Paid search and display advertising underperform compared to social activity

Paid search and display advertising underperform compared to social activity

Research released last week by appssavvy finds that advertising integrated into the social activities occurring across social games, applications and web sites, is one of the most effective forms of digital marketing. We at Bitshelf do not agree with the methodology and approach used to arrive at the findings. Search and Display are not entirely engagement oriented vehicles as is social. As a result it’s not surprising that activity within social media and gaming-sphere will out perform compared to display and search.

I would have loved to have seen a bit more of an apples to apples comparison in the EDIs below. Also, lest we forget that the report is biased simply because it’s from appssavvy.

The appssavvy report: Social Activity Index – Measuring the Effectiveness of Social Advertising (Download free at: found social activity advertising rivals paid search in terms of effectiveness, outperforms standard display ads by a multiple of 11 and more than doubles the performance of rich media.

“The web has changed significantly thanks to social media, but advertising hasn’t,” said Chris Cunningham, co-founder and CEO of appssavvy. “Understanding what people are doing provides advertisers the opportunity to leverage social activities and deliver advertising that captures both context and intent. The Social Activity Index clearly demonstrates the eye-opening effectiveness this new form of digital marketing is driving.”

Performance is measured and based on data from appssavvy spanning 170 U.S. social activity campaigns in 2010 and industry benchmarks by eMarketer ( The index used Equivalent Display Impressions (EDI) — a metric defined by appssavvy to provide a cost weighted measure of an ad format’s ability to drive brand engagement. It finds EDI by ad format as follows:

Ad Format Equivalent Display Impressions (EDI)
Paid Search 12.2
Social Activity 11.4
Rich Media 5.3
Display 1.0

Social activity advertising involves delivering brand messages within activities or events that occur within social games, applications or web sites. Examples of these activities include sending a virtual gift, playing a branded level within a game, completing a poll or quiz, or entering a photo contest, to name a few. Upon completion of an activity, a social ad is delivered. These ads combine brand messaging with social calls to action such as sharing, following, or Like-ing.

When it comes to social activity advertising, social games deliver the highest performance, and outperform all ad formats, including, notably, paid search. The EDI for Paid Search, again, is 12.2, while Social Gaming drove EDI of 15.2. The strong performance of social games advertising is driven by virtual goods gifting and decorative items, and the completion of branded integrations into game play:

Social Games Ad Format Equivalent Display Impressions (EDI)
Gift 37.0
Decorative Item 21.5
Mission/Quest 21.0
Display 1.0

Additionally, the appssavvy Social Activity Index found 2.1 percent of all social activity ads are shared to social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, resulting in hundreds of millions of additional earned media impressions.

Research Details
The Social Activity Index is the result of an analysis of 170 U.S. campaigns in 2010 planned and delivered by appssavvy on behalf of brands, including Microsoft, Visa and McDonald’s, to name a few. These campaigns ran across 20 social activity partners, including ngmoco, LivingSocial and Zynga, spanning Facebook, mobile and web platforms. appssavvy social activity campaigns resulted in more than 200 million social activities completed.

About appssavvy
appssavvy rethinks the relationship between delivery and reception of advertising. We partner with leading web publishers and developers to uncover what people are doing across the Internet. Understanding people and their actions is what enables appssavvy, and the brands and agencies that we work with, to leverage and experience social activity. Today, the appssavvy Social Activity Platform connects more than 293 million people performing 1.4 billion social activities each month with brands.

Source: appssavvy

Download the appssavvy Social Activity Index report.

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