Social was a better bet than portals, networks, and exchanges last year for reaching users that can be consistently marketed to (“user quality index”), according to the latest quarterly “Global Media Intelligence Report” from Neustar Aggregate Knowledge. The study reveals that social ads performed 52% better than the 4-channel average in delivering such quality users during Q4. In fact, social ads performed better than the average during each quarter of the year.

Social also emerged as the best option for reaching exclusive users at the lowest cost throughout the year. On the measure of “reach efficiency,” social ads scored an impressive 129% higher than the average during Q4; as it did with the “user quality index,” social ended up as the only channel to outperform the average for “reach efficiency” during each quarter of the year.

During Q4, exchanges emerged as the most cost-effective channel (cost in relation to driving impressions, clicks, and conversions – measured by CPM, CPC, and CPA), with an index of -250, compared to indices of -150 for networks, 50 for social, and 350 for portals, the most expensive option.

The study also demonstrates that a pure last-touch attribution model underestimates the value of social. When using a multi-touch attribution model instead of a last-click model, the results indicate that social saw its value increase during each quarter of the year. That owes to social exerting more influence in the upper funnel.

About the Data: The data analyzed in the report covered approximately 145 billion ad events, 61 billion impressions, and 10.5 million conversions.

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