The social media ad industry has exploded in recent years, fueled in part by the rise of mobile apps, video streaming services and the emergence of platforms like YouTube and Facebook.
And while the number of companies with social media ads is projected to grow to more than $7.3 billion by 2020, they’re also spending more than ever on online advertising, which is where most of the growth is.
That’s because of the way Facebook and YouTube are designed, and the companies that use those platforms.
They make ads more tailored to a particular audience and to specific audiences based on demographic, location and other factors.
Facebook’s ads have become more targeted in recent months.
For example, a recent study found that the ads of two companies that advertise on the social network were more likely to appear to people in the United States than ads from a rival that didn’t do so.
But the most successful companies are also spending a lot of money on social ad space.
The ad industry says the trend is driven by the proliferation of mobile applications that allow people to watch videos or search for products or products brands.
“The way social is used is changing the way we sell things,” says Matt Treadway, chief marketing officer at AdWords, a company that tracks how well companies are selling products on social.
“Social media is a platform where we’re targeting the people who are using it.”
In addition to buying up social space, companies also are creating their own online networks and social media communities to get their message out to a wider audience.
That gives advertisers more reach than they can get through a traditional advertising campaign.
For advertisers, the digital platform gives them more control over their marketing efforts.
For marketers, social media is critical because it’s an area of the advertising world where there’s so much opportunity for a lot more value.
“What we’re seeing on social is more of a ‘get out of here’ than an ‘in,'” says Andrew Leibenluft, chief executive of advertising research firm Canalys.
“That’s the key thing, is it’s about creating a more targeted environment, where you can target people and reach out to them.”
While Facebook and Google are among the most popular platforms for advertisers, it’s not all good news for companies that are trying to grow their businesses.
Facebook and Twitter have been criticized for their use of “bots” to boost their online presence.
That means those companies are paying people to create fake accounts and follow people they don’t really like, or at least they think they don.
The practice is illegal under federal law and can result in fines or prison time.
“They’re taking money from their users, and they’re paying people for the privilege of doing it,” says Adam Rifkin, an analyst at eMarketer.
Facebook is also using bots to target the same people who like to share photos and videos of themselves online.
“If they’re really interested in you, they’ll try to engage with you,” says Leibent.
“And if you have a Facebook account and you’re a big brand, then that will get you more exposure, and you’ll have more people who will talk to you.”
And social media isn’t the only place companies are taking advantage of bots to grow.
For years, some companies have tried to use bots to boost the number and reach of people they’re reaching on social in order to boost sales.
“In many cases, we’re actually making our content appear to more people than we actually are,” says AdWords chief marketing strategist Ben Haffy.
“We’re making the ads appear to the people we actually want to reach.”
But even as social media companies try to increase their reach and their ads, they can still get into trouble for targeting people based on their interests.
“I don’t think you can get too far away from this kind of stuff,” says Mike Stelzner, CEO of marketing company Engagement Hub.
“It’s all too easy to get caught up in the algorithm, and it’s all about the data.”
Engagement Center, a market research firm, recently released a report titled “How Facebook and Snapchat Are Using Facebook Ads to Target Users Based on Their Interests.”
The report says that over 80 percent of Facebook ads target people based solely on their interest group, and that’s just for people who follow the Facebook account.
It’s a trend that’s gotten even more pronounced as the social media platforms have expanded their reach to more of their users.
“There are very few things that people do that aren’t influenced by their interest groups,” says Mark Thompson, president of marketing firm Marketing Insights.
“But they do have an affinity for certain things.”
And when the ad is targeted to that interest group that the Facebook ads are targeting, that can lead to a more aggressive placement of the ad in a specific target audience.
In the report, Marketing Insives found that about half of all ads targeted to people based their interests on Facebook had a