Despite the series of headwinds that Facebook — er, Meta — has faced over the last few years, not least of which is the targeting and measurement hit it took from Apple’s iOS and ATT moves, surprisingly the company remains the same fast-growing ad juggernaut it ever was for performance marketers.
According to just issued report from performance agency Tinuiti, Facebook and its ever-growing cousin Instagram, still get the job done in moving the sales needle. We will find out exactly how much growth they secured on Feb. 2, when Meta announces full-year 2021 revenue and profit.
But for now, in its Facebook Ads Benchmark Report, Tinuiti said its clients increased their Meta ad spend 32 percent year over year in fourth quarter 2021 — and that represented only a slight decrease from spend in third quarter.
“They’re fairly unique in terms of their ability to reach new consumers at scale with products to put new [advertisers] in front of fresh consumer faces,” said Andy Taylor, vp of research for the agency. “Facebook itself is obviously having to make adjustments on its end in terms of how audiences work in order to better keep the targeting targeted. But it just goes back to the fact that it’s just a very powerful marketing opportunity. And so until users really start fleeing the platform in any kind of meaningful degree, it’s going to continue to be a big part of how brands market themselves.”
Taylor pointed out that any loss of users by Facebook can be made up by sibling Instagram’s growth. “Even if people were to flee Facebook, iInstagram wouldn’t take as big a hit,” he said. “And Instagram in particular is finding new inventory sources all the time as well, to help boost growth on that platform.”
One reason for that is, Meta/Facebook has made it easy for marketers to get what they need by reverse-engineering the normal way marketers and agencies buy media, said Konrad Feldman, CEO of data-leaning ad-tech firm Quantcast.
“If you think about the way Facebook operates for advertisers, they made it very easy for them — unlike most DSPs, which make the user specify all the levers they need to pull and then keep track of it all, and change as the environment changes which is really complex,” said Feldman. “Facebook Ads Manager asks the marketer: tell me your objective (you want to sell more product), and give me your constraints (you can’t deliver to certain countries, for example), and the machine learning works it out, so you can get campaigns set up more quickly.”
Taylor also noted that Apple’s ATT privacy moves had only a minimal impact on the social giant’s ad sales efforts. “Their targeting is still fairly powerful, despite the issues with Apple ATT limiting how well you can retarget individuals,” he said.
Although Facebook’s desktop audience share dropped at the end of 2021, mobile usage picked up accordingly, the report also cited.
Relating to that mobile usage, Tinuiti’s report addressed how the effect of Apple ATT limiting in-app advertising has led to an increased demand for Android users. “There is now relatively more demand for those individuals who can still be targeted and measured using mobile IDs,” read the report, which also noted that iOS spend share declined over the course of 2021.
“iOS users are still seeing ads … but what’s happened is that the way that we could target those individuals has changed,” said Taylor. “That’s putting a lot of demand on those auctions, particularly within the Android space, and you’re seeing the CPM scale up as a result. There’s definitely a gap opened up between Android and iPhone that didn’t used to exist.
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