Social Advertising Best Practices

Social media is big and getting bigger, providing marketers with a combination of reach, relationships, and relevance:

  • Reach: Social media has overtaken email as the most popular consumer activity, according to a recent Nielsen study. Importantly, consumer growth is coming from an older demographic than social media's historical base; for example, Facebook's strongest growth is coming from 35-49 year-olds, adding twice as many 50-64-year-olds as opposed to those under 18. (Nielsen “Global Faces and Networked Places,” March 9, 2009; MediaPost Blogs Research Brief, “Social Networking Is No Respecter of Age,” March 18, 2009.)
  • Relationships: Social media's strength is in the personal connections it enables, the peer-to-peer contact, providing reasons for consumers to visit regularly and for extended periods of time.
  • Relevance: Consumers are extremely engaged with the content and connections that their friends are creating because of its personal relevance.

Marketers are looking to maximize the effectiveness of this new medium and are developing social advertising that heightens relevance and engagement through the use of profile data within the ad units themselves, as well as the use of social graph data to target ads.

These Best Practices are intended to help protect consumer privacy, ensure transparency for what and how data is being used, and to define consumer permissions. The purpose of this document is to provide best practices that illustrate, inform, and facilitate greater adoption of the medium by defining creative components, data usage, consumer control, and privacy guidelines and by providing social advertising examples.

This document outlines recommendations for these key social advertising topics and is intended for social networks, publishers, ad agencies, marketers, and service providers delivering social advertising. These best practices were developed via a thorough examination of the critical consumer, media and advertiser issues to help social media further realize its advertising potential.