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More marketers plan to increase budgets for Twitter than for Facebook: Survey

MUMBAI: Advertisers are flirting more with paid ad offerings from Facebook and Twitter, but it’s a cautious courtship. Even as brands boost their social media spend, only a relatively small portion of it is going to ads, according to a new survey of Ad Age readers.

In May, AdAge and RBC Capital Markets jointly conducted their fifth major survey of marketer attitudes to social media. The survey polled 1,682 executives of marketing, agency and media companies for their opinions on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, which was included for the first time. The number of responses varied for each question.

Marketers reported spending slightly more in digital and social media channels than prior surveys. But that spending continues to be a relatively small slice of the overall marketing budgets.

A little less than half of respondents—45 per cent—said they spend 1–10 per cent of their overall marketing budgets on social media, while 38 per cent said they spend more than 30 per cent on social. In a survey of Ad Age readers published in September, only 29 per cent of marketers said spending on social was more than 30 per cent.

Advertisers largely see social media advertising as a branding channel. Asked to rank their goals for social, 39 per cent of respondents listed ‘building awareness and sentiment for my brand’ as the top priority. ‘Driving traffic to my website’ was a distant second, with 16 per cent citing it as their top priority.

Around 84 per cent of respondents reported using Facebook, making it the dominant social platform. In addition, Facebook commands a greater share of digital budgets than Twitter and YouTube.

In the fall, the influence of ‘organic reach’ on Facebook started to decline dramatically, upsetting marketers who had spent time and effort building up fans on the social platform. To Facebook’s benefit, it may have helped steer brands toward paid ads. In the most recent survey, 83 per cent said they had paid for ads on Facebook, up from around 70% in the September poll.

But as marketers plan for the coming year, they appear to be looking more at Twitter.

Nearly half of the respondents—44 per cent—said they had increased their spending on Twitter over the past six months and 63 per cent said they planned to do so over the next year. By comparison, 59 per cent said that they expect to spend more on Facebook. And more marketers surveyed said they plan to decrease spending on Facebook (11 per cent) than on Twitter (seven per cent).

Marketers found that both Facebook and Twitter offer more compelling mobile products than desktop.

Some 36 per cent of respondents said the ROI on Facebook’s mobile-ads was ‘much greater’ or ‘somewhat greater’ than its desktop offering; 26 per cent felt that desktop proved better. For Twitter, 44 per cent claimed it offered better ROI on mobile than desktop. Very few respondents (8.6 per cent) felt that returns on Twitter’s desktop products were greater.

In the first quarter, Facebook netted 59 per cent of its ad revenue on mobile, while Twitter’s total was 80 per cent.

Ad Age readers are increasingly experimenting with Twitter’s ad products, too. Less than half of respondents polled in November said they spent any of their Twitter budget on ads. Now, around 73 per cent of marketers reported using Twitter’s ad products.

Promoted tweets are still the favoured tool. The format was used by 79 per cent of respondents, more than the other three offerings—promoted trends, accounts or an ‘Amplify’ TV deal—combined.

Still, marketers spend relatively little on the products. More than half the respondents (65 per cent) reported spending less than 10 per cent or none of their Twitter budgets on paid ads. Their dollars mostly go to managing accounts, not Twitter’s bottom line.

With ‘Amplify,’ which launched in May 2013, Twitter is trying to promote its relevance as a supplementary ‘second screen’ for TV marketers. Facebook is making a similar pitch, but advertisers aren’t diving into it either. Only 12 per cent of respondents said they used Facebook and Twitter in conjunction with a TV campaign. And just seven per cent said that they were considering doing so.

Google comes out as favoured winner for ROI. Respondents ranked the search giant as the best ad platform for ROI, and its video channel, YouTube, fell fourth behind Facebook and Twitter.

Slightly more than half of respondents reported using YouTube as a marketing channel, although very few marketers allocated significant portions of their digital budgets to the platform: 30 per cent of those using YouTube reported zero spending on its ads.

However, 54 per cent of respondents said they expect their YouTube ad budget to increase over the coming year.