Despite the Exodus of Teenage Users, Facebook Remains the Optimal Platform for Ad Spend

Opinion: If Snapchat is firing a rifle, Facebook is dual-wielding machine guns

Facebook’s multitouch attribution model and meticulously refined targeting ability position it as the top dog wellesenterprises/iStock

Is Facebook losing its luster? eMarketer seems to think so—at least when considering the platform’s projected decline in the growth of its teenage user base. With Snapchat’s number of adolescent users on the rise, advertisers previously married to Facebook are scrambling to ensure that their marketing dollars are still being allocated to the right platform.

According to the aforementioned report from eMarketer, by 2022, Facebook is estimated to lose 2.2 million adolescent users, while Snapchat is projected to gain 1.2 million.

Out of context, Facebook’s recent public relations struggles and subsequent drop in new youth users raise red flags—but it’s not enough to derail the American sweetheart of social media.

Here’s why Facebook is still the best platform for your business to drive conversions and increase return on investment for your customers.

It’s really hard to actually predict the digital landscape in four years

Predicting what’s going to happen in social media marketing four years down the road is like trying to predict who’s going to win the Super Bowl in four years. Sure, we can look at recent trends, but there are so many moving parts and variables involved when it comes to digital advertising that it’s almost impossible to know for sure what’s going to happen in terms of new features, new competitors and a new generation of users.

If you looked back four years ago from now, you’d see that Forbes was predicting that the Justin Timberlake-led MySpace would return to prominence. While J.T. didn’t struggle to bring sexy back, he proved that there was no bringing back the once-powerful social network after his acquisition in 2011.

Look at what the share of social media platform usage looked like in September 2014, and you’ll find that Snapchat wasn’t even in the top five. This data precedes Snapchat’s rollout of its Stories feature, which gave it the boost in popularity that ultimately allowed it to compete with the big dogs like Facebook and Twitter.

So, ultimately, we can forecast based on data and usage statistics, but in an industry where things can turn on a dime at a moment’s notice, it’s impossible to say with any degree of certainty what’s coming down the pipeline in four years, two years or even one year from now.

Trusted familiarity and a perfect model for copycatting

If imitation is the best form of flattery, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg should be tickled pink. Snapchat’s new and improved pixel was modeled entirely after Facebook’s, but Snapchat is struggling to keep up with its competitor’s advancements.

While the adoption of this pixel has provided marketers with increased data trackability, it does so without the bells and whistles of the fine-tuned Facebook machine. Facebook offers businesses more advanced targeting by providing the most trackable data of any social media network—with the added comfort of existing platform familiarity.

In true copycat fashion, Snapchat also recently adopted Facebook’s mobile measurement model. This gives Snapchat marketers a set of attribution and analytics providers, offering a deeper dive into crucial insights for campaign optimization. And it tuned its custom lookalike audiences to the key of Facebook, but it’s a song only Zuckerberg can sing.

Snapchat can “borrow” these improvements all day, but Facebook’s multitouch attribution model and meticulously refined targeting ability position it as the top dog for marketing ad spend, with no hierarchy revolt in sight.

Dual-platform advantage

If Snapchat is firing a rifle, Facebook is dual-wielding machine guns. As I mentioned before, Snapchat is projected to have the most growth in young users through 2022, but Facebook has two ponies in the advertising race. With adolescents flocking to Facebook’s not-so-secret weapon, Instagram, advertisers can reap the benefits of two very different platforms under one roof.

According to Social Media Today, Instagram’s graphic-centric content model dominates as the most popular social media network among teens. Facebook maintains its rank as the most popular platform for millennials, Gen-Xers and baby boomers, offering streamlined advertising between both platforms.

Zuckerberg opened up ad placements between the two platforms, keeping CPMs (costs per thousand impressions) down for advertisers. In addition to lower lead costs, this provides a secondary benefit to marketers: the ability to advertise on two very different platforms with the same investment, and the ability to access all of their tracking data using the same ads manager, creating otherwise unparalleled consistency and convenience.

Elevated buying power

While the term “millennial” has evolved into a bit of a dirty word, it defines the group of people who have grown to become the bread and butter of American capitalism. With the most spending power of any generation, marketers are tailoring edgier, more relevant content to this audience to get a piece of the pie—a pie worth $1.3 trillion annually, making it the mecca for intelligent ad spend.

Take, for instance, your first car. If you were cooler than I was, your parents got you a shiny new Jeep when you turned 16. You may have had influence on the decision, but who was it with the buying power? It certainly wasn’t a high school sophomore logging 15 hours per week at Dairy Queen.

With Facebook’s tried-and-true model, a car dealership could specifically target millennial parents with high-school-aged children. I highly doubt that kind of return is viable through Snapchat advertising only.

Although Snapchat is gaining traction with American teenagers, the focus of intelligent marketing should remain on Facebook. Targeting the generations with the most spending power is the most impactful way to optimize your clients’ marketing dollars—increasing their ROI and improving your retention. Until adolescents have more impact on the economy, your ad spend is best utilized on what’s always been the most reliable social platform.

So, don’t feel bad about telling those kids to get off your lawn—that is, until they have their parents’ credit cards.

Josh Sample is founder and operating partner of digital marketing agency Drive Social Media.