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BIG Social Advertising Predictions for 2018

Featuring Steve Burnett from Hanapin Marketing and JD Prater from AdStage


As 2017 quickly comes to an end, it’s time to start focusing on what we can expect to see happen in social advertising in 2018. This past year, we’ve seen new features rolled out left and right and platforms becoming more competitive for advertisers’ dollars. While Facebook is still King, eventually the marketplace is going to become over-saturated. So where will advertisers turn to next? And what new opportunities and advancements can we expect to see from social platforms in the coming year?


Social Advertising experts, Steve Burnett from Hanapin Marketing and JD Prater from AdStage, offer their predictions in Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIN, Pinterest, Snapchat, and YouTube, as well as big insights on what’s happening now in social.




“I predict that 2018 is the year that Facebook accelerates the development of key tools and features, which will eventually help it rival Google AdWords.”
– Steve Burnett


Prediction: Heavy Investments in Ad Platform Improvements


While Facebook may not surpass Google (yet), Facebook is certainly ready to begin reaping what they’ve sown. At Hanapin, we’re already seeing advertising budgets shifting into Facebook due to the segmentation capabilities, positive ROI, and the advance of tools and features that are directly and specifically aimed at advertisers. Many of these new tools will allow Brands to scale on the platform like never before.



“This is going to be the year of messenger. In predictions past, we thought that once Facebook found a niche with Messenger, we would see growth opportunities, I think this is that time.” – Steve Burnett


Prediction: Increased Capabilities with Messenger Ads


The Rise of Chatbots

Facebook recently released some new tools for developers that enhance the messenger experience for business objectives. These things include neurolinguistics programming (NLP, which is a fancy way of detecting meaning and information in text messages a user sends before it gets sent to a Chatbot. Currently, It can detect things like “hello,” “goodbye”, “thanks,” and other pleasantries versus data-driven things like date, time, location, amount of money, etc. It gives bots a better understanding of what the user is trying to communicate before it offers a solution or passes that message to a human being. It will enhance customer service immensely by allowing customers to get quick answers to common questions through automation and receive more personalized customer support from live agents.


Improved Payment Flows

With a push for more adoption of the messenger platform, I think there’s also going to be a push for monetization. Improvements will be made to the payment flows and the platform will make payments easier and more efficient for ecommerce companies.



“I think we will see Facebook campaigns become a lot simpler, as the platform takes on more of the process, leaving most of the strategy work up to the advertiser.”
– JD Prater


Prediction: Facebook Ads Go Programmatic with A Value Twist


Facebook is starting to take on the dynamic optimization process. The platform is launching dynamic ads, optimized delivering, optimizing bids and budgets, offering value-based lookalikes and now they are going to throw in offline conversions to help get attribution. With Facebook owning more of the process, it will encourage campaigns to be simpler and allow advertisers to focus on strategies, while Facebook delivers everything else.


Attribution has been a difficult topic to tackle for social advertisers in particular. I think there will be a huge push for offline conversions, so Facebook can make a bigger impact on helping advertisers attribute clicks and sales more accurately.


“We are already seeing and feeling Facebook begin to slowdown. There’s more competition now than ever and CPMs are rising.  I predict that we’ll see less user growth, higher costs, and more businesses advertising within the next year.” – JD Prater


Prediction: The Facebook Ad Load Slowdown Will Continue


At any given time, there are up to 1500 different pieces of content that can be placed in a user’s newsfeed. There’s so much content now and only so much a person can consume. Users must prioritize updates organically from family and friends, advertisers, and brands they’ve opted in to, which makes for a lot of competition for a user’s attention.


With CPMs already rising, this is what you can expect to see next year:


  1. Slower User Growth
  2. More Advertisers (Currently there are 5m total with only 8% of all businesses advertising)
  3. Increased Auctions Rates


However, there will also be some areas for growth, such as:


Look for more placements in the future, as Facebook tries to clean up and solve ad load.




“All those advertisers on Facebook are headed straight to Instagram! Advertisers on the platform doubled in March to 2 million, so I think it will continue to build different types of ads, including a lot more video ads. Watch out for full-screen immersive stories in 2018.” – JD Prater


Prediction: Pipeline of Advertisers Headed Straight to Instagram


Facebook currently has 6 million advertisers, while Instagram only has 2 million. Instagram continues to develop attractive tools and features for advertisers, including ways to tell a story and interject ads into the native experience. With these advancements, there’s a good chance that at least 4 million advertisers are headed to Instagram in 2018.


More Video Ads

Time spent watching video on Instagram is up more than 80% year-over-year and videos produced per day has increased by 4X from last year. The popularity of video has only risen in 2017, so it’s safe to assume that video ads will continue to increase.



“As more users quickly migrate to Instagram, I expect to see features like Sponsored Shoppable Product Tags and a host of other advertising features in the coming year. The platform is very attractive to young adults and millennials, so I think we’ll see more of those fun, cartoonish, 3D and augmented reality capabilities that have made Snapchat so popular.”
– Steve Burnett



Prediction: More Advanced Instagram Business Tools and Features


Majority of Facebook’s targeting abilities are already on Instagram, but when you consider stories and live video, Instagram transforms into a platform that is much more feature-rich and offers more scalable opportunities for businesses. Growth in users will continue, especially with a younger demographic, so more advanced tools and features will be needed to keep up with the demands of advertisers to reach their target audiences.




“LinkedIN always seem to be playing catch-up to the other platforms, but 2017 was a breakthrough year for them. They finally implemented some much-needed updates. With the Microsoft partnership, I expect some new cool features, as well as the ability to run native video ads. This should be a really great year for LinkedIN.” – Steve Burnett


Prediction: 2017 Breakthrough – 2018 Breakaway?


2017 was a breakthrough year for LinkedIN. They finally added some staple features like in-targeting, custom lists and lead gen formats, which were all welcome updates. 2018 probably won’t be a breakaway year, but with the new Microsoft partnership, we can expect the platform to improve functionality, and roll out new tools and features. Since video is the go-to format on social media now, there’s a good chance native video ads will be added to their repertoire of auctions.



“I think one thing they are positioned well to do is to go after publishers. So, I predict they will offer something that is like Facebook’s Instant Articles with very professional content and focus on getting users to keep coming back to LinkedIn.” – JD Prater


Prediction: LinkedIn Ads Go After Publishers





“Twitter is the go-to source for capturing engagement during live events. I think they are going to double-down on that advantage and start offering more accessibility to information on breaking events and entertainments in the moment.” – Steve Burnett


Prediction: “What’s Happening Now” With 280 Characters


Twitter recently launched a new feature called “Happening Now.” For users that can see it now, they show events and topics a person may be interested in, based on their timeline of tweets. The information for those events and topics are then aggregated at the top of the newsfeed. When it fully launches, It will be really easy to find lots of information on things that are happening right now and in a timely manner.  It’s already starting with sports and it’s possible that Breaking News and Entertainment could be next.


One of Twitter’s fundamental features, the 140 characters, may go away in 2018. The platform is currently testing doubling the character link to 280 characters. If they decide to go with that change, it will mark the biggest fundamental change in the platform’s history. In a world that demands more content, this could be a way to expand Twitter’s shrinking user base.


UPDATE: Twitter announced on Tuesday, November 7th, 2017 that it was officially doubling its tweet length to 280 characters. Interestingly, it also said that during tests, people stopped tweeting the full length after the novelty of tweeting more characters wore off. According to the company, only 5% of tweets sent from people in the 280-character test group were longer than 140 characters, and just 2% were over 190 characters. So what does this mean for longer tweets and more users? Only time will tell!


“Twitter is the place for real-time news and updates. I think they are going to try to capitalize on it. I see them going after TV dollars and doing partnerships, like offering live Twitter broadcasts on Apple TV.” – JD Prater



Prediction: Twitter Chases Live Video





“I believe Pinterest will try to hone in on visual search this year, chase partnerships and see it being a great generator of offline conversions.”
– JD Prater


Prediction: Pinterest will cultivate Media Partnerships and Increase Video Ads


2018 is going to be a big year for media partnerships and using video in advertising. Pinterest likely won’t be left out of either. Pinterest already has a visual search tool in place, so there’s a good chance they’ll start working towards things that will boost their bottom line and work on securing some media partnerships.


An example of a media partnership:


You’re in the grocery store and you take a picture of a zucchini. A sponsored post of a recipe then pops up that uses zucchinis.


Right now, 60% of US consumers use Pinterest to view photos while only 15% view videos. Video is so popular right now and will likely increase in 2018. What will be key for Pinterest, is attribution. Helping advertisers understand where Pinterest fits into their marketing mix and how to correctly attribute it will grow their efforts immensely.


“I think the Pinterest Lens Tool is going to be integral for retailers. The new tool will allow a user to snap a photo of any product and find it at any store, no matter what store they are currently in. So, the camera will become the keyword search essentially.” – Steve Burnett


Prediction: Pinterest Lens Tool Goes Retail




“I think this fun-loving company is getting more serious about being a competitor in the digital marketing marketplace. Snapchat will turn its everyday user engagement into a marketing platform. It could drive a lot of marketing value for advertisers in the restaurant and tourism industry. This is the year Snapchat grows up a little bit.” – Steve Burnett


Prediction: Visual-First Contextual Marketing Platform


Snapchat has a huge level of engagement. It already offers context cards that provides access to restaurant reviews and reservations with an expandable list that offers more great information. With this type of ad format in place and expanded targeting/exclusion capabilities, Snapchat could turn itself into a marketing platform that potentially rivals Yelp.



“Snapchat is kind of like Twitter. It’s a popular service, that is struggling to grow, but it’s starting to build out things that will make it useful. It has a lot of potential to grow up and bring a lot more value to advertisers.”
– JD Prater


Prediction: Snapchat Will Become a Method of Discovery


As said previously, Snapchat experiences a crazy amount of engagement among its users. Right now, the under 40 crowd are spending 40 minutes a day and opening the app 18 times a day. While Facebook is higher in time spent per day, Snapchat is where people are talking to each other and engaging with each other and brands. They aren’t reading articles.


To get adoption from more advertisers, they need to transition from top of funnel to mid-funnel campaigns and learn how to monetize the platform without interrupting the user experience. The best way for them to do that is with Augmented Reality (Like Dancing Hot Dog Man), as well as to make an investment in ad tools and measurement. They need to give marketers the analytics and data they need to understand if its valuable or not. It’s definitely the preferred platform for the younger demographic, but now is the time to make some money off those users.




“Youtube is going after Programmatic TV ad spending. They’ve tried this a couple of times now, but I think 2018 is the year they are going to crack it.” – JD Prater


Prediction: Youtube Will Build a TV Ad Exchange


YouTube is looking for their piece in the TV ad market. They are going to become the pipes that’s connecting advertisers and brands to users. And how they will do this is by building a TV ad exchange – basically building a DoubleClick program for TV. The US TV ad market is 73 billion dollars. Programmatic TV ad spending is only 1.1 billion dollars, so there’s a huge margin for them to grow and to win that TV ad spend, if they can build and insert itself as the TV ad ecosystem.



“Google has been rolling out some new targeting capabilities on YouTube this year and there will be even more in the new year. I think that’s going to keep going and we’ll see some big improvements and opportunities next year.” – Steve Burnett


Prediction: Improved, High-Intent Targeting Capabilities




2 BOLD Predictions!



JD’s Big Prediction:

Marketers will start measuring attention-engagement and produce high-quality, snackable content (less than 90 seconds) to stay in front of users


Steve’s Big Prediction:

Amazon Will Start Their Own Ad Network


Want to hear Steve and JD discuss their predictions live? Watch the On Demand Webinar in Hanapin’s PPC Library.