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Social media ad spend will double by 2016 and native ads will surge

Lead­ing media and adver­tis­ing advi­so­ry firm BIA/Kelsey has just released a new study which sug­gests that spend­ing on social ads will soar from this year’s total of $4.6 bil­lion to $9.2 bil­lion in 2016 – a lit­er­al dou­bling in under four years.

The fore­cast, which will intrigue all involved in the online adver­tis­ing sales busi­ness from adver­tis­ing sales man­agers to busi­ness devel­op­ment man­agers and beyond, pre­dicts that the bulk of the spend­ing ($5.4 bil­lion of it) in 2016 will go to dis­play ads for social net­works.  But the fastest grow­ing tar­get, cap­tur­ing a third of the total spend at $3.85 bil­lion, will be native social ads which tight­ly inte­grate with user experience.

Will native adver­tis­ing real­ly work?

Although many com­pa­nies stand to ben­e­fit from the trend, Face­book – which relies heav­i­ly on dis­play adver­tis­ing – may well reap the biggest rewards, even if some com­men­ta­tors think it needs to focus more on native ads.  But many ana­lysts believe that Face­book is final­ly mak­ing adver­tis­ing work on social media, espe­cial­ly in the field of native ads for mobile.  That’s two of the biggest growth areas in one firm.

How­ev­er, pro­jec­tions aren’t stone cold cer­tain­ties and, to be frank, the jury is still out over the issue of native advertising’s actu­al effi­ca­cy.  Face­book and its social media com­peti­tors prob­a­bly still face tough chal­lenges, although there are few to zero voic­es claim­ing that social adver­tis­ing will do any­thing oth­er than expand dra­mat­i­cal­ly in the com­ing years.

An uphill struggle?

Adver­tis­ers, though, are still strug­gling to get an accu­rate han­dle on ROIs from social cam­paigns; they’re noto­ri­ous­ly dif­fi­cult to cal­cu­late and the task is cer­tain­ly not made any eas­i­er with native ad offer­ings.  It’s also not clear at this stage how social media users are going to respond to hav­ing their social net­work­ing activ­i­ty increas­ing­ly infil­trat­ed by adver­tis­ing – some may take a sharp dis­like to it, dri­ving behav­ior that any adver­tis­ers will not find espe­cial­ly con­ducive to their aims.

Per­haps there’s still quite a bit of edu­cat­ing and inform­ing to be done amongst Joe Pub­lic to make these trends fly accord­ing to plan.  And Face­book and oth­ers will still need to put their shoul­ders into their cur­rent efforts with­out let or hindrance.

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