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Finding the right social media advertising partner is impossible without a close understanding of the concept. Agencies love knowledgeable clients who can understand the context behind the tactics they run on an everyday basis. This history of social media advertising can help you get started in getting to that point.
First, of course, we have to understand exactly what social media ads actually means. From there, let’s take a deep dive into the history of paid social, and how it affects the campaigns you can run and partner on today.
At first sight, it’s obvious. Anytime you pay money to show your content to your audience, you’re engaging in social media advertising. Dig deeper, and the nuances become more clear.
First, the targeting opportunities. Companies who advertise on social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter are able to focus their audience based on factors like interests, geographic locations, and demographics. Through third-party partnerships, potential targeting even includes recent locations visited and purchases made. Retargeting recent web visitors is another opportunity. Finally, tools like Facebook’s custom audiences allow advertisers to upload lists and have the channel match email addresses with social profiles.
Second, the differences to other digital advertising opportunities. Unlike search ads (commonly known as PPC), social media advertising is not keyword-based or text-reliant. Most social ads show up natively in newsfeeds, whether it be on LinkedIn or Instagram. You don’t have to know or research your audience’s search behavior, and can leverage powerful messages to make your point.
Within that larger context, social media ads consist of three major types to consider:
Best for general brand awareness without a defined action step, CPM ads charge your budget anytime a member of your audience sees it. This is the oldest type of social media ad, and also the most difficult to measure. Because cost is not linked to performance, you can potentially get great runtime out of successful ads on a limited budget.
CPC is the most popular type of ad, and also the most similar to other digital opportunities. Your budget gets charged only when someone who sees your message is actually interested enough to click on it. This link to performance is crucial if you’re looking to drive website visitors or most other kinds of action. Bidding is automatic, making it best for companies new to Facebook marketing.
Finally, some networks (like Facebook) offer advertisers the opportunity to bid on ad space based on the action they want to get out of the ad, which is most commonly lead conversions. This is the most advanced, and also most recent type of payment mechanism on social media. Only advanced marketers should engage in it, as ads are complex to set up and manage.
With a basic understanding of social media advertising out of the way, let’s take a closer look to how we got to where we are today. A number of major events have influenced what is set to become a $51 billion industry this year.
2005 – Facebook, founded two years prior, announces its first ads on the network. The ads are called ‘Facebook Fliers’, and allow companies to target users based on the specific school .edu email address with which they signed up for an account on the platform.
2006 – LinkedIn, a new professional network with just over 6 million users at this point, announces its first ads. The ads are text-based and live in the dead space on the side of the actual user interface.
2007 – Facebook launches social media’s first self-service ad platform. Although it has been revamped multiple times since, the Ads Manager has become a model for all social media networks in allowing marketers to set up and manage their own ads on a daily basis.
2010 – Twitter launches promoted tweets, the first truly native advertising experience on social media. Today, all social media networks allow advertisers to place their messaging within the newsfeed, maximizing exposure and integrating the ads into organic content that targeted users see every day.
2010 – Facebook surpasses $1 billion in advertising revenue, two years after the company first turned a profit in 2009. The network remains the most profitable social media channel around the world, with revenues surpassing $40 billion worldwide last year.
2011 – Facebook announces ‘sponsored stories’, native ads that function similarly to Twitter’s sponsored tweets. This trend is common throughout social media ad history: another company innovates, and Facebook (the largest player in the game) modifies the idea to even greater success.
2012 – Facebook launches mobile ads, acknowledging the inevitable: the modern social media user far prefers their phone over desktop computers for a smoother experience.
2012 – Facebook purchases Instagram, offering advertisers the opportunity to reach even more users on varied networks with a single setup in Ads Manager.
2013 – Instagram and Pinterest both launch sponsored newsfeed ads that rival those of Twitter and Facebook. The native ad experience today is a core part of social media experiences around the globe.
2014 – Video views on Facebook surpass 1 billion per day, and the network announces autoplay video ads the same year. Most experts expect video to become the dominant form of social media content in the near future.
2015 – LinkedIn and Facebook both announce native lead ads. Through these ads, marketers are no longer required to push audiences to their website for form conversions. Instead, users can fill out a sign up form directly from the platform, and links are delivered straight to participating CRMs.
2016 – Instagram and Snapchat announce promoted stories, taking advantage of a new instant content trend that is sweeping the various channels. Instagram surpasses Snapchat in total active users.
Through these and many other milestones, we have gotten where we are today: with social media as a major player in the digital advertising and marketing landscape. Any comprehensive marketing strategy in 2018 and beyond has to include this component on some level.
Of course, knowing the history of the medium is only the beginning. You also have to make sure that you can actually leverage the various features and opportunities to their fullest. Contact us to get started connecting with the right paid social media companies for your business