How social media sites compare as advertising platforms

Below is a guide to how various popular social media sites compare as platforms for advertisers and marketers.

It presents some metrics commonly used by companies when looking at their advertising spending.

You can click on a pop-up version of these data in this story, which appeared in the April 29 2015 special report, The Connected Business, to see them in graphic form.


Facebook

Monthly active users: 1.393bn

Average cost of advertising — cost per impressions (CPM)*: $1.54

Percentage of users who log in daily: 70%

Percentage of platform users who are millennials: 75.6% (18-34-year-olds)

Pros: The biggest of the social networks, and the one with the most options for targeting.

Cons: Advertising is becoming more expensive.

Options and latest developments: Two options for ads: as a sponsored post in Facebook’s news stream, or on the right-hand column.

Allows advertisers to target users based on past purchases and demographics, even outside Facebook.

Rumoured to be creating a video hub to make it easier to find and view video content.


Twitter

Monthly active users: 288m

Average cost of advertising — cost per impressions (CPM)*: $12.16

Percentage of users who log in daily: 36%

Percentage of platform users who are millennials: 23.8% (18-34-year-olds)

Pros: People like to tweet while watching TV so advertisers are able to create “two-screen” campaigns combining TV and Twitter.

Cons: Because users do not need to use real names or reveal much about themselves, does not allow as much targeting as Facebook.

Options and latest developments: Three options for advertising: promoted tweets, promoted accounts and promoted trends.

Twitter ads can be targeted based on what users search for and what they reveal in their profiles.

Also allows targeting according to what users have done online, outside Twitter.


Instagram

Monthly active users: 300m

Average cost of advertising — cost per impressions (CPM)*: ?

Percentage of users who log in daily: 49%

Percentage of platform users who are millennials: 43.1 (18-34-year-olds)

Pros: Appeals to a younger generation who view Facebook as their parents’ social network.

Works well for brands that have strong visuals.

Cons: Only a limited number of brands allowed to advertise at the moment.

Lack of links on the site makes it hard to direct customers to products.

Options and latest developments: Launched advertising a year ago with selected partners.

Recently started allowing marketers to include links to their own products and websites from posts.


LinkedIn

Monthly active users: 187m

Average cost of advertising — cost per impressions (CPM)*: $27.90

Percentage of users who log in daily: 13%

Percentage of platform users who are millennials: 13% (15-34-year-olds)

Pros: Access to a professional audience with accurate information about people’s professional lives: people can be targeted by job title, employer, industry and even skills.

LinkedIn members have twice the buying power of the average web audience, according to Comscore.

Cons: Users do not log on to LinkedIn as often as other networks.

Options and latest developments: Two options: ads that appear in the sidebar, or sponsored updates that appear in the news feed.

Recently launched a tool similar to Facebook’s Atlas, which allows advertisers to target LinkedIn users outside the platform.


Pinterest

Monthly active users: 70m (of which 20m-30m are estimated to be active)

Average cost of advertising — cost per impressions (CPM)*: ?

Percentage of users who log in daily: 17%

Percentage of platform users who are millennials: 17.9% (18-34-year-olds)

Pros: Users come to the site in a mood receptive to shopping. Many are creating boards around life events such as weddings, childbirth and redecorating, which advertisers are keen to tap into.

Cons: Just one advertising format: Promoted Pins.

Options and latest developments: Reported to be planning to introduce a ‘buy’ button that would make it easier for users to make purchases directly from the platform.

Offers advertisers access to the ‘Pinstitute’, a programme that teaches users how to create successful ‘Pins’.


Snapchat

Monthly active users: 100m (could be close to 200m now but this is unconfirmed)

Average cost of advertising — cost per impressions (CPM)*: Adweek reported that advertising on a ‘my story’ could cost brands $750,000 a day. This is unconfirmed by Snapchat.

Percentage of users who log in daily: ?

Percentage of platform users who are millennials: 32.9% (18-34-year-olds)

Pros: Users are highly engaged, and need to actively press a button to view a story, so advertisers can be sure attention is not wavering.

Cons: Stories and associated ads disappear after hours. Ads are not shareable and there are no outbound links.

Options and latest developments: Advertisers sponsor ‘stories’, or collections of many people’s pictures, often around specific events.

Snapchat also recently launched Discover, where publishers such as the Daily Mail, Vice, Yahoo, CNN and ESPN display stories. Companies can buy ad space around this content.


YouTube

Monthly active users: 1bn

Average cost of advertising — cost per impressions (CPM)*: ?

Percentage of users who log in daily: ?

Percentage of platform users who are millennials: 82% (18-29-year-olds)

Pros: Holds users’ attention for a long time: they can spend hours watching videos.

A familiar advertising medium, very similar to creating material for TV.

Cons: Viewers do not like pre-roll adverts and often skip them. Brands cannot request a specific slot, so there is a risk the ad will be playing just before something unpleasant.

Options and latest developments: Four options: display ads next to or below the YouTube player; semi-transparent overlay ads that appear over the bottom 20 per cent of a video; skippable video ads that can be inserted before, in the middle or after a video and non-skippable ads that must be viewed before the video is shown.

Experimenting with a paid-for, ad-free service.


* CPM can vary greatly according to different campaigns. Figures should be considered indicative only.

Sources: eMarketer; InSites Consulting; Pew Research Centre; Maija Palmer; FT research

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