The future of Social Media Advertising looks like it will continue to be increasingly “native” in 2012. Social communities and online publishers expand their advertising offerings while striving to maintain a consistent audience and community experience. Digital Media Buyers with deep display advertising experience now need to learn and understand this new approach.

Native Social Media advertising is the inclusion of Advertising in the user-experience of a social media platform. Ads are integrated into the same look and feel of the audience experience. Unlike a banner or display advertising, a native advertisement may be indistinguishable from other user-generated content.

Below we identify all the current native social media advertising opportunities available to Media Buyers and Media Planners on the leading social networks.

Platform Offering Description Metric/Cost
Facebook Sponsored or Featured stories Highlight News Feed stories about specific interactions people have had with your organization or brand as “Sponsored Stories,” Cost Per Click
Twitter Promoted Tweets in Timelines Keyword-targeted and sponsored tweets that show up at the top of a user’s timeline Cost Per Engagement
Twitter Promoted Tweets in Search Keyword-targeted and sponsored search results using tweets of brands already published Cost Per Engagement
Twitter Promoted Accounts Featured placement in the Who-To-Follow section of Twitter’s web page Cost per Follow
Twitter Promoted Trends Sponsored trends listed in the Trend section of Twitter’s Home Page Flat Fee
Foursquare Custom Badges Special badges purchased by brands to be awarded to Foursquare users Flat Fee
Reddit Targeted Links Sponsored posts that appear at the top of the targeted sub-reddit Cost Per Impression


Source: Grovo Blog

Measurement of the effectiveness of these new advertising units is nascent.  TBG Digital, which collaborates with customers, to build advertising campaigns on Facebook has produced a report sharing some metrics on effectiveness.  Below are comparisons of sponsored story CTR against the Standard Facebook ASU.

Source: TBG Digital

Facebook’s new Sponsored Stories ad units received a 46% higher click through rate, a 20% lower cost per click, and an 18% lower cost per fan than Facebook’s standard ad units.” TBG Digital

They key to understanding native Social Media advertising comes down to three key elements:

  • Native Social Media ads may sometimes be indistinguishable from other user-generated content, allowing frictionless interaction by the community.
  • Advertising targeting is substantially more analytical than traditional display advertising.  Promoted content will usually only appear around relevant keywords or community user actions.
  • Costs are usually based on social media activity or engagement with the advertising content vs. traditional display pricing.

Although Facebook and Twitter are best known for their promoted advertising, a number of other platforms including reddit, WordPress and rapidly growing social networks are building out their promoted advertising solutions.

Would you like to learn more about the emerging native, social media advertising opportunities? Please send us a note at or contact us. We’d love to hear from you and share other case studies and lessons.

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