Study: HBO Max beats Disney+ in holiday social ad wars

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Social advertising competitive intelligence and brand analytics platform BrandTotal has released new data on how the world’s leading streaming services have advertised across top social media channels ahead of the Christmas holiday.

For the study, BrandTotal analysed paid social media ad campaigns for Disney+, HBO Max, Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV Plus, Peacock, and Paramount+ – across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn. In total, 3,164 paid social ads were analysed over a 30-day period, November 23rd to December 22nd. Key findings are as follows.

HBO Max wins on Paid Share-of-Voice

In an analysis of paid Share-of-Voice (SOV), which is defined by percentage of sponsored impressions, HBO Max dominated, with nearly 40 per cent (38 per cent) paid SOV. Meanwhile, Disney came in at 26 per cent. In total, HBO Max and Disney owned nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of all paid social media ad impressions for streamers.

“This is a two-horse race ahead of Christmas,” said Alon Leibovich, CEO & Co-Founder, BrandTotal. “Both HBO Max and Disney+ are being aggressive to court subscribers and drive retention. HBO Max is investing considerably, however, and has overtaken Disney+ who was outpacing them over the summer.”

Gen Z is Key for Streamers

Overall, Gen Z (18-24) was a key focus for the streamers analysed, with over half (53 per cent) of all ad impressions targeting that demographic. Meanwhile, 22 per cent targeted those 25-34, with 11 per cent targeting those 35-44. Just 14 per cent of all impressions targeted those over the age of 45.

Hulu (63 per cent) and Peacock (61 per cent) were the most likely to target Gen Z. The least likely were Netflix (37 per cent) and Paramount+ (39 per cent).

“The streaming space is interesting in terms of demographic social ad-targeting,” said Leibovich. “One might expect streamers to over-index on Gen Z impressions by a considerable margin. In reality, streamers recognize that younger audiences have largely cut the cord and are making a wider push to attract middle-aged and older audiences.”

Twitter is Most Popular Platform

Ahead of Christmas, streamers focused their social ad budgets on Twitter (49 per cent), followed by YouTube (31 per cent), Facebook (11 per cent), and Instagram (8 per cent). None of the streamers, with the exception of Netflix – and only at a very small scale – ran ads on LinkedIn during the period.

“Twitter has dominated heading into the Christmas holiday,” said Leibovich. “Over the last two weeks, half of all paid impressions were on Twitter. For comparison, Meta-owned platforms combined – Facebook and Instagram – only saw 20 per cent.”


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