Facebook Advertisers Settle Into New Normal as Coronavirus Impacts Ad Performance
COVID-19 has forced all marketers to take stock of ad performance and relevance at a time when many Americans are finding themselves in precarious health and financial situations. While some brands, particularly those centered around travel and live events, have been forced to pause campaigns, most marketers continue to invest in social advertising.
Here are some key learnings based on Facebook advertiser performance over the last few weeks.
The Cost of Ad Impressions Has Fallen Precipitously
The first trend that many brands are finding is that the cost of ad impressions is now markedly lower than it was earlier in the quarter and last year. This is true of both Facebook proper, where CPM was down 50 percent year-over-year to end March, as well as Instagram, which was down 40 percent year-over-year to end March.
This is most likely partially the result of those advertisers having been forced to pause ad campaigns exiting the auctions for these placements. With less competition for ad slots, advertisers don’t have to pay as much to gain visibility.
This means that brands can reach audiences that may have formerly been outside of their reach due to cost considerations, and many brands are capitalizing to the tune of significant increases in ad impressions.
Impressions Up Significantly to End Q1
With so many users logging onto social media and fewer advertisers to compete with, many marketers are finding it possible to significantly expand the number of impressions they’re able to drive with existing budgets. By the end of the first quarter, many had seen impression volume double compared to the same time last year.
As such, ads are now showing to many social media users who might not have been exposed to a brand’s creative previously. That makes it even more important for brands to leave a positive impression with users.
Messaging and Creative is as Important as it’s Ever Been
While performance marketers are certainly tuned in to the nuts and bolts of how pricing and impressions are trending since coronavirus began to affect everyday American life, it's also a crucial period for refocusing creative and ad copy.
Given the jarring shifts in lifestyle, health and economic concerns, brands have to be conscious of which audiences they’re targeting and what their messaging is during this time. Many are choosing to retool creative around the virus and are focused on properly positioning products and services under the lens of what life is now like for many consumers.
Metrics like pricing and impression growth are certainly important for performance marketers, but it's equally important to avoid coming off as tone deaf during this highly sensitive time when many consumers will remember how brands spoke to them.
Brands can now show ads on Facebook for far cheaper than was possible over the last couple of years, and that presents a major opportunity for retailers to share their message with consumers who are increasing screen and social media time. However, brands must be conscious of how they’re speaking to social media users, and adjust creative intelligently and empathetically to ensure sensitivity during this time.
Andy Taylor is director of research at Tinuiti, an integrated digital marketing solutions provider.