Social media drives online retail traffic

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Social networking platforms are driving traffic to online retail sites.

This is one of the biggest findings from Adobe's Q4 2013 Social Media Intelligence Report, which analysed paid, earned and owned social media trends.

Key findings of the report show that Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr drove an unprecedented amount of qualified traffic to retail sites in Q4, with revenue per visit (RPV) increasing across social channels.

The analysis is based on aggregated and anonymous data from retail, media, entertainment and travel sites between Q4 2012 and Q4 2013, including 240 billion Facebook ad impressions, more than 1.5 billion Facebook posts, 500 million unique visitors to social networking sites, and 6.3 billion social engagements on Facebook, including comments, shares and likes. Paid social data is derived from Adobe Marketing Cloud data.

According to Adobe, social media continues to shape the digital marketplace with how brands can engage consumers. Whether it's through a sponsored link on Twitter, an online ad with Facebook, or retail placement on Pinterest, an understanding of the current trends will go a long way to producing a successful social media marketing campaign, it adds.

The study discovered that Tumblr RPV rose 340% year-over-year (YoY), followed by Pinterest (244%), Twitter (131%) and Facebook (72%).

The data confirms that Facebook is facing increasing competition, with share of referred visits to retail sites growing the fastest YoY for Twitter and Pinterest, at 125% and 89%, respectively.

Twitter continues to grow the fastest in referral visits, says Adobe, urging organisations to incorporate promoted tweets, as well as image- and video-related content, to capitalise on the growth.

"We expect Facebook's competitors to aggressively drive market share growth in 2014 by adding innovative paid media capabilities," says Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst, Adobe Digital Index, Adobe.

"Optimising campaign spending across social channels and seeking a balance between cost per clicks (CPCs) and cost per miles (CPMs) to drive ROI will become even more important," she adds.

Adobe believes that, overall, 2014 will see continued growth in ad revenue as more marketers jump in and social media channels add paid media capacity and capabilities. Marketers will continue to look for a balance between CPCs and CPMs, causing both to continue to fluctuate, it adds.

Gaffney says, to marketers' chagrin, digital marketing - which was already confusing - is getting more complex. It requires a balance between paid media programmes across search, display and social to deliver optimal results, she explains.

Marketers who follow a herd mentality or fail to capitalise on all opportunities will fall behind in the race for high-quality traffic, says Adobe, adding that social media channels are picking up steam and have their eyes on capturing a greater proportion of search dollars.

Adobe believes the real race will not be between social media channels, but between marketers' allocation of dollars across search, display and social.

However, it says, social media risks alienating users while it courts marketers. "We're sure to see some missteps along the way, but by 2015, we should expect to see a balance between content, advertising, targeting and privacy that marketers and users can all live by," says Gaffney.

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