Here’s a Buyer’s Guide to Ad Targeting on 8 Social Platforms

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We are living in a social world, a reality not lost on marketers. Last week, eMarketer reported 88 percent of all U.S. firms have a presence on at least one social media platform—which explains why the forecaster predicts advertising on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and their social brethren will exceed $29 billion in 2016. As if on cue, Twitter just unveiled native video ads that can be targeted via its MoPub mobile apps network.

Here's what's changed with social: its targeting abilities, which in recent months have become dramatically more sophisticated. "There are definitely two schools of thought when it comes to the targeting abilities of social networks," says Tom Edwards, chief digital officer of agency business at Epsilon. "Those who are constantly refining their offerings and enhancing their targeting capabilities and those who rely on their readers to choose their own path."

"Social-platform ads are definitely maturing, not only in targeting opportunities, but in reach," adds Joe Gizzi, senior strategy director of Meredith Xcelerated Marketing. "I can now target ads within Facebook's owned app, subsidiary apps like Instagram and throughout its ad network, using all of the great intelligence I have about its users."

"But for marketers, these social platforms are still a black box," contends Gunnard Johnson, svp of data and analytics at Centro.

That's why we've broken down the targeting abilities of the eight most prominent social platforms (with a focus on the newest options when it comes to more-established players like Facebook and Twitter). Take a look:  

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.