Chris Leone

If you’re like me, your inbox is constantly inundated with the latest reports, polls and surveys. Knowing what to pay attention to can be a challenge, so I’ve collected some of the more interesting statistics and surveys to share with you. This data helps paint a picture as to where we are and where we’re headed in the world of online marketing.

Where do people search?

Recent data from comScore show Google maintaining a strong hold of search engine market share at 67.5 percent. Bing and Yahoo traded two-tenths of a percent, as Bing increased from 18.4 percent to 18.6 percent while Yahoo fell from 10.3 percent to 10.1 percent. In other words, Bing’s increase in search engine share is coming at the expense of Yahoo, which is about to dip into the single digits for the first time.

This is not to say there isn’t opportunity from marketing in Bing and Yahoo (we’ve experienced better cost-per-acquisition in Bing compared to Google with multiple clients). However, it’s worth knowing Google is still the 800 pound gorilla that isn’t budging from atop its perch.

What phones do people use?

The table has flipped on what was once a Blackberry dominated market segment. Today, Google’s Android is the most popular smartphone operating system in the United States, expected to reach 50 percent penetration in 2014. By comparison, Apple’s iOS mobile operating system has about a 40 percent share. Market share for both platforms is only expected to increase in the near future, as BlackBerry and Windows Mobile slip further into the realm of insignificance.

What social platform drives the most ecommerce sales?

Does social media actually result in sales? Research from Shopify shows Facebook was the top social site for commerce in late 2013, although falling behind both Pinterest and Instagram in average order value.

While Facebook has the power in numbers, marketers would be wise to match their product with the most appropriate social channel for marketing. Products better showcased through imagery, for example, would be better represented on graphic-based platforms like Pinterest and Instagram.

Why are social media companies worth so much?

Facebook turned heads when it offered $3 billion to acquire Snapchat, a popular image sharing social platform, in early 2014. Snapchat turned more heads when they declined Facebook’s offer. How could Snapchat, a company that bleeds money and has never produced revenue be worth so much to anyone?

In a word: users. The technology in these apps is easy to replicate. It’s the user base that’s being purchased. With the users comes data, eyeballs, and opportunities to generate more revenue - both for the platform and for advertisers.

The exact number of Snapchat’s users isn’t publicly known (total downloads of the app exceed 60 million). But even if only half those users actively use the app, Facebook’s offer comes out to $100 per active user. By comparison, Facebook paid $29 per Instagram user when they acquired the platform in 2012. That might be considered a bargain, when you consider the going rate of an active social media user is $100.

By placing that kind of value on the user, companies are tipping their hand at the next marketing opportunity. At the end of the day, these businesses can only be worth something if they have the ability to generate revenue. That revenue will likely come in the form of ads, paid for by businesses like yours.

Where are the advertising dollars being spent?

Digital ad revenues rose 17 percent in 2013, causing digital to surpass broadcast television ad revenue for the first time ever. Of all digital ad revenue, mobile revenue represented 17 percent of the pie. This should be somewhat concerning for advertisers as mobile represents 45 percent of digital usage. So while mobile holds a meaningful share of total digital usage, advertising dollars are far behind. I recently wrote about the future of mobile advertising, which explains why mobile ad revenues are lagging and how advertisers need to adapt.

Are traditional or digital ads more effective?

Would you expect digital advertising to have a greater impact on the younger, more tech savvy demographic compared to traditional advertising? According to a recent poll by Andoit Digital, 36 percent of millennials claimed digital ads are more effective at getting their attention while 28 percent claimed traditional and digital ads are equally effective. One might expect online ads, which are designed for platforms designed for younger demographics, would be considerably more effective. That doesn’t seem to be the case. 

Furthermore, a Goo Technologies study found online ads were more likely to be ignored by younger demographics (including Gen X and Gen Y) than more traditional ads. This reinforces the importance of targeting your ads as closely as possible to your targeted audience to maximize your chance for success.

Let’s recap:

  1. Google is still the king of search.
  2. Google and Apple own the smartphone market.
  3. Facebook drives the most online sales.
  4. Companies are placing a high value on active users.
  5. Digital ad spend now exceeds broadcast TV ad spend.
  6. Digital ads are not necessarily more effective to younger users.

How do these trends impact your business going forward? What new opportunities could be on the horizon? Is it time to re-evaluate your advertising dollars?

And now a favor. If you found any of this information useful, please take a second to share this post with your social networks below (really, it only takes a second :) )

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As chief operating officer of WebStrategies, Inc., Chris helps small businesses reach and connect with more customers online. He is the chief strategist for search engine marketing campaigns and the lead analyst for web analytics and website usability testing. Find Chris on Google+LinkedIn, and Twitter.

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