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The Rise of Paid Social Ads Completing the Integrated Ad Approach

2 minute read | February 2013

Amid the flourishing social media environment, marketers are increasingly viewing paid social media advertising as an integrated part of their marketing tool kits. According to a recent report by Vizu, a Nielsen company, the majority of advertisers say they use paid social media advertising in conjunction with other online and offline advertising (66% and 51%, respectively). Only 5% of advertisers report running primarily social-only campaigns. Social media advertising uses unique tactics—such as sponsored content, brand graphs and influencing the influencers—that have grown to become standard aspects of any integrated campaign.

When asked which online tactics they typically run their paid social media advertising alongside, advertisers’ top three responses were: online display (83%), online video (46%) and mobile (40%). In the offline world, advertisers said they combined their paid social media ads with print (52%), followed by TV (37%).

Not only do brand marketers run paid social media advertising as part of their integrated campaigns, they’re also using it primarily as a branding tool instead of a direct response tactic. Nearly half (45%) of advertisers say they use paid social media advertising for branding, such as raising awareness and influencing brand opinions. Just 16 percent say their efforts are primarily direct response-related, including driving product trails and site visits.

“With paid social media advertising on the rise, it’s no surprise that marketers are beginning to look for true measures of return on investment to justify their investment,” said Jeff Smith, SVP, Product Leadership for Advertising Effectiveness, Nielsen. “And with paid social ads increasingly part of integrated, branding-related campaigns, there is real demand for metrics that are consistent with what they’ve used for other media, such as brand lift and sales lift.”

Download the Paid Social Media Advertising: Industry Update and Best Practices report here.

To learn more or register for an upcoming Nielsen webinar on social media and the new advertising eco system, click here.


Findings were derived from an online survey commissioned by Vizu, a Nielsen company, of more than 500 digital marketing and media professionals on current attitudes and practices regarding paid social media advertising. The survey was conducted by Digiday in fall 2012.

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