Anyone involved with marketing knows that advertising trends come and go. It’s only been a recent development for advertising channels to come and go, however. The meteoric, game-changing rise of digital marketing has made many seasoned media buyers throw out their playbooks. With new platforms emerging at an astonishing rate, it is difficult to evaluate which apps, sites and other avenues deserve dollars from your budget. That said, social media advertising has solidified itself as a major media player. It’s here to stay, but the question is this: is it worth your money?

How Social Budgets Work

To examine the efficacy and value of social media ads, we must start by looking at how media buyers purchase them. After setting up an account with a sales representative, marketers can schedule months-long campaigns or target single days. The daily and campaign budgets are easily set, as are the goals for impressions and demographics. Most social platforms use an “auction” system to sell inventory to bidders with the most to spend. Generally, though, what you order is close to what is placed.

The ROI Debate

The ultimate question about social media advertising value is if it provides a measurably good return on investment (ROI.) In all honesty, there is no pure answer to this; it is up for debate because ROI is highly subjective. Some industries can’t measure ROI in direct sales conversions from digital advertising. Despite that, if you weight the low cost of impressions, combined with the highly-targetable nature of ad placement, you have a compelling argument that it’s worthy of a place in your media mix.

Using Social Data to Boost Other Media

One of the hidden values that social media advertising provides is incredibly rich analytic data. You can learn an astonishing amount about your audience from the information that your social pages provide on the back-end. Many companies can forego expensive focus groups and research thanks to this data, and it can be used to strategize your media planning across channels both digital and traditional.

The Cost of Branding

It should also be stressed that you may be conspicuous by your absence on social. It’s where your customers (and likely, your competitors) are spending time and money. Even if you can’t draw a straight line from your social spend to revenue, you must factor in the branding value it generates. Organic posts will only get your so far; paid ads will extend your reach.

Is social advertising worth it? Only you can answer that, but hopefully considering these points will help you arrive at a satisfying answer.