Take Facebook, for instance. Because of changes to the News Feed and increased targeting capabilities through the Facebook Exchange, click-through rates were up 275% year-over-year, according to Adobe Digital Index’s Social Intelligence Report. The report measured 13 months’ worth of (anonymous) data beginning in Q3 2012 on 400 million unique visitors to social networking sites, based on 5,000 companies that use Adobe Marketing Cloud products.
“Facebook ROI is up 58% year over year, so advertisers are thinking, 'If Facebook is working for me, I’m going to keep putting money into it,'” said Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst for Adobe Digital Index. “As far as impressions growth goes, Facebook has done a great job of increasing the volume of inventory they have available to sell – it’s up 85% year over year. The click volume is up almost 30%, which means people are interacting with ads that they’re seeing to a greater degree.”
A testament to what Gaffney calls Facebook’s move to become a more “marketing-friendly media site,” CPC rates have come down 40% as more marketers realize the cost benefit of switching to a to a cost-per-thousand (CPM) structure. This is good news for Facebook, Gaffney says, which should be able to maintain a more predictable earnings revenue stream and do a better job of managing inventory.
Entering Q4, “we think there will be even better news as more new advertisers in the retail space come into paid social,” Gaffney said. “Last year, cost-per-click rates went up 42% during the holidays and so the demand for CPC amongst retailers may increase in Q4 and may reverse that downward trend we’ve seen.”
Another key point on retail marketers’ minds is driving referral traffic to brand sites through social networks. For Twitter and Pinterest, the picture is especially sunny.
Although Facebook drove the most referrals out of any social network, its traction slowed a bit, with only 57% of the share of social-referred visits to retail sites this quarter from the 77% in 2012. Conversely, Twitter referred 258% more traffic to retail sites than it did last year, while Pinterest drove 84% more traffic.
“One of the things that’s fascinating about Pinterest is I didn’t really think there was room between Facebook and Twitter for another social media network to take any real amount of audience, but Pinterest is referring more traffic to retailers than Twitter, YouTube and Reddit combined,” Gaffney said. “It’s becoming a real factor in social media and paid media” as the platform slowly rolls out promoted pins and helps marketers reactivate purchase intent with product price-drop notifications.
When it comes to driving revenue per visitor, Twitter saw the strongest growth, a helpful data point in the run up to its IPO. Measuring both first- and last-click attribution, Adobe Digital Index found Twitter’s average RPV grew from $.11 to $.44 in Q3 year over year. Pinterest’s increased from $.22 to $.55 and Facebook, still generating the most RPV with an average of $.93 per visitor, increased from $.67 in 2012.
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