Social network advertising
Social network advertising, also social media targeting is a group of terms that are used to describe forms of online advertising that focus on social networking services. One of the major benefits of this type of advertising is that advertisers can take advantage of the users' demographic information and target their ads appropriately.
Social media targeting combines current targeting options (like geotargeting, behavioral targeting, socio-psychographic targeting, etc.), to make detailed target group identification possible. With social media targeting, advertisements are distributed to users based on information gathered from target group profiles.
Social network advertising is not necessarily the same as social media advertising. Social media targeting is a method of optimizing social media advertising by using profile data to deliver advertisements directly to individual users. Social media targeting refers to the process of matching social network users to target groups that have been specified by the advertiser.
People who use social networks store various information about themselves including, but not limited to, their age, gender, interests, and location. This stored information allows advertisers to create specific target groups and individualize their advertisements. The advantage for advertisers is that their ads can reach people who are interested in the product or service. The advantage for users is that they can see ads that appeal to them. Facebook, for example, the hugely popular social network, has developed a targeting technology which allows advertisements to reach a specific audience. This is why Facebook users see advertisements on their profile page that are tailored to their gender, music taste, or location.
Users and possible reach
- Facebook has 1.44 billion registered users 
- Twitter has 271 million active users across mobile and desktop
- LinkedIn has 300 million active monthly users.
Within social communities users provide demographic information, interests, and images. This information is accessed by social media targeting software and enables advertisers to create display ads with characteristics that match those of social network users. The important component of social media targeting is the provision of the users’ socio-demographic and interest information. By using this information, social media targeting makes it possible for users to see advertisements that might actually interest them. The availability of user data allows for detailed analysis and reporting, which is a big part of social media targeting and what makes it more effective than statistical projections alone.
About three-quarters of Internet uses are members of at least on social network. 49% of U.S. adult women visit social media sites a few times a day, whereas only 34% of men visit them. The fastest-growing age group on Twitter is 55-64 year-olds, up 79% since 2012. And the 45-54 age group is the fastest-growing on Facebook and Google+. Social media use is still more common among the 89% of Internet users aged 18-29, versus 43% of those 65 and older.
Types of Advertising
Popular social media sites, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, offer different ways to advertise brands. Facebook gives advertisers options such as promoted posts, sponsored stories, page post ads, Facebook object (like) ads, and external website (standard) ads. To advertise on Twitter there are promoter tweets, trends, and promoted accounts that show up on users newsfeeds. For advertising on YouTube there are branded channels, promoted videos, an in video advertising.
- Advertisers can reach users who are interested in their products
- Allows for detailed analysis and reporting (including Business Intelligence)
- The information gathered is real, not from statistical projections
- Does not access IP-Addresses of the users
- Goyal 2013, p. 222.
- Pick, Tom. "83 Exceptional Social Media and Marketing Statistics for 2014." Yahoo Small Business Advisor. Yahoo, 20 Apr. 2014.
- Goyal, S. (2013). Advertising on social media. Scientific Journal Of Pure And Applied Sciences, 2(5), 220-223. doi:10.14196/sjpas.v2i5.551
- Shewan, Dan. "Social Media Advertising: Which Platform Is Right for Your Business? | WordStream." WordStream. WordStream, 24 Sept. 2014. Web.
- Statista. "Number of monthly active Facebook users worldwide as of 1st quarter 2015 (in millions)" [online] Available at: