Editor’s note: Peter Wylie is Vice President and Account Director at Three Ships Media. Peter provides strategic leadership to Three Ships Media clients, directing the content generation, promotion, analytics and research activities that build audiences for clients.

RALEIGH, N.C. – Recently, upon return from the Search Engine Strategies conference, I documented three major concerns I hear from clients all the time that I heard echoed from participants and panelists at the conference. They were:

1. I need more low cost inventory
2. I don’t know where to put my incremental dollar
3. I don’t know if I’ll ever see $$$ from social media

The great news is that new solutions and approaches that are cropping up to deal with these issues, and I heard much interesting commentary about them at the show that I’ve reflected on and want to share.

1. Problem: I need more low cost inventory

Solution: Facebook, LinkedIn, and demand-side platforms equipped with real-time bidding and overlayed data present glowing opportunities for the savvy digital marketer to reach their audience for lower cost and with greater accountability than ever before. But—and it’s a big but—advertisers must not measure the performance of these channels the way they’ve measured other channels in the past. The amount of inventory available through Google AdSense and the demand-side platforms is increasing exponentially as content creators enter the marketplace at a greater clip than advertisers and their dollars. Prices will continue to decrease for display inventory, and while prices will rise due to high demand for Facebook and LinkedIn inventory, placements on these platforms are increasing from extreme discounts for their value. ($2.50 clicks from CEOs anyone?)

2. Problem: I don’t know where to put my incremental dollar

Solution: Enter the concept of multi-touch attribution. The marketer who is seeing positive ROI on search, should also think about the impact any other channels might be having in this process, and they should put a tool in place (if they can afford it) that will allow them to see how different channels play together to produce sales. Only after marketers gain better visibility into their funnel, will this question be answered satisfactorily.

The good news here is that lower cost platforms like KISSMetrics and Performable (now owned by HubSpot) allow smaller businesses to afford powerful enterprise multi-touch attribution and analytics. Google Analytics also recently rolled out multi-touch functionality, though concerns remain over its validity. Multi-touch analytics helps marketers understand whether they need to “feed the top of the funnel” with broad reach vehicles like display advertising and Facebook promotions, or capture more of the demand with search engine marketing improvements or landing page optimization.

3. Problem: I don’t know if I’ll ever see $$$ from social media

Solution: While this is the problem that still presents the most difficulty, because social media content is often higher in the funnel and not directly monetized, there are new tools and techniques that will make this process easier. First, all analytics platforms are starting to track social better, and allow for deeper understanding of how individuals who interact with social content move through to conversion. Second, Facebook is opening up and beginning to allow payment vendors to operate directly on Facebook tabs, which can be a powerful way to monetize a Facebook community. Third, LinkedIn continues to add advertising functionality, and improve features like Groups and Feeds to encourage the average user to spend more time on the platform. Marketers who rush to stop using social media are likely missing out on the most promising opportunities in these channels: those that have yet to come.

I’d love to hear if any of these problems are keeping you up at night, or if you’ve come across an even better solution for one of them.

(c) Three Ships Media

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