment, I would like to hear from brand marketers who actually use the products. Your thoughts?