Facebook proves Covid-proof as spend hits record levels

facebook 11The early months of the Covid pandemic might have triggered a mass exodus from direct mail, TV, outdoor and even digital advertising but Facebook was the fastest to recover with brands spending at record levels.

That is according to the latest report from social media marketing platform Socialbakers, which shows year-over-year Facebook ad spend during the Christmas season doubled, and in the UK, adspend jumped 31% as digital channels became a key tool for reaching audiences sheltering at home.

Socialbakers president Yuval Ben-Itzhak said: “Year-over-year comparisons show ad spend has continued to climb into the first quarter of this year, indicating a strong confidence in digital advertising across regions.

“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. 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.”

Facebook ad reach (the number of users who view an ad at least once) also increased 30% globally in 2020 compared to 2019, with regional fluctuations varying between, a small decline of 1% in the UK to huge 96% jump in North America.

Ben-Itzhak added: “This overall increase in global ad reach can be attributed to a number of factors, one being that users are spending more time online interacting with branded content.

“Another factor is the sheer size of the Facebook audience. With over 2.7 billion users, no other platform can offer brands the same reach for their ads. The shift we’ve seen in consumer behaviour ​driven by the pandemic​ has been dramatic. And with more people spending time online, it’s likely consumers have been more eager to engage with ads – making it easier for Facebook’s algorithm to serve more ads to its users.”

In addition to Facebook ad reach and ad spend trends, Socialbakers has analysed sentiment trends towards vaccinations and found that Pfizer was the top healthcare brand worldwide when measuring Facebook interactions for posts related to the vaccine or virus.

But when it came to sentiment, AstraZeneca was the brand that saw the most significant change in positive sentiment over the same time period. In 2021 so far, fewer than 5% of Facebook conversations about AstraZeneca had been positive, compared to 40% during the same time period in 2020.

Other vaccine brands are seeing much less drastic fluctuations and much less negative sentiment overall. Johnson & Johnson saw 27% positive conversations so far this year, compared to 39% this time last year, and Pfizer 23%, compared to 27%. Moderna saw the lowest negative sentiment on average, at just 12%, versus AstraZeneca’s 32%, Johnson & Johnson’s 15%, and Pfizer’s 18%.

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