Over the next six months, nearly half (47 percent) of advertisers are expected to increase their social media advertising spending. Business intelligence firm Advertiser Perceptions says in its Social Media Advertising Report that this will be predominately on sharing networks and buying programmatically. Advertiser Perceptions interviewed more than 300 agency and marketing executives on their opinions on social media advertising, their buying plans and perception of networks and platforms.

Advertisers now dedicate, on average, one quarter (24 percent) of their digital advertising budgets to social media, Advertiser Perception found. And that social media spending is predominantly for brand, not performance advertising—61 percent of advertisers are out to build brand awareness, while only 38 percent are focused on generating offline sales.

“Social media has the capacity to drive brand advertising online,” says Randy Cohen, president of Advertiser Perceptions. “More marketers are looking to social media for awareness and engagement campaigns than for performance measures.”

Advertiser Perceptions’ research revealed that advertisers are prioritizing sharing networks, with nearly 90 percent advertising on personal networks—e.g., Facebook and Twitter—while 40 percent advertise on e-commerce platforms such as Amazon and Etsy, and 27 percent advertise on instant messaging apps such as Skype and WhatsApp. Over the coming year, marketers expect to increase programmatic buying by 20 percent with a corresponding drop in direct buying.

“Many [advertisers] want to do more social advertising, but they need to know how to improve and optimize,” said Cohen. “The more they do, the harder it gets to measure, and the further away a performance barometer seems to get.”

Only 10 percent of respondents in the survey consider their organizations expert in social media advertising and less than 50 percent have advanced social strategies and infrastructure. A large group of clients rely on outside agents for social expertise.