Facebook remains dominant, as click-through rates and impressions increase yet again, according to a new report from Adobe.
Facebook is still the go-to social network for advertisers - and brands that work harder will see better results on the platform, according to an analysis by Adobe.
Adobe's Q1 2014 Social Intelligence Report, released today, found that Facebook's advertising business has continued double-digit growth, in terms of both impressions and click-through rates (CTR). Moreover, the social network saw no post-holiday dip, as its competitors did.
Facebook’s CTR grew 20 percent quarter-over-quarter (QoQ), while ad impressions grew 41 percent. Its revenue per visit (RPV) grew by 2 percent QoQ, while RPV of Twitter and Tumblr declined by 23 percent and 36 percent, respectively. Tumblr, which last quarter increased its revenue per visit by 340 percent, is still up 55 percent year-over-year (YoY), but down 36 percent QoQ.
"Facebook is becoming the consistently go-to network. The others saw seasonal declines that we expect, but Facebook has stayed consistent along the line of continued growth," says Joe Martin, senior analyst, Adobe Digital Index. He adds that Facebook's growth is especially impressive because it follows such a strong Q4.
In January, Facebook changed its algorithm to effectively lower the number of organic brand posts that show up in people's News Feeds. While Facebook's increase in paid advertising might be seen as the result of this new policy, Martin doesn't think that's the case.
He attributes Facebook's strong CTR growth to the fact that brands are getting better at producing engaging ads. In fact, they've had to step up their games in order to get back into the News Feeds. But this is good for brands, he points out. In fact, engagement on Facebook with brand posts grew 50 percent YoY, despite the demoting of organic posts.
Rich media in brand posts is more important for engagement than ever, Adobe found. Text posts as a share of all brand posts have dropped from 50 to 19 percent this quarter. "I think Facebook knows what it's doing in this," Martin says. "Everyone knows images are the most engaging, so they want brands to diversify their posts."
He noted that links in brand posts are up 167 percent QoQ, and this is a good strategy for brands, because links can entice consumers to engage even further on brand sites or landing pages.
Video plays are up 134 percent over last quarter. Engagement with video posts is up 25 percent year-over-year and 58 percent quarter-over-quarter, Adobe found. And that's not only because videos on Facebook now autoplay, according to Martin. "People are commenting, liking, and sharing more. It may be jarring sometimes to see it in your News Feed, but it does draw attention," he says.
If marketers continue to expand their Facebook advertising, they'll need to get even smarter about targeting, Martin says. They'll still have to compete and pay for the most desirable targeting, but they should also find different ways of reaching their target consumers, for example, by targeting consumers who are not actively looking for something but might be in the market for it, based on other attributes. He says that this strategy is "cheaper, produces higher conversion, and it's a better opportunity to get more bang with your buck."
Finally, Adobe's Q1 2014 Social Intelligence Report identified a new trend: Social Media Friday. In Q1, Fridays garnered 15.7 percent of all impressions, as well as the highest engagement rate with posts. Almost one-quarter of all video plays also occur on Fridays. As TGIF (Thank God It's Friday) makes its way toward sundown, Martin says, "People are tuning out of work and tuning into social media."
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Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.
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