For many, Facebook is the place to be.

It’s where marketers need to allot advertising dollars — and fast, according to Adobe Digital Index’s Social Intelligence & Digital Advertising Report that came out today. The study looked at more than 21 billion referred visits from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Reddit, Tumblr and YouTube and nearly 900 million digital ad impressions spanning the dominant social and search platforms Google and Facebook.

According to Joe Martin, a senior analyst at Adobe Digital Index, Google’s display ad strategy pales in comparison to Facebook’s. Due to the social network casting some “radical redesigns” in the way it presents its ads over the past year — namely moving ads from the right rail directly into the newsfeed — click-through rates on Facebook ads doubled year-over-year.

“Google’s click-through rate for display ads only grew 24 percent — a 75 percent gap [from Facebook],” Martin said, adding that when Facebook made the shift from the right rail to newsfeed ads, impressions dipped 50 percent year-over-year — meaning the platform is showing fewer ads but getting better clicks.

“Facebook has put a lot of emphasis on targeting and that speaks to a decrease in impressions,” Martin said. Showing an ad to fewer people that is more relevant to them is more impactful than a less targeted ad because it will likely get ignored by the majority of viewers.

Facebook’s revenue per visit metric, or how much money a marketer makes from each person visiting the platform, is 30 cents higher than any of its competitors. Even though it’s still the leader here and hovers around the $1 mark, Facebook saw a decline in this traffic metric year-over-year. For Martin, though, it still provides the highest-quality traffic for retailers looking to market in the social space.

As for Google’s search business, although it’s still growing, Martin expects this growth to slow. He predicted that Google’s search revenue for this quarter will be up just 1 to 2 percent, lower than the 4.5 percent increase during the second quarter of last year.

“Search is such a big animal that even 1 to 2 percent growth is positive, but there’s a lot of social and other things that are nipping at its heels and taking marketing spend share from it,” Martin said.

A shift in Google’s mobile approach in late April — which gave organic search benefits to those with mobile-friendly sites — has resulted in what Martin called “Mobilegeddon.” Sites with lower mobile engagement saw organic traffic drop by 10 percent, with the biggest spike in loss of traffic occurring during Memorial Day week.

“This is hurting sites that aren’t ‘mobile-friendly,’” Martin said. “Google is forcing their hand a little bit. They see that the mobile trend is happening and that mobile [traffic] will surpass desktop traffic in 18 months. They are trying to take advantage of that future revenue.”

This is Google’s way of letting those that aren’t as mobile-savvy know that they must step up their game. And in the meantime, it’s manifested into a 16 percent increase in cost-per-click rates on the paid side.

Beyond mobile traffic, Martin added that smartphones are leading another significant shift. Mobile referral traffic is increasingly coming from social platforms, up 118 percent year-over-year. Despite this number being just 4.7 percent of smartphone referral visits, he said the category is showing strength. For example, 8.2 percent of all traffic to media sites comes from Facebook. However, less than 1 percent of all retail Web traffic comes from Facebook.

“Facebook is a viable marketing option to be a part of your marketing mix, which a lot of marketers are still trying to understand,” Martin said. “Organic posts have been declining for months as far as reach. You really need to spend money on Facebook.”


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