American Marketer


Social ad budgets should be moved over to media teams: Forrester

August 14, 2015

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Paid advertising on social media has grown significantly, both in terms of budgets and in its importance to marketers, which is why a new report from Forrester recommends brands shift these dollars out of the hands of their social teams and toward media buyers.

The social teams at a majority of marketers are in control of the budget, even though paid advertising now accounts for 83 percent of marketers’ social spending, according to Forrester’s report, It’s Time To Separate “Social” From “Media." Those marketers who have shifted social paid advertising over to their media teams are typically seeing better results, as advertising increasingly requires a channel-agnostic approach.

"Media buyers are more comfortable than social teams with the ad models social sites sell and are also more likely to find good vendor support for their efforts,” said Nate Elliott, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, as well as co-author of the report. “The result: Media teams spend social ad dollars more wisely.

“If you want social ads to succeed, you must put this budget in the hands of your media buyers,” he said.

Social ad budgets grow

Forrester found that 29 percent of marketers have significantly increased their paid social media budgets in 2015 while 41 percent increased their budgets somewhat.

When it comes to managing their paid social advertising budgets, 54 percent park the money with their social team while 27 percent put it with the media team and 19 percent some other team such as search marketing.

However, brands that hand their social ad budgets to media teams are significantly more likely to succeed on YouTube and Twitter.

Media team advantage

Forrester recommends more marketers move social ad budgets over to a media team for a few reasons.

First of all, social networks’ ads sales pitches no longer promise relationships or engagement. Instead, they talk about remarketing, behavioral targeting and low cost-per-acquisition, traditional digital advertising attributes that media teams are more knowledgeable about.

Media teams also do a better job of partnering with external partners to get the expertise they need. Forrester found that 80 percent of social teams who control social ad budgets try to manage these programs in-house while 70 percent of media teams in charge of this money rely on the expertise of their external partners.

In terms of which social media platforms to embrace, more than 80 percent of avid social marketers buy Facebook ads and promoted posts, with 78 percent saying these deliver value.

Twitter comes in second, with more than 60 percent advertising here and just two-thirds saying their paid messages on Twitter provide value.

One-half advertise on YouTube and less than one-third do so on LinkedIn, with paid messages on both offering just as much value as those on Twitter.

Lagging behind are Instagram and Pinterest, with just 13 percent of avid social marketers having purchased Pinterest ads and only 14 percent have done so on Instagram.

While Forrester suggests that marketers mix their social ad budget in with their digital media budget, it may make sense to hold back about 5 percent of the budget for when the social team needs to get a message out to social media followers.

"Marketers can no longer afford to isolate pieces of their media buying in swim lanes,” said Richard Joyce, senior analyst at Forrester, and co-author of the report. "Media buying is quickly becoming channel-agnostic and dependent on technology to allocate budget effectively across audiences in real time.

“Keeping social ads budget with social teams creates inconsistency across audiences and fails to leverage real-time channel optimization technology,” he said.

Final Take

Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Marketer, New York