Some compelling visuals in this article. The first graph — a five-year forecast for total social ad spend — helps illustrate just how important this category of online advertising is projected to become. The main takeaway: in just five years, social media ad revenues are expected to hit $8.3 billion, up from just $2.1 billion in 2010.
However, I was struck by the projected disparity between display and non-display advertising. “Display ads” are what most of us think of when we think of advertising on the Internet — banners, rich media, 300x200s, etc. “Non-display ads,” on the other hand, are creative ad units such as the “promoted tweets” you see (and probably ignore) on your Twitter feed, as well as Facebook’s new “Sponsored Stories” initiative. Granted, according to the graph, non-display ad revenue is expected to grow at a faster rate, partly because the entire category is starting at $0. But the fact that revenue from non-display ads is still expected to comprise just tiny percentage of the overall social ad spend was very surprising to me, because I feel like I am always reading about the tremendous potential of non-display advertising. For example, Facebook’s Sponsored Stories have been shown to be 46% more effective than standard Facebook display ads, and Twitter is starting to see some great return on those Promoted Tweets. To me, non-display ads have much more engagement potential than this graph seems to predict.
One final note on this article: the second graph, which shows a “steady shift toward digital media,” is also very telling. While the dollars keep going up on the digital media side, they are not necessarily dropping off on the traditional media side. This tells me that while digital media advertising is becoming increasingly important, it will not necessarily supplant traditional media as a medium to throw ad dollars at.