Dude, Where’s My Audience?

by Ryan D’Orazio, Director of Paid Digital Media

A guide through social media platforms, search engine stats, and how to utilize the various social media audiences to reach your digital marketing objectives.

Digital media has come a long way since the turn of the century with new platforms that seemingly redefine the landscape, popping up constantly. It seems like every year there’s a new social platform or online service that becomes a pop-culture phenomenon and shapes the way we digest content.

Starting in the early days of the internet, the search engine market share was spread between several “engines” that could offer similar results – AltaVista, Yahoo, and AskJeeves. Since January 2009, the global market share has been quite lopsided as more than 90% of all searches are completed through the most viewed website in the world, Google.com. Not only does Google present an opportunity for businesses to appear in relevant searches for free, but also to appear at the top using a pay-to-play approach that nets them $150B annually.


As a part of digital’s evolution, short videos have become a staple of media consumption. Starting with YouTube back in 2005, Vine having its moment in 2014, and now in 2022, you can view videos on pretty much any application or device – but especially Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You would be surprised to learn that TikTok, an app seemingly taking over the world, is not the number one video platform, and that honor still belongs to YouTube which is the second-most viewed website in the world.


Modern-day social media users total over 4B worldwide, spanning thousands of regions, demographics, interests, and behaviors. MySpace was the first successful social platform that allowed users to digitally network, essentially laying the foundation for social media as we see it today. However, MySpace is a great illustrator of how fast things change. They went from more than 115M users in 2008 to now being nearly obsolete after changing ownership several times.

Unheard of back in 2008, Facebook can now reach 70% of the US population and flourishes as a community-centric engagement channel bringing in more than $115B in ad revenue. Other platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn have about half of the reach of Facebook, given the professional user base and more focused content. Even so, LinkedIn receives 33% of all B2B marketing which is not a surprise given that 51% of US college graduates have a presence there.


Now, that’s not to say social media is the end-all-be-all when it comes to reaching your target audience. Before Netflix introduced video streaming in 2007, it was linear TV commercials (and before that newspaper ads) that would generate the most effective awareness. Within ten years of Netflix’s inception, linear TV spending dropped for the first time as US residents have been cutting the cord on cable; thus began the rise of CTV, or TVs connected to the internet.

CTV has changed how we digest TV shows and movies through streaming services. The reach of streaming services has grown so much over the past few years that CTV advertisements can now reach 92% of US households and are exponentially more cost-effective than linear TV ads. For example, the cost to run a targeted ad on Hulu could cost as low as $500 and reach 12,000 users whereas the going rate for TV spots during local news in major markets starts above $10,000.

As technology and digital media continue to evolve there is always going to be natural attrition from one platform to the next. It could be five years from now or 30, but every new platform that reaches the pinnacle of popularity will always have measurable audience segments and behaviors. The best advertisers understand their audience and know the best platforms they need to be active on to reach them.

history of social media and when platforms first peaked in popularity

Talk To Us

With decades of experience in politics, media, government, and public relations, Issues Management Group leverages our expertise to propel and protect established, transitioning, and emerging organizations.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.