5 Social Media Ad Networks

A fundamental tenet of customer acquisition is to not put all your eggs in one basket. After all, having one customer responsible for most of your sales puts you in a very precarious situation.

The same applies to your online ad spend. While one channel can, no doubt, drive the majority of conversions, it’s always good to have a few other sources of traffic. Basically, there are three incentives for running campaigns on a variety of networks:

  • First, you can reach new audiences, which might mean better targeting.
  • Second, running on many networks lets you target ads on a more niche-basis, which can offer lower costs-per-conversion.
  • Finally, you can get more out of each ad dollar by optimizing your ad campaigns on a network-by-network basis — i.e., you can determine which messages perform best with which audiences.

And, of course, when it comes to expanding online ad campaigns beyond Google Adwords, it’s hard to not consider different social media options. Here’s an overview of 5 of the larger social media options out there.

5 Social Ad Networks

The real value that social media offers advertisers is the ability to target ads with niche precision. Through social networks, users provide a wealth of data about themselves, including their interests, demographics, etc. Advertisers can then tap into these data sets and set-up campaigns which are targeted in a variety of ways. Let’s take a look at how some of the bigger social media ad networks let advertisers do this.

FACEBOOK ADS
Now, Facebook has been a media darling for both the mainstream media and media buyers. For instance, Facebook now accounts for 23% of all US ad impressions. More importantly, the average CPM on Facebook is well below industry standards, ranging from $2-$8, rather than the $15 that other premium media sites can charge.

One of the reasons that Facebook ads might be so cheap is because they are so targeted — i.e., you’re not paying for impressions you don’t want, so fewer of your ads go to waste. Advertising through Facebook Ads gives you the choice between buying ads on a CPM or CPC basis. You can target users with a variety of criteria, including age, location, gender, and education, as well as with targeted keywords. Facebook Ads are also text-based, have a maximum limit of 135 characters, and include a small image. Here are some tips on optimizing your Facebook ads.

LINKEDIN DIRECT ADS
LinkedIn offers an excellent platform for targeting business professionals. In fact, the LinkedIn network is particularly good for promoting B2B products.

Through LinkedIn Direct Ads, you can reach over 80 million professionals worldwide, and target them by criteria such as location, industry, job title, and company size. Advertisers may also choose between a CPC or CPM model.

You should be aware, however, that LinkedIn Direct Ads isn’t the most affordable network. For instance, CPMs in some categories can be as high as $50 or more. Also, even though rich media placements are available, they are restricted to advertisers with minimum budgets of $25,000.

STUMBLEUPON ADS
Through StumbleUpon, advertisers can target a pre-determined number of users by criteria such as personal interests, location, gender, and age. Essentially, StumbleUpon lets users discover new websites based on their own interests. Users hit a “stumble” button and are randomly shown sites that fall into a category of content they like. The user then gives the website a thumbs-up or -down, and an algorithm then tries to determine their personal taste. StumbleUpon allows advertisers to “buy” such stumbles for 5 cents apiece.

When advertising on StumbleUpon, though, you’ll want to make sure that you’re sending that traffic to a landing page that is appropriate for the targeted audience. If it’s not appropriate, enough users might vote it down so that you won’t end up getting your money’s worth in “stumbles.” To help you along in this task (and prevent you from spamming their users) StumbleUpon provides metrics on how many likes or dislikes your landing page received, as well as user reviews of that landing page. This way you can adjust campaigns to be more compatible with the StumbleUpon audience.

MYSPACE
Now, I don’t know if you remember, but MySpace recently relaunched as a music / entertainment-only hub. The point is that the site isn’t dead yet, and it still offers CPC banner advertising.

Through MySpace MyAds, you can “hyper-target” up to 15 million users. Hyper-targeting means that you use criteria such as gender, age, location, interests, hobbies, etc. Also, like Google Adwords, you can control your maximum bid. Finally, as part of the FOX Audience Network, MySpace MyAds also offers the option of taking your campaigns beyond MySpace and reach out to users on other Fox-owned sites.

SPONZAI
This is one of the several advertising products available from Izea, a social media marketing company. Sponzai differs from traditional media buying networks in that it lets you connect with a blogger’s audience by posting guest posts on their sites.

This is how it works: (1) you write a potential guest post, (2) you upload it to the Sponzai system and indicate how much you’re willing to pay to have it featured on a targeted blog, then (3) bloggers review your content and price, and decide whether or not they want to run your post.

The most interesting part about Sponzai is that you don’t just get the impressions, but the ability to actually interact with someone’s audience (as well as contextual backlinks).

Before You Jump Into Social Ads

All said, you have to remember that search marketing is an important first step of getting into online advertising since it can deliver sufficient volume to determine your average cost per conversion. Without that data, it can be hard to figure out whether a social media ad network is worth advertising on or calculate how much you should invest in a social media ad campaign.

But once you have the data you need to measure a campaign on a social ad network, you have to make sure that the network’s pricing model is compatible with your business model. Finally, once you go ahead with a social ad campaign, start by running a few small test campaigns before launching a fully comprehensive campaign across the network. This way, you can measure the value of the traffic and optimize your campaigns around that user-base before going all out.

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