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Looking Back: Social Media Advertising Updates from 2016

Ellie Gunville
by Ellie Gunville on Dec 19, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Over the course of December, we're taking a look back at some of the biggest changes and updates that hit the online advertising world in 2016. Catch our search advertising update here and keep an eye out for our display recap in the coming weeks. Today, we're covering one of my favorite topics, social media advertising!

While Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have been key players in the online advertising world for a few years now, this year we saw Pinterest and Instagram pick up speed and newcomers like Snapchat enter the market.

Across the globe, the investment brands are making in social media advertising is growing at an astronomical rate. Revenue from social media advertising alone is forecasted to almost double in just a two-year time period, increasing from nearly 18 billion in 2014 to almost 33 billion in 2016.


We can vouch for these trends at E-Power! Among our clients, social media advertising spend has increased by almost 140% from 2015 to 2016.


With a spike in ad spend came a whole lot of changes across the industry in 2016.  New platforms, products, and ad formats rolled out at a faster pace than we saw in 2015, forcing brands to rapidly evolve their strategies. Let's look back at some of the biggest changes to rock the social media advertising world in 2016.

1. "Pay-to-Play" Increases

Facebook has made it no secret that in order to reach your fans, you're going to have to pay for it. Back in 2012, they announced that Pages organically reach about 16% of their fans on average. Today that percentage is expected to be closer to 6%....6%! This means that all of that great content your social media team is developing is going to reach a very limited audience if you don't put some budget behind it.

FacebookReach.pngIn order to reach that fan base that you've worked so hard to create, you have to pay to promote your content. This explains that sharp increase in ad spend over the last couple of years!

Facebook isn't the only social network using this business model. Twitter is headed in the same direction. In 2016 we saw Twitter more focused on a pay-to-play style system, putting added emphasis on promoted tweets and "Tweet rank" algorithm buzz increasing.

2. Snapchat Enters the Market

It was only a matter of time until Snapchat opened up the door for advertisers, and as predicted, 2016 was that time! With an actively growing user count, brands were anxiously awaiting the opportunity to interact with this community.

 Snapchat Ads offer brands several different formats to engage with the nearly 100 million users who use the app every day. In a world flooded with advertisements, Snapchat has found a way to make their ads enjoyable and fun for their users with formats like Sponsored Lenses and Sponsored Geofilters.

Nearly 30 million snaps sent each day include Sponsored Lenses. Talk about brand exposure! But of course, all of that exposure doesn't come cheap. A 24-hour Sponsored Lense can cost between $100,000 and $750,000. Sponsored Lenses are the most expensive ad format available.


Sponsored lenses are one of many ad formats that will reportedly drive Snapchat's revenue to $300 million in 2016!

3. Social Commerce Ramps Up

If social media advertising isn't part of your marketing budget, you’re missing out on a massive opportunity to interact with potential customers, boost awareness and now more than ever, increase sales

 In 2016, social networks continued to focus efforts on making their platforms a place where ecommerce transactions can occur seamlessly. After all, if brands are able to drive more revenue via social media advertising, they're going to continue to invest in it. Everybody wins!

 This year click-to-buy features became more prominent than ever across almost all social networks. Social media users can now make purchases without ever visiting a brands website thanks to "buy now" features.


In September 2016 Instagram reportedly had over 500,000 advertisers, more than double the number it had in February. In November they announced new "shoppable photos" which are designed to enhance their e-commerce capabilities.  Shoppable photos will display with a white icon in the lower left corner. Tapping on the icon will reveal items within the photo that are available for purchase. Users can then click on these items to get more information about the product. Tap one step further and you'll be taken right to the retailer's website to complete your purchase. Shoppable photos are only available to select retailers at the moment, and there are no advertising options currently available, but we anticipate these options will roll out to a larger audience (with ad opportunities) in the near future.


Gone are the days of "social media doesn't drive sales". There is a reason that some of the largest, most successful brands are using social media to conduct ecommerce sales. Because it's working.

With social media channels evolving faster than ever before, it’s difficult to predict what 2017 may have in store for us; however, we can say with 100% certainty that things aren't going to slow down! Let's hear your 2017 predictions!

Struggling to stay on top of the changes? We keep up so you don't have to! Contact us today to discuss how we can help your brand develop a social media advertising strategy that drives the results you need to stay ahead of the competition.

5 Reasons to Advertise on Social Media

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Ellie Gunville
Written by Ellie Gunville
As the Manager of Online Advertising at E-Power Marketing, Ellie focuses on developing targeted advertising campaigns to boost sales, increase trade show and event registrations drive leads and strengthen brand recognition. She has become an expert in all things online advertising, and expanded her focus to also include Google Analytics and conversion optimization.

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