social-media-graphicAt midnight tonight the world is stepping into the New Year and social media is already buzzing with excitement. As the hour approaches in every time zone, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram will all be filled with updates from parties and celebrations from around the world. It is an appropriate way to ring in a new year that will almost certainly continue the global domination of social media.

The past year has seen record numbers for the most popular social media platforms of the moment, and even Facebook continues to grow their audience at a regular pace by reaching new demographics who have been hesitant to adapt to the new social age. But, social media could be notable for something new. This year could very possibly be the year ads on social media become a complete part of social media.

Of course, social media ads are far from new. Barely anyone can imagine their Facebook dashboard without the standard ad bar on the right side of the screen. But, the ad platforms used by the biggest social media sites have hit a turning point where they are growing into their own service. Facebook has greatly improved the customization of their ad service this year, and Twitter’s ad platform transformed from a ramshackle affair to a fully realized service. But what they have in store for 2014 looks to be even bigger.

Facebook is already testing a feature which will likely receive a lot of attention next year. It is natural that Facebook would eventually find a way to implement video advertising similar to the TV or YouTube ads we are all accustomed to, and their new video sharing function allows them an easy way to do just that.

As you’ve likely already noticed, Facebook allowed users to more easily share and see videos this year by remodeling the way they display videos in the News Feed. By setting the videos to autoplay silently when they shown on screen, the videos are automatically eye catching, without being intrusive. It sounds like the video ads they are testing follow almost exactly the same format, which is likely to see quick growth should it be implemented.

Meanwhile, John Lee from Search Engine Land recently discussed how Twitter filing for their IPO this year is a solid indicator that you can expect a closer attention to ads in the very near future. Simply put, now that Twitter is beholden to shareholders, there is going to be an increased emphasis on ad revenue and increased outreach.

Facebook and Twitter aren’t the only social media platforms to be increasingly show ads within their site. The more niche platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest have also begun testing ad units within their platform which will bring a whole new style of advertising to social media. Both platforms have strict rules discerning what ads are allowed within their tests, and it seems they are aiming to implement ads while keeping their distinctive style.

To top it all off, 2014 could be the year Google+ finally sees some form of ads. While Google may keep delaying the decision to place advertising within Google+ until they finally find a larger audience, the recent announcement of +Post Ads being tested could be a sign that changes are on the way. +Post Ads are not advertisements themselves, strictly speaking. They are a way for brands to advertise notable Google+ posts across Google, but there is still the lingering question of when ads will actually appear in Google’s flavor of social media.

For brands looking to continue their online growth over the next year, the surge of social media advertising is good news and bad news. Improved advertising platforms offer a better variety of ways to market your brand or products in the most effective ways. But, as Facebook recently admitted, it also means the playing field is beginning to become a bit uneven. Increasing your outreach online may become costly in the future, which could be a deal breaker for many of the smaller businesses currently taking advantage of social media.

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