Social media spend study shows digital marketing’s Covid ‘resiliency’ one year on

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A year since the first lockdown was implemented in the United Kingdom, it seems an appropriate time to assess the Covid-influenced shifting social media landscape. According to Socialbakers, global social media ad spend and reach continued to grow in 2020 in spite of the pandemic.

The findings, which appear in the company’s latest report, ‘State of Social Media Marketing A Year After Covid’, saw a gradual uptick from March onwards. Not surprisingly, there was a drop at the beginning of spring 2020, followed by a swift recovery.

By November 2020, levels of global social media ad spend had returned to 2019 levels. Yet the signs look good for progress given the developments at the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021. In many regions, year over year holiday peak spending doubled, remaining at an elevated level for early in 2021. “Even as regions open up more, habits have been changed and digital is going to remain strong,” the report noted.

Looking at specific platforms, the global average for Facebook ads reach increased by 30% in 2020 compared with the previous year. Regional increases were as high as 96% in one place. Socialbakers assessed two theories behind this. Firstly, increased spending by businesses on Facebook was driving more advertised content on the News Feed. Secondly, this could be a sign of a change in consumer behaviour, with a greater likelihood of engaging with advertising.

When it came to the brass tacks of click through rates (CTRs), the data saw a ‘remarkably consistent’ pattern. April 2020 saw a drop, remaining above 0.8%. The average over the past 16 months was over the 1% mark (1.01%), taking into account the first global lockdowns and the traditional post-holiday dip.

“That type of consistency speaks to the confidence that marketers feel when looking at where to spend their budget,” the report noted. “No matter what else is going on, they can find engagement on digital channels.”

Ultimately, the report recommends that while digital marketing has been resilient, social commerce and a ‘digital-first mindset’ will ensure organisations progress.

“Based on the past 12 months of ad spend and ads reach trends, the biggest takeaway for advertisers is that the digital marketing community is resilient and able to adapt to the most challenging circumstances,” said Yuval Ben-Itzhak, president at Socialbakers. “The digital transformation efforts that have taken hold over the last year – from in-app purchasing to the influx of businesses launching online buying options – will only bolster digital marketing tactics and deepen confidence in social ad spend.”

This echoes a piece which Ben-Itzhak wrote for MarketingTech in December. The acquisition of Kustomer, a startup CRM platform, by Facebook, ‘underscored just how important customer service features [were] to the SMBs that advertise on the social platform’, he wrote. “By integrating more customer service tools and expanded customer experience capabilities, Facebook is positioning itself to own even more of the customer journey,” wrote Ben-Itzhak.

You can read the full report here (pdf, email required).

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