Social Media Sites Serve More than 25% of UK Display Ad Impressions

Technology M&A in 2019

comScore released the results of a UK study of online display advertising on social networking sites, based on data from the Ad Metrix service. The study found that social networking sites accounted for 13.8 billion display ad impressions in August 2009, representing 25.5 percent of all display ads viewed online.

The good news is that demographically active people with money (25-54 year olds) make up almost two thirds (61,3 percent) of the unique visitors to social media sites. Marketeers are a bit slow to grasp that and so the percentage of display ads shown to this group was only 59,3 percent of the total impressions. At the same time younger people (15-24 year olds) who make up 23 percent of social media visitors got 29 percent of the display ads targeted at them.

I would suggest that in absolute numbers display advertising to all age groups will grow. Advertisers start to target older age groups and then the display ads served by the age group will reflect more closely actual percentage of unique visitors from that group.

Other important findings include:

  • Telecommunications companies, such as Telefonica O2, Deutsche Telekom, and British Telecommunications, are the biggest social media advertisers with almost 950 million display ad impressions
  • The retail advertiser category, including brands like DFS, Tesco, and John Lewis, came in second with 753 million display ad views
  • Not surprisingly teen content advertisers Habbo, TeenLifeCheck and others delivered the highest proportion of their ad impressions in the social networking category at 37.3 percent. Followed by online dating advertisers with 33.8 percent. 

 Top 10 Online Display Advertiser Categories. Ranked by Total Display Ads Delivered on Social Networking Sites, August 2009, Total UK Age 15+ – Home & Work Locations, Source: comScore Ad-Metrix.

Advertiser CategoryTotal Display Ad Impressions Viewed on Social Networking Sites (000)Total Display Ad Impressions Viewed Across Total Internet (000)Percent of Advertiser Category Display Ad Impressions Viewed on Social Networking Sites (%)
Total Internet13,805,92354,243,07025.5%
Online Gambling158,770800,91919.8%
Online Dating136,718404,97233.8%
Online Gaming131,5211,188,17711.1%

The travel industries low number (11,5%) seems a bit odd to me. I think there are a plenty of opportunities to engage consumers on social networking sites with travel. The possibilities for travel ads to be relevant in social sites are much better than for let’s say retail or telecom.

“CPMs on social networking sites have traditionally suffered relative to other content categories, in part because of the perception that much of the audience are younger consumers with lower spending power,” said Mike Read, comScore managing director, Europe.

In my view the biggest problem with the social media CTR is that people are there to hang out with their friends and this is cognitively long way from interacting with brands or thinking about buying stuff. I would guess that advertisers who manage to get involved in these conversations will see stellar CTRs.

“Given the overall reach and volume of ads delivered on social networking sites, brand advertisers who ignore this channel may be missing a significant opportunity and enabling their competitors to gain a dominant share of voice in the channel.” Mike Read, comScore managing director, Europe.

Demographic% Composition Display Ads in Social Networking Category% Composition Unique Visitors to Social Networking CategoryComposition Index of Display Ads to Visitors
Persons: 15-2429.0%23.0%126
Persons: 25-3422.3%21.2%105
Persons: 35-4421.1%22.0%104
Persons: 45-5415.9%18.1%88
Persons: 55+11.7%15.8%74

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Priit Kallas

Priit is the founder and CEO of DreamGrow Digital, an internet marketing and social media company. With his 20+ years internet marketing experience he is Helping companies to understand and use the digital marketing to reach their target audiences. He's also writing on a personal growth website He has spoken at hundreds of seminars and conferences on different aspects of internet marketing. Priit is also the organizer of Digital Elite Camp, a leading traffic and conversion event.

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