Last year, Kenshoo engaged with Forrester Consulting to evaluate how marketers are using social media advertising, with the goal of providing education on how to choose the most effective objectives and tactics for that channel. The Key to Successful Social Advertising: How to Choose the Right Tactics to Achieve Your Social Advertising Objectives summarized the findings of the research, but there were insights that weren’t highlighted in that whitepaper that I’d like to bring to your attention.

As someone who has spent considerable time with measurement and analytics across digital marketing, one thing that struck me was the responses the 105 Social Media marketers gave when asked to name their biggest challenges with paid social media. Nearly as many respondents—17% to be exact—called out comparing paid social media to other marketing channels as they did simply measuring and improving performance within the channel itself, with those choices dominating all the other answer choices.

What does this tell us? It tells me that the days of looking at individual marketing channels in isolation are finally going away, and good riddance. Silos are the enemy.

social challenges

Putting aside whether it’s considered a challenge or not, 36% of respondents stated that they are, in fact, comparing paid social media performance to other channels. So what is it that these marketers are actually doing?

When asked about specific paid social media measurement tactics currently being used, multi-channel measurement was clearly a second tier behind more typical, intra-channel tactics, like tracking fans, web site traffic, and online sales. However, nearly one in five respondents claimed they either look at the overall branding impact of their social ads, track offline sales, or use advanced modeling to gain greater insight into the full context of the channel. If we were to consider overlap between those activities, we would presumably get to that 36% that said they’re measuring across channels.

social measurement

While I yearn for the day where implementing cross-channel attribution is as common as tracking web site visitors, we’re not quite there yet. What I find encouraging is that, compared to the historical evolution of display or even paid search, we are much quicker to recognize how important it is that we break out of these channel-specific bubbles, and that’s real progress.