We asked the 200 participants what proportion of their marketing budget was spent on paid social advertising:
Nearly 45% of respondents spend between 0 – 25% of their marketing budget on paid social advertising, and nearly 70% of respondents spend less than 50% of their marketing budget in the channel.
Spending more than 50% of marketing budget in the paid social channel is relatively rare among the businesses that we surveyed – only 16% of our respondents fell into that ‘high social spenders’ category.
When we segmented our respondents according to their self-reported ability to successfully meet their objectives in the social advertising channel, we noticed that those who identified themselves a ‘high ability’ were more likely to spend more in the social ad channel than those who identified as ‘low ability’.
Segmenting respondents according to whether they manage social advertising in-house, or through an outsourced provider, revealed that those who manage activity in-house are more likely to spend less of their budget on social advertising, while those who use an outsourced vendor are more likely to spend more.
We asked participants to rate different channels by importance when looking to achieve their marketing goals:
Social had the highest average rating of strategic importance amongst our respondents, as well as the highest overall rating of ‘essential’ versus the other channels listed.
Predictably, the level of spend in the social channel impacts on the perceived strategic importance of the channel – respondents who spend more than 50% of their marketing budget on social advertising are more likely to view the channel as ‘essential’.
That effect is more marked when segmenting our data according to the self-reported ability of the respondent’s organisation to meet the opportunities presented by the social advertising channel – respondents who considered their business to have high ability in social media advertising also regarded social media advertising as more strategically important.
We then asked the participants how they perceived the results they had achieved through social advertising activity:
Our respondents overwhelmingly feel that social advertising is an effective channel, with nearly 80% of those surveyed stating that the channel delivered results that met or exceeded their expectations.
17% of those in the low spend group felt social activity exceeded their expectations – compared to 34% of those who are in the high spend group.
There is a better perception of results the more respondents spend on social advertising.
95% of those in the high ability group felt social advertising activity met or exceeded their expectations, compared to 66% of those who ranked their ability as low.
Those with a low ability to meet the opportunity have a low perception of the quality of results – with 25% feeling social fell below their expectations.
There are more in-housing respondents who find that results in the social channel meet or exceed their expectations compared to those who outsource.
It’s clear that social media is regarded, in the main, as a strategically important advertising channel. It’s also interesting to note that that ‘importance’ seems to be linked to a propensity to spend more in the channel.
Perhaps the most telling insight emerging from our data is this – that even advertisers who believe they cannot achieve good results from the social advertising channel still recognise its strategic importance: 82% of those advertisers who rated their organisation’s ability to maximise the social channel believe that it is a useful or essential channel for helping them to reach their strategic objectives.
This finding would suggest that for many marketers there is a frustrating gap between their perception of how important the social advertising channel is, and how able they feel to make the most of that opportunity.
Furthermore, and more shockingly, within that same group – low self-reported ability in the social advertising space – a significant number of advertisers are spending relatively large amounts of their marketing budget in a channel that they acknowledge they are ill-equipped to make the most of. In other words, investing in an area they doubt they can succeed in. This fact reinforces the idea that there is a skills gap in social advertising – that advertises know it’s important, and want to spend money in the area, but feel they are unable to drive successful results nonetheless.
We explore some of the potential reasons for that gap in our later section – “Obstacles to Success in Social Advertising”.