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How Consumer Expectations Are Shaping Social Advertising Around the World

Riikka Söderlund Oct 13, 2020 3:40:27 PM

Back in May 2020, we surveyed consumers across the globe to understand their preferences around social media ads in light of the pandemic. Months later we wanted to see how things have or have not changed from the consumers’ point of view, and what this means for brands. 

Surveying over 2,000 consumers in August 2020, we uncovered that while some consumer preferences have returned to normal, others still vary greatly compared to pre-pandemic times. 

With the survey, we want to help brands gain a deeper understanding of the global social advertising landscape and empower them to thoughtfully connect with consumers. Here is what we found:

Purchases Through Social Are Up

In May, 48 percent of global consumers said they made purchases through social ads over the last 30 days, now up to 51 percent in August. However, patterns vary per country - 38 percent of Italian consumers said they made a purchase from a social ad in the last 30 days, and in Spain the number was 17 percent.

In other parts of the world, however, numbers are increasing - India, for example, jumped from 73 percent in May to 78 percent in August. Similarly, 81 percent of Mexican and Brazilian consumers said they have made a purchase of social media in the past 30 days. 

Budget Volatility

Cost per Mille (CPM), fell in concert with the decreased ad spend and increased ad usage at the beginning of the pandemic. Since then, the industry has experienced extreme volatility.

In fact, fluctuation of U.S. retail CPM rates over the past 6 months indicates major potential for U.S. retailers to adopt social advertising into their marketing mix and experience immediate benefits. So, more than ever before, it is important for brands to be relevant in their ads to keep performance levels consistent.

Facebook Leading the Way

When we asked consumers what their number one go-to platform on social media during the pandemic was Facebook dominated the field in all countries. In fact, 43 percent of global consumers select Facebook as their top platform during the pandemic - YouTube (24 percent) and Instagram (15 percent) followed.

Facebook also reported a surge in the use of its messaging tools, especially during the lockdown. With Pinterest, Snap and TikTok following suit, the pandemic served to increase platform engagement across the board.

Consumers Gravitate to Stories

Stories are convincing CMOs of the importance of being visually appealing in a world where users’ feeds are carefully curated. In Brazil, for instance, the appetite for Story ads is exceptionally high, with 25 percent of local respondents selecting that as the format they are most open to receiving on social media — other countries hovered around the low teens.

Across the board, messaging apps or chatbots were the least popular among consumers. The bottom line is that content that ‘looks like an ad’ will be ignored, but content that blends in seamlessly alongside what consumers are already viewing on social will have a much greater shot at capturing attention.


To learn more, check out our full report here: The Evolution of Social Advertising in 2020.

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Riikka Söderlund

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