While YouTube creators have struggled for years trying to get viewers to click through to external sites or make purchases, paid advertising appears to be faring better. A new study from AOL Platforms shows YouTube is the best social platform for introducing new products and influencing customers’ purchasing decisions.

According to VentureBeat, the report used attribution technology from Convertro to track 500 million clicks and 15 million conversions in the first quarter of 2014. Through this data, AOL Platforms was able to figure out which social sites were most involved in online sales and which ones were most effective during different “stages” of the purchasing/funnel process.

Online purchases can be broken down into a few different stages. The first entails an introduction to the product, the middle stage involves more targeted ads or marketing efforts, and the last stage finds customers doing research on their own about a product they found in one of the first two stages (though a purchase can be made at any point during all the stages). This new report found that YouTube is the most effective social media platform at both ends of the stage spectrum — it succeeds at both introducing products and helping to sell them (represented in the 18% and 14% bars below).

YouTube Advertising Converts Better Than Facebook, Twitter, Google+ by Bree Brouwer of Tubefilter

“We believe that YouTube does well in both of these important purchase funnel areas for a number of reasons,” Jeff Zwelling, CEO and co-founder at Convertro, told VentureBeat. “YouTube’s own search volume and preferential positioning on Google’s results help drive large amounts of traffic, of course. But when you get to YouTube, the content is rich, descriptive, and usually helpful.”

AOL Platform’s report found paid advertising on YouTube converts better than most other social platforms in regards to introducing and selling products. Facebook is the second-best converter, with Google+ placing third. Interestingly enough, Twitter was dead last.

However, the report noted Twitter’s high effectiveness during the middle stage (see the chart above, where Twitter has 92% effectiveness in the middle stage). Zwelling said the social site “is much more likely than any other marketing channel to provide the customer with brand awareness and consideration of a product.” This means smart marketers should consider a mix of several social platforms, using them in conjunction with each other to drive as much awareness and conversion as possible.

The report goes on to outline some other key factors which affect conversion, such as the actual product marketers are trying to sell (for example, subscription-based services sell well on social compared to technology products), and the reality that sponsored advertisements on almost all social platforms are quickly outpacing organic reach.

Overall, though, these findings just confirm businesses marketing and selling their products on YouTube are doing it right. If you want to read more of the report’s details and stats, head on over to AOL Platform’s site, enter your information, and download the report for free.

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