Social networks referred a “record amount” of revenue to US retail sites during the fourth quarter of 2013, reports Adobe in its latest social intelligence report [pdf]. But none of the major platforms’ revenue-per-visit (RPV) grew quite as quickly on a year-over-year basis as Tumblr: the network’s RPV shot up by 340% to $1.10 in Q4 2013. In the process, Tumblr’s RPV overtook the comparable figures for both Pinterest ($0.93) and Twitter ($0.81), each of which showed solid – if slightly less spectacular – growth rates of their own. For its part, Pinterest’s RPV of $0.93 represented 244% growth from $0.27 in Q4 2012, while Twitter’s mark of $0.81 was up 131% from $0.35.
By comparison, Facebook’s increase in revenue-per-visit of 72% looks fairly pedestrian; while Adobe sees the results as a “warning sign” for Facebook, it still enjoyed the RPV ($1.22) of the 4 platforms analyzed.
Interestingly, Tumblr’s high RPV in Q4 doesn’t seem to have been as reliant on the holiday season as the other platforms. On a quarter-over-quarter basis, Tumblr’s RPV grew by 38% during the fourth quarter, a slower rate than Pinterest (69%) and Twitter (86%) though slightly more rapid than Facebook (31%). That suggests that Tumblr had meaningful growth earlier in the year, and Adobe’s figures indeed show that its Q2-Q3 growth rate outpaced the other platforms.
Of course, Tumblr’s referral traffic to retailers remains small in comparison to the other platforms (minuscule in relation to Facebook), even if it is driving high-quality traffic. In terms of referral traffic to retail sites, Facebook remains the dominant platform, followed by Pinterest and Twitter. But, Facebook’s share declined by 15% year-over-year – leading the analysts to suggest that it is facing more competition from other networks such as Twitter (which saw its share grow by 125% year-over-year) and Pinterest (up 89%). It should be noted, though, that these figures relate to visits to US retail sites only – other data shows that Facebook is becoming a much larger referrer of traffic to publishers.
Earned Trends: Engagement With Video Posts Declines
The report’s section on earned social reinforces some existing findings from other research while providing some interesting trends. Unsurprisingly, likes account for the vast majority – 82% – of social engagement, but that share continues to inch back (down 6% year-over-year in Q4) at the expense of comments and shares (up 40%). While brand post impressions were up by 150% year-over-year in December, average social engagement increased by an outsized 180%.
During Q4, images and videos produced the highest engagement rates, of 4.5% and 1.9%, respectively. While it wasn’t surprising to see images attain the highest engagement rate, this quarter was notable for its decrease in video post engagement, with that 1.9% figure down substantially from 3.5% in Q3 2013 and 2.9% in Q4 2012.
In Q4, brands continued to post many more images than videos. In fact, the share of posts including a video dropped from 8% in Q4 2012 to 6% in Q4 2013, while the share of posts including an image increased from 67% to 74% during that period.
Paid Trends: Facebook Ad Clicks Outgrowing Impressions
While Kenshoo recently reported that Facebook ad click-through rates (CTRs) were up by 10% quarter-over-quarter in Q4, it’s a different story according to Adobe, which found CTRs to have leveled off during the fourth quarter. Even so, CTRs were up by 365% year-over-year in Q4, per Adobe, while costs-per click remained even on that basis. Given those trends, Adobe recommends that advertisers either begin using paid social or up their current usage.
While CPCs were largely stable year-over-year, cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) grew by 437% year-over-year, leading Adobe to see an “increased need for marketers to focus on optimization.”
Finally, on a year-over-year basis, Facebook ad clicks grew by 125%, while impressions were up by a comparatively small 10%, indicating that consumers “may have a larger appetite for ads than Facebook and brands think.”
About the Data: The report is based on consumer data to brand sites during 2012 and 2013. It is comprised of aggregated and anonymous data from retail, media and entertainment, and travel websites. Ad data does not included retargeted ads on social networks.
Sample data includes 240 billion Facebook ad impressions; 500 million referred visitors from social sites; 1.5 billion Facebook posts; and 6.3 billion Facebook comments, shares, and likes.