Social media sales from social ads, virtual currency and subscription services could grow to $15 billion next year and double that figure by 2015. Facebook and Google will lead the way.
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Google is currently trying to challenge Facebook with its own social network, Google+. Facebook has more than 800 million users worldwide. Google+ may have 50 million after less than a month since it opened to the public.
Facebook is on track to make more than $4 billion in advertising this year, according to eMarketer. Google makes $30 billion a year from a combination of desktop search, mobile search and display ads served on YouTube and other properties.
“Marketers will begin to transition from ‘onetime placement and click of ads’ toward ‘ongoing engagement’ with the Internet user and will allocate a higher percentage of their advertising budget to social networking sites,” said Neha Gupta, senior research analyst at Gartner.
Google earlier this week acquired social analytics start-up SocialGrapple, a sign the company is actively looking to separate signal from noise in the growing glut of Google+ data.
Social gaming sales are on point to hit $3.2 billion this year, growing to $4.5 billion next year, with Facebook and partner Zynga responsible for a lot of that revenue. Google+ itself added games from Zynga and other social gaming developers in August.
There are also sales opportunities for social media subscription services such as LinkedIn, which Gartner believes will top $236 million in 2011 and total $313 million in 2012.