Report: Facebook ad spend grows 62% YoY

New data released by marketing technology company 4C reveals spend across the major social and mobile platforms in the first quarter of 2018 increased year-over-year (YoY), with the greatest revenue growth on 4C seen by Snapchat (234 per cent) and Instagram (136 per cent).

Advertisers used digital platforms to engage audiences around large tentpole events and capture second-screen attention. The biggest UK events across the quarter were the Six Nations and Winter Olympic Games, pushing overall ad spend through 4C up 65 per cent YoY.

To assess the state of media, 4C analysed nearly $250 million (€202m) in ad spend, from a representative sample of the 1,000+ individual brands using its software platform. To gauge TV advertising trends, 4C’s Teletrax technology monitors 2,100+ TV global channels, keeping track of the biggest advertisers in the UK and around the world.

Interestingly, despite Cambridge Analytica headlines, data shows that Facebook ad spend through 4C increased 62 per cent YoY and specifically week-over-week during the weeks of March 17th (7 per cent) and March 24th (15 per cent) after the news broke. This is matched both weeks by 9 per cent increases in Instagram spending.

“We’re seeing continued strength for Facebook advertising despite the negative headlines,” noted Aaron Goldman, CMO at 4C Insights. “For some time now, marketers in the UK have been actively preparing for GDPR so they are comfortable dealing with issues pertaining to data collection. In this case the main issue is not related to advertising and the repercussions such as removal of Facebook Partner Categories have not had a material impact. Targeting solutions like those offered by 4C rely on public engagement data with brand content, not user-level access, so we expect further growth.”

Marketers optimise around audiences

More and more media is being consumed simultaneously and TV audiences are commonly using second or even third screens. In response, brands are making their own shift to capitalise on this behaviour and adopting an audiences-first strategy. By using intelligence and insights to discover audiences before targeting them on the most appropriate channels, marketers in Q1 drove engagement across platforms and screens.

In the 4C Q1 State of Media report, Sachin Gadhvi VP, Growth Marketing at Cars.com comments: “We are evolving to optimise around audiences instead of channels. The organisational challenge is to use audience and performance insights to grow and optimize your spend while still maintaining channel level specialisation.”

The consumer products sector powered ad spend across Snapchat and Twitter for the first quarter of 2018. Brands from this vertical increased quarterly spend by 78 per cent on Twitter and 31 per cent on Snapchat to reach their desired audience segments.

“Gen-Zers are expected to account for about 40 per cent of all consumers by 2020,” advises Carlee Benson, Media Strategy Manager at Mbuy, in the 4C report, “Trends like ephemeral marketing, influencer, and short-form video are favourites amongst this generation and need to be considered with a social media strategy.”

For Snapchat this is a hugely significant trend. In November 2017, the platform debuted a new layout replacing the Discover page with sponsored content and featured celebrity stories. Content such as branded Discover channels, Snap-exclusive Winter Games coverage from NBC, and the interactive Snap Map keep users engaged with the platform, helping advertisers target audiences. With Cost per Swipe Up (CPSU) increasing 13 per cent across the quarter, this shows the increased value of the platform’s advertising inventory for brands.

The dawn of TV’s next Golden Age

Q1 saw seasonally relevant campaigns from the likes of travel brands Kayak and TUI, who invested in 3,310 minutes of ad time and 2,666 minutes respectively. However, one of the biggest ongoing media moments for the last quarter was the Six Nations rugby tournament. Spread out over six weeks the competition saw ITV sponsor, McDonald’s, rise to third place in the overall TV rankings with 4,489 ad minutes.

While ongoing campaigns throughout the quarter enabled these brands to dominate the airwaves, the greatest social lift was driven by brands that successfully jumped on the Superbowl, led by T-Mobile with a 46,000 per cent increase in social engagement during the 2 minutes following its commercials.

“The 2018 Super Bowl showed marketers that television is not dying, as many have predicted, rather it is evolving into a multi-screen experience,” explained Goldman. “Consumers are now empowered to enhance, share, and discuss what’s on the big screen the moment it happens. In fact, there were over 3 million social media engagements around the clubs competing and more than 1 million engagements about Justin Timberlake on the evening of the game alone. To 4C and our clients, this is evidence that TV is entering a new Golden Age. With events like the World Cup coming up this summer, brands have opportunities to connect their advertising across screens and channels and get their message to the right people, in the right place, at the right time.”

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