How Social Media Has Changed Advertising Forever


Wherever the consumers end up, the advertisers will soon follow, and the digital world is no different. Over the past few years the majority of consumer’s attention has been focused on the various social media platforms.

Nearly every business has been affected by social media’s rise, but none more than the advertising industry. In the early 2000’s social media began as a space for people to connect and socialise, and has grown to become an ideal landscape for advertisers enabling them to reach bigger audience than ever imagined.

ball shaped blur close up focus

When social media advertising first stepped on to the scene, marketers were using it to simply connect with their audiences by capitalising on posting and engagement capabilities at the click of a button.

Trouble is, today’s marketers have been forced to adapt the more traditional advertising methods to keep up with ever-changing consumer behaviour and technological trends. Never fear, social media is here to stay (sighs of relief all around), and akin to Darwin’s theory of evolution, marketers are forced to adapt or risk dying out…

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change”Charles Darwin

But what are the main factors shifting the focus towards social media?

MDG Advertising recently updated social media stats concerning approaches towards social media to match 2018 figures. The following is our view of the influencing factors mentioned (full infographic included at the end):

What Are The Most Popular Social Platforms?

Clearly humans are visual creatures with YouTube being the highest; a whopping 73% of adults spend their screen time on the video site. In second place is the ‘do-it-all’ social giant Facebook, with 68% of consumer’s time spent on the platform.

Other sites in the survey include Instagram (35%), Pinterest (29%), Snapchat (27%), and LinkedIn (25%). Sorry Twitter, but your currently in last place with only 24% of consumers time being spent on the micro-blogging site.

How Is Your Time Spent Online?

According to the survey, Americans spend an average of 23.6 hours online every single week, with the majority of that spent on social media accounts.

Most people don’t remember the first ‘social media’ platform in 1997, but since it’s inception there have been many phases of social networks emerging, and today the social media realm is ruled by consumers. Brands and marketers are welcome, but hard sales pitch must be abolished completely if they are to succeed.

As consumers, we want everything to be accessible, and we want it on demand.

A conversational, friendly brand voice tends to resonate with social media users who want brands to be more accessible than ever before (especially if they have a customer service problem).

Because of the consumer shift from TV to social media, most brands are upping their attention and budget spend on social. Just over 1/3 of consumers spend their online time using social media, although with video still being top of the class for value to consumers, music, news and video-streaming platforms still see a steady flow of visitors daily.

Should You Change Your Ad Spend Priorities?

Similar to the invention of the internet, consumers have taken a few years to shift over from traditional channels toward the digital channels, but it seems the digital world has begun to take over. When you compare the total ad spend of the U.S. from 2014 to 2018, the dramatic shift is clear.

In 2018, brands have decided to devote 33% of ad spend to digital platforms (up from 25% in 2014), and as expected, TV ad spend is decreasing slightly. Print media ad spend is also decreasing with magazine ad spend down to 11%, and only 6% of spend is being allocated to newspapers (long live the trees!). Radio and out-of-home spend remain at 4% and 2%, respectively.

Social Spend, Spend, Spend?

With majority of marketing spend being shifted toward the digital world, and social media becoming omnipresent, advertisers are scrambling to move their spending to social platforms. Over the 5 years, CMO’s expect to raise their social media spend by 71%. Yes 71!

If that stat isn’t a wake up call then you deserve to stay sleeping. But for those who have already begun adjusting budgets, well done. On average,  social media spend currently accounts for 12% of marketing budgets, although CMO’s also expect to social to account for nearly 25% of marketing budgets over the 5 years.

Sounds Exciting, Doesn’t It?

Brands of all shapes and sizes are expected to increase their social spend over the next 5 years. Brands promoting B2C services aim to increase spending by 82%, Whilst B2C products are expected to boost spending by 61%. B2B brands also expect to see rapid increase in spending; 89% increase for products, and 58% for services.

New Approach, New Goals

Some brands are keeping up with consumers on the social media platforms, but with new approaches to marketing, new goals must be set and fulfilled:

  • Brand building and awareness – The most effective way to use social media is to boost brand awareness. Plus, social media gives marketers the opportunity to target distinct demographics.
  • Engaging new customers – Brands look to social media when reaching out to new customers nowadays, whether it’s creating hashtags or implementing targeted ads.
  • Introducing new products and services – Social media is an excellent tool for spreading awareness of a new product or service (when done right).
  • Maintaining customer base – Well-crafted social media content allows you to keep your audience interested while improving your chances of referrals through post shares and engagement.
  • Sharing brand promotional offers – Social media is the most cost-effective, simple way to share information about upcoming deals and specials. Reach your customers at a click of a button.

Time To Evolve

While there are plenty of benefits to social media, marketers face a new set of challenges and obstacles:

  • Measuring ROI – Quantifying the success of social media projects remains a struggle for many marketers. While social shares and impressions can mean success, it’s hard to tell how they influence revenue.
  • Developing a strategy, content, and ads – Consistently creating relevant content can be difficult for any business owner, who often faces limited resources and time.
  • Including social media within business goals – Many brands are unable to develop a clear picture of how social media impacts business objectives.
  • Tracking results – While there are many social media tracking tools available, not all of them produce reliable results. It can be hard for inexperienced users to fully understand the data.
  • Understanding brand success across social media platforms – How does each channel contribute to an overall marketing strategy? This question remains unanswered for many brands without a marketing team.

With the continuous evolution of social media, successful brands will adapt their strategies to accommodate the ever-changing audience. As a brand, you must keep track of all the latest technological and consumer trends to maintain brand awareness and improve overall ROI in 2018, and leading into 2019.


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