2014 looks to be a big year for social advertising.

Marketers are leveraging the unique targeting and native formats that social networks provide and voting with their wallets. As you can see by the eMarketer data below, 2013 saw a 42.9% year-over-year (YoY) increase in social ad spending, and 2014 is expected to go up by 31.1% on top of that.

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As more spend flows into this channel, marketers realize that they can bolster their programs with a social ad management platform in the same ways that bid management has helped search marketers for years. These platforms can provide workflow efficiency and time savings, advanced measurement, and optimization options that can maximize return on investment (ROI).

In fact, choosing a social ad technology provider will probably be the most important task many social advertising manager have on their plate this year. To arm marketers with the tools needed to conduct an effective evaluation, today we released Volume 4 of our Guide series, The Kenshoo Guide to Evaluating Social Advertising Technology Platforms.

While researching this Guide, I spoke with the Kenshoo Social team to find out the most burning questions that marketers have about this technology.Β  You will find many of these hot topics within the Guide as well as the following resources that can help set you up for success during your own evaluation process:

  • Self-assessment quiz: are you ready for a social ad technology platform?
  • Action plan for the evaluation process
  • The evaluation spreadsheet
  • How to get the most out of demos
  • Questions to ask during reference calls
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Although this volume is packed with a ton of great tips on evaluating social ad platforms, the overall theme of what marketers really want to know when they reach out to us is clear: How can the platform take our social advertising program to the next level?

I was a lead technology buyer at a digital marketing agency for over five years before coming to Kenshoo, and I can attest to the fact that this is the most important thing to consider when choosing a third party platform. Having efficient workflow is great and deep reporting and analytics is also critical, but the real question is: What is the sum of the parts?

Bells and whistles make a lot of noise, but at the end of the day, if they don’t push your program from good to great or great to amazing, then what’s the point? If you find yourself or your team zooming too far into a specific functionality, step back and evaluate the platform based on its entire offering and its ability to truly help you from start to finish. Some marketers can get stuck on a couple of key points and fail to focus on the bigger picture.

So, my biggest tip for evaluating any marketing platform, not just social advertising platforms, is to visualize where you want your ad program to go in 2014 and find the provider that can help take you there.

Download the The Kenshoo Guide to Evaluating Social Advertising Technology Platforms and be sure to join our webinar this afternoon with Zachary Reiss-Davis from Forrester Research as he shares his thoughts on the social ad landscape and provides tips on evaluating technology partners.