As the year closes, we’re eager to review results and take stock of how predictions and trends are shaping up by the numbers. Looking across accounts, platforms, and devices, there are several key takeaways when comparing growth from Q3 to Q4 year-over-year for our clients. While these are dependent on individual brand and strategy, here are the broad strokes of what we’re seeing today.
- Black Friday is a digital holiday. Ecommerce is no longer limited to Cyber Monday. We’re seeing huge volume and growth as soon as the traditional shopping window begins on Black Friday.
- Volume is up across the board. It’s not just the high flyers, and overall, the compression of the holiday season this year hasn’t limited growth as much as many had feared.
- Facebook still rules ad spend. Instagram has had much higher year-over-year growth, but the majority of dollars are still spent on Facebook, and total Facebook platform ad spend growth of 44.7% from 2018 to 2019. There are a few reasons for this. First, for an older demographic, Facebook is still the hands-down platform of choice. Second, ad formats on Facebook have more richness and depth for businesses outside of ecommerce. Some formats, like lead gen forms in the news feed, have been unique to Facebook.
- Instagram Stories are white-hot. Anecdotally, we see a ton of engagement here, and by the numbers, our clients have doubled spend year-over-year, outpacing other areas of growth for Instagram. Overall Instagram ad spend growth was 84%. There still aren’t as many advertisers leveraging Stories, so this is partly a supply and demand equation. Everyone can create a static ad, but some are still hesitant to dive into Stories.
- Growth on mobile and desktop has converged. For Google Ads results, this is the first time that we’ve seen the same level of growth when comparing year-over-year. Mobile hasn’t swallowed the world, and there are many factors at play here, but they are now growing at the same rate after years of being dramatically different. Tablet growth has decreased, which we see as a result of phone screens getting larger.
- YouTube continues to be a behemoth. YouTube results are now fully integrated into the Google Ads platform, so as spend year-over-year has slowed per se, but it’s still grown considerably at 40%. The deceleration is a product of the integration as advertisers were going from a world of contextual targeting based on video content to now targeting based on the user.
- Twitter isn’t an effective direct response platform for most. We aren’t finding as much success as we would like, even for the largest brands. This is based on both the way Twitter functions and the lack of targeting available in the platform as compared to Facebook and Google.
- Snap remains successful for its community. For advertisers that have found past success on Snap, they continue to drive results there. However, for those with a more modest marketing budget, it becomes much harder to justify, as we’ve found it to be more of a discovery tool.
- If you sell products, Pinterest is a prime opportunity. It’s a great discovery piece while having a nice long-tail upside as well, and we’ve found incremental gains there for a variety of brands. Of course, if you’re among a set of certain verticals, such as design, decor, travel, or weddings, to name a few, Pinterest is a massive growth channel.
- Amazon is growing, but it’s not the third leg of the stool. We’re seeing a lot of dollars that didn’t exist before being spent on this channel, coming from buckets like retail and merchandising as opposed to other categories of digital spend. Amazon is absolutely a key channel, but it hasn’t reached the presence of Facebook or Google by a long shot.