19 December 2016 11:59:58 IST

Why the ad dollar is moving to social media

Social media and video are grabbing huge chunks of advertising from print

Where do you get your breaking news first these days? From Twitter? On Facebook? Through television? Or via WhatsApp? Whichever the media, it certainly isn’t the morning newspaper any more, right?

Is it any surprise, then, that global advertising spend on newspapers may be overtaken by their spend on social media?

Reports say…

According to Wan-Ifra’s World Press Trends for 2016, around 2.7 billion people read a newspaper in print daily. But print circulation grew only a miniscule 4.9 per cent globally from 2015 (the growth comes mainly from India and China, which compensated for negative growth elsewhere).

Compare this with the rise in social media users. In 2016, there were an estimated 2.5 billion active accounts worldwide, and the number is growing at 9 per cent every year. Advertising spend on this media is galloping along, growing at a whopping 55 per cent between 2015 and 2016.

According to Advertising Age , ad spend on social media grew to $10.9 billion, up from $7 billion in 2015. By contrast, the Wan-Ifra numbers show that, worldwide, print advertising declined 7.5 per cent the same year.

The break up

It was inevitable that the ad dollar would move online, and many newspapers are beefing up their digital presence. But a break-up of online ad spends shows that it’s the social and video ads that are mopping up a large chunk of digital ad revenues. Of course, the search to garner ads continues, but it’s the social space where a lot of ad dollars are being parked.

A recent Publicis-owned ad agency Zenith Optimedia’s Advertising Expenditure Forecasts says that ad spend on social media in 2019 will be worth $50.2 billion, compared with $50.7 billion for newspapers, and that by 2020, it will comfortably overtake newspapers. It estimates that just two platforms — Facebook and Twitter — will mop up 20 per cent of all internet advertising in 2019. Currently, they get 16 per cent of the same.

Explaining the ad shift

Interactive and Fast: Much of the reason for social media’s growing clout with advertisers is the interactivity the medium offers. Brands can instantly join in conversations and be a part of what everyone is talking about.

Look at the way so many advertisers — right from KitKat to Tata Coffee — rapidly tailored their social media campaigns to talk about demonetisation.

Content Strategy

Social media is also scoring with advertisers because of the way it is pulling in content from professional publishers. No longer is the content on social platforms user-generated alone. Today, platforms like Twitter and Facebook are sewing deals with publishers, and offering users everything, right from live telecasts of matches to instant articles. The other advantage that social media offers is targeted reach — it can deliver niche content to the most relevant users.

More tools for advertising

Most social networks today are getting aggressive in their ad approach, offering ingenious tools to advertisers. Gone are the days when brands would look only for organic growth on networking platforms. Today, social media platforms are offering paid marketing, with an aggressive pull strategy that encourages advertisers to open campaigns on social media first.

Look at the way Snapdeal launched its Unbox Zindagi campaign on Facebook before putting it on television and print media.

Of course, newspapers are fighting back. Most have strong digital properties and presence, but to capture the eye of the advertiser, they need to hone their social and video strategies.