Big Brands Missing from Social Media Ad List in June

Social media sites are gaining steam fast with about everyone but big-brand advertisers, according to data for June released yesterday by comScore.

The study showed that social networking sites accounted for more than 20 percent of all display ads viewed online, with MySpace and Facebook combining for roughly 80 percent of ads among sites in the category.

MySpace received a 9.2 percent share of all display ads, while Facebook came in at 8.2 percent. and both had less than 1 percent of a share, coming in a distant third and fourth, while a handful of sites picked up the remaining slivers of the pie.

Meanwhile, AT&T leapfrogged Experian Interactive to easily rank as the number one advertiser when it came to impressions on social networking sites during June. The telecom giant racked up 2 billion impressions while pushing free phones during the month, revealing a big increase compared to the 1.37 billion comScore measured in May. Then, it ranked second behind Experian Interactive (1.38 billion impressions). Social networking sites made up 30 percent of AT&T’s total display ads in June, putting its ads in front of about 89 million unique visitors.

Andrew Lipsman, director of industry analysis at comScore, commented that other large companies do not appear to be following AT&T’s lead into the social networking space. “One thing I think is interesting is what we don’t see in the data, and that is that some very big brand advertisers appear to be virtually ignoring social networking sites as an advertising channel,” he said.

“This could be the result of the long-held obsession with using clicks to measure ad effectiveness [since] social networking sites have notoriously low click-through rates. But large brand advertisers should be looking at different metrics to evaluate advertising effectiveness online, since brand-building ads can be very effective without user engagement or clicks. The ad exposures themselves have value. I would expect that once this addiction to clicks is broken, more of the major brand advertisers will utilize this channel more effectively.”

To be fair, many brand advertisers are present in social media environments, just not through standard ad units served through networks feeding ads to social sites like MySpace.

For June, Experian Interactive ranked second with 1.2 billion impressions in the social networking ad impressions category, while delivering a slew of promos for educational degree programs and credit scores. The Ask Network (950 million) and Sprint Nextel (790 million) came in third and fourth, respectively.

ComScore also found that two of the top 10 advertisers on social networking sites in June placed nearly all of their impressions within the category. Pangea Media, which offers quizzes, delivered 90 percent of its ads on social networking sites, while online gaming brand Zynga placed 97 percent of its ads on these sites.

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