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Getting Socially Minded: Marketers to Up Their Social Media Ads in 2013

2 minute read | January 2013

U.S. consumers spend 20 percent of their online time and 30 percent of their smartphone time on social media—accounting for a whopping 121 billion minutes each month. And marketers are starting to adjust their ad campaigns and budgets to keep pace, according to a recent survey commissioned by Vizu, a Nielsen company.

While 89 percent of the advertisers surveyed said they use free tools—such as pages, posts, likes and pins—75 percent say they currently invest in paid social media advertising, which includes tactics such as sponsored content, brand graphs and driving likes. In fact, 64 percent plan to spend more on social in the future.

Social Media Advertising Budgets are Small—but Growing

Paid social media advertising is still relatively new. The majority of advertisers and agencies surveyed said they’d been using paid social media advertising for less than three years. One-fifth (20%) said they’d only started in the past year. Plus, the majority (70%) indicated that they dedicated 10 percent or less of their overall 2012 online advertising budget to paid social media.

The ad mix will likely shift this year, however, as the majority of advertisers (64%) plan to boost their paid social media advertising budgets. While the increases will likely be modest—primarily between 1 and 10 percent—the growth is a positive sign for this young channel that hasn’t traditionally had a dedicated budget. Currently, only 41 percent of advertisers report having a dedicated paid social media ad budget. To fund the increase in paid social media advertising activity, the majority plan to pull budget from other channels—both on and offline.

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

For information about 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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