Professional’s in the digital marketing space have no shortage of information at their ready– Blogs, podcast, news sites, free & paid services, social updates and internal metrics are standard information hubs.
However, an often overlooked and typically unreported source of actionable, metric based reporting comes from the companies themselves in the form of stock market quarterly reports.
Larger, publicly traded Ad serving platforms are required by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to report their earnings results to shareholders.
Stock Market Reports as Digital Marketing Signals
Inside these reports, in slide presentations and during post-earnings conference calls, are relevant and pertinent facts, metrics and forward looking statements.
This past week (Jan 31 – Feb 1, 2018), three large North American based companies present their reports:
Let’s look at what these companies said, in order of smallest to largest market capitalization:
Facebook Ad revenue increased 47% YOY (Year over Year), with noticeable gains in North America, Europe and Asia. Leading up to the report, Facebook let investors know that News Feed changes were made to optimize performance. In total users use Facebook on average 2 minutes less per day.
However, during the call the management team shared this information:
In Q4 the average price per ad increased 43% and the number of ad impressions served increased 4%, driven primarily by feed ads on Facebook and Instagram.
It’s worth paying extra attention to cost expenditures and ROI from Facebook Ads. If you’re account has historical data, look back at previous campaigns and see if you’re YOY rates have risen. As costs increase, relevancy and targeting have to be front and centre to mitigate impression costs.
Microsoft’s growing Cloud business stole all of the mainstream headlines, but digital marketers focussed in on the following from the Q4 2017 report
Search advertising revenue excluding traffic acquisition costs increased 10% (up 11% in constant currency) driven by higher revenue per search and search volume
LinkedIn revenues grew by 475% to $1.3 billion
While certainly not a market leader, Bing & Microsoft Ads are still a good compliment to specific campaigns. Increased search volume gives marketers using the platform additional impression opportunities, and coupled with Bing analytics makes this an enticing 4th or 5th Ad serving option going forward.
Depending on your vertical, LinkedIn may already be a tactical deployment. With the growth in the service, integration in Microsoft’s eco-system and growing CRM user base, LinkedIn offers great professional targeting options now and, it appears, into the future.
Google shares disappointed, largely due to a down market and decrease in margins due to drastically increased TAC (traffic acquisition costs) expenses to serve as the search engine for Apple & Firefox devices & browsers.
This news overshadowed Google’s increased revenue driven by volume on lower CPC costs:
Aggregate paid clicks: 43 percent increase year-over-year vs increase of 42.1 percent expected by StreetAccount estimates
CPC: 14 percent year-over-year decline
Inventory has increased dramatically, offsetting lower CPC levels. This is an interesting contract to Facebook, which should see inventory shrinking and ad costs rising drastically.
One area of concern for a digital marketer is the shrinking margins at Google based upon their licensing expenses. While Google has promised that these licensing changes will remain in-line in the future, one has to imagine that they will try to off-set this expense somewhere else inside their model, including potentially ad serving platforms.
Taking all three of these big hitters into account:
- It’s time to consider MSFT products as viable options if you haven’t already done so
- Take a hard look at YOY click and ad serving costs at both Facebook & Google, and keep tabs on these costs from throughout the next quarter of your spends. Compare and contrast for click rates, serving costs and ROI.