After a few long months of research — including selecting the seven most significant vendors and conducting in-depth briefings, demos, and customer references — I am pleased to announce that the inaugural Forrester Wave™ evaluation of social advertising platforms is now live!

The social advertising space is a rapidly growing and maturing category. Social advertising generates more than 85% of revenue for both Facebook and Twitter, and marketers’ spend is trending sharply upward. In fact, the vendor customer references I spoke with for this evaluation spent an average of $512,000 per month on social ads. However, the public social networks’ native tools are insufficient for enterprise marketers manage this spend. Vendors have responded with products intended to help marketers achieve outcomes that justify the effort and spend.

We define this category as:

Platforms that help marketers buy, manage, optimize, and measure ads on public social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

These platforms are best used by marketers seeking to reach new customers who aren’t already aware of their offerings; they should be used alongside both TV and search ads as well as social reach tactics, such as influencer and advocate marketing.

We selected vendors that have a standalone social offering, a strong self-service platform, a critical mass of enterprise customers, and customers that spent more than $50 million on social advertising through the vendor in the 12-month period ending July 1, 2013. The best vendors help with analytics and measurement capabilities; measure beyond the social network's walls; and integrate social advertising with other reach tactics and types of ads. 

To see how the vendors — Kenshoo, Marin Software, Nanigans, Optimal,’s, Shift, and Unified — compare, please read the report; let me know you what you think, either here or on Twitter. In addition to the report, Forrester clients can download an Excel tool to tailor the Forrester Wave by altering Forrester’s weightings to create a custom vendor shortlist. The link is in the right-hand column under the Tools & Templates heading.

Finally, I must thank my content editor David Truog, my research associate and Forrester Wave expert extraordinaire Sarah Takvorian, and my editor Diane Lynch for their hard work on this report. It wouldn’t have been possible without them.