Paid social is one of the fastest-evolving spaces in digital performance marketing. Responding to advertisers’ needs for greater control, better targeting, and more accurate measurement, platforms are developing and launching more diverse and sophisticated ad features and solutions. Keeping up with all the latest releases as well as the competitive and performance trends can feel like a full-time job.
As part of our ongoing commitment to provide marketers with the insights they need most, iProspect today released the second edition of the Quarterly Paid Social Trends Report. This quarter’s report analyzes Q3 data from more than 210 brands advertising on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snap Inc., and Twitter (all of which are managed by iProspect U.S., though spend is not confined to just U.S. markets).
The report provides a detailed overview of what’s happening in the paid social channel overall and on specific platforms.
Selected key insights from the Q3 2017 report include:
- Platforms were busy with updates. During Q3, six platforms released more than seventy-five updates.
- Spend is up. As anticipated, Q3 spend is up 22% compared to Q2 of 2017, and 78% YoY compared to Q3 2016. The increase in spend over the prior quarter is typical for this time of year due to Back-to-School and a seasonal increase in prospecting as marketers prepare for the holiday season. The year-over-year (YoY) Q3 increase in investment is due primarily to the addition of increased prospecting budgets on top of existing awareness and lower-funnel budgets.
- Performance improves. The combination of platform updates and continued increases in both spend and adoption (particularly of optimized buying and bid strategies), has led to improved performance despite heavier competition during this time period.
- Budget trends varied widely by platform. While overall spend increased, individual social platforms saw radically different budget trends. On Twitter and Pinterest, spend decreased quarter-over-quarter (QoQ), 12% and 35% respectively, while Facebook spend grew 36%. Facebook’s growth can be attributed to their historically stronger performance against direct-response goals and to Q3 being a critical time period for many iProspect clients to drive sales.
- Adoption of Pinterest and Snap is on the rise. While spend is down on Pinterest and Snap, Inc., total brand adoption is up.
- Snap, Inc. saw a 60% YoY drop in CPM. Although this might be great for advertisers, the corresponding drop in advertising revenue is not great for Snap Inc. More concerning is the slow (2.9%) QoQ user growth, but we are hopeful that it will turn around in light of the company’s plans to redesign the app.
- Video makes big YoY gains. It has been just over a year since Facebook famously became a “video-first” company. While spend on social video ad placements is nearly flat compared to last quarter (only 2% growth), it has grown substantially–41%–since Q3 of 2016.
Download the full report for all the details about trends, opportunities, and what to expect in 2018. It’s never too early to start planning next year’s strategy.