LONDON: Social media drove record levels of qualified traffic to retail sites in the final quarter of 2013, with Tumblr and Pinterest showing the greatest overall increases in revenue per visit (RPV), a new study has revealed.

The Q4 2013 Social Media Intelligence Report, from tech company Adobe, analysed paid, earned and owned social media trends, based on aggregated and anonymous data from retail, media, entertainment, and travel sites over the past 12 months. Paid social data used for the study was based on data from customers of the Adobe Marketing Cloud service.

On the RPV metric, Tumblr rose 340% over the year, followed by Pinterest (244%), Twitter (131%) and Facebook (72%). In terms of the share of referred visits to retail sites, Twitter and Pinterest were growing fastest at 125% and 89% respectively.

"We expect Facebook's competitors to aggressively drive market share growth in 2014 by adding innovative paid media capabilities," said Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst at Adobe Digital Index.

But the report also cautioned that social media networks risked alienating users while they courted marketers.

And, even though the various networks would be seeking new ways to monetise their offering, Adobe said that "[t]he real race will not be between social media channels, but between marketer's allocation of dollars across search, display, and social".

The study also suggested that Facebook ads were becoming increasingly attractive to brand marketers due to growing consumer engagement, noting that global ad click volume on the site had risen 125% year on year. 

Ad impressions, however, had grown only 10% over that time. Adobe suggested this was evidence that consumers could have a greater appetite for ads than previously thought.

Social engagement with brand posts on Facebook rose 180% year on year while brand post impressions climbed 150%. The study further found that brand posts with images produced a 650% higher engagement rate than regular text posts, while posts with links, text or video yielded less engagement over the year.

The report also said that the digital marketing was becoming ever more complex, as social media channels added paid media capacity and capabilities.

"Optimising campaign spending across social channels and seeking a balance between CPCs and CPMs to drive ROI will become even more important," said Gaffney.

Data sourced from Adobe Digital Index; additional content by Warc staff