CHICAGO: Social media will enjoy a substantial increase in ad revenues in the next few years, and total spending through this channel could ultimately even eclipse that for online search, the audience at the ad:Tech Chicago Conference 2009 heard this week.

Speaking at the event – covered by Geoffrey Precourt, WARC's US editor, here – Aaron Goldman, of Connectual, a digital marketing company, quoted Forrester's prediction that interactive revenues will post a compound annual growth rate of 17% over the period from 2008–2014.

Within this, social media is expected to register the highest overall CAGR, at 34%, followed by mobile marketing, on 27%, with email, display and search also all in the double digits.

Goldman further referenced a survey by Forrester of 200 marketers, which found that 60% of participants will divert funds from their traditional media budgets to interactive, meaning the medium's market share will rise from 9% in 2008 to 19% in 2014.
"A year ago, flat was the new up," he observed, adding that, for online marketing at least, it could now reasonably be argued that "up is the new up."

Rishad Tobaccowala, ceo of Denuo and chief innovation officer of Publicis Groupe Media, similarly said that social media "is going to be the tsunami to overcome marketing in the next decade. In time, it will be bigger than search."

The growth of sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and the increasing prominence of devices facilitating a "portable digital experience" will be among the major contributors to this trend, he added.

However, at the same event, Sean Finnegan, president/chief digital officer at Starcom MediaVest Group, warned that social media may be very "powerful, but it's fragmented and needs to be thought through."

"We're excited, and we're heavy users," said Finnegan. "But where is it in business? Where is it in reach? In custom application development? In listening tools?"

To WARC's full Conference Report from the ad:Tech Conference in Chicago, click here.

Data sourced from WARC