Research Finds Half of 2020 Marketing Budgets Will be Allocated to Social Media Ads

January 23, 2020

Marketers expect to invest heavily in social automation technology to streamline inefficiencies., the leading social media advertising automation platform for creative and performance marketers, today announced new research outlining how retail marketers plan to spend their advertising budgets in 2020. Commissioned by and conducted by WBR Insights, the research arm of the eTail event series, the survey results indicate that social media advertising will be a primary focus for retail brands hoping to reach consumers where they are most active.’s research revealed that 52 percent of retail marketers will spend more on social advertising than they did in 2019. Further, 50 percent of retail advertisers are planning to spend at least half of their annual marketing budget on social media advertising. With eMarketer estimating that U.S. digital ad spend would reach $129 billion by the end of 2019,’s data indicates that retail marketers plan to allocate nearly $65 billion to social media ads in the decade’s first year. When compared to 2019, 96 percent of respondents plan to bump up their spending on Facebook this year, while Twitter (56 percent) and Instagram (22 percent) also see healthy increases.

In terms of where retail marketers currently advertise, Twitter (75 percent) and Instagram (59 percent) fare well, but Facebook is far and away their favorite social advertising platform, with 96 percent adoption. In fact, 36 percent reported that Facebook is the platform they dedicate the most spend toward, and 41 percent say it also gives them the best return on ad spend (ROAS).

“The past decade put social advertising on the map for most retail marketers, and our findings indicate that it will only continue to grow in 2020,” said Robert Rothschild, VP and global head of marketing at “Retail marketers recognize the value that social media ads bring to their campaigns, and they are focused on understanding which levers to pull to generate even more engagement and revenue. Capturing the attention of today’s consumer demands that advertisers tell stories that seamlessly blend with the organic content that their audience already consumes. Investing in visual storytelling enables retail marketers to connect with consumers on an emotional and highly relevant level. Shifting spend to story ads, diversifying across social networks like Pinterest, bridging the gap between performance and creative teams, and investing in technology to scale creative and deliver incrementality in ad performance are ideal solutions that will allow teams to work faster and smarter in the year to come.”

Although marketers see a positive return on their dollar, many admit that the process is often still too manual and inefficient to easily manage. Survey results showed that 83 percent feel that there is room for improvement when it comes to automating parts of their ad creation and deployment, and 66 percent do not use any automation technology. To reduce these inefficiencies, 39 percent of retail marketing teams indicated that they will invest in more robust social advertising tools in 2020.

Additional findings from the study include:

  • 29 percent of retail marketers noted Instagram is the social network where they spend the most on social ads
  • Nearly half (48 percent) feel their performance marketing and creative teams do not collaborate effectively in all stages of the marketing process
  • 61 percent say that their creative production and ad delivery involves manual processes that are often time-consuming
  • 47 percent of retail marketers plan to increase their use of dynamic ads on social media
  • 39 percent predict they will manage social advertising in-house
  • 35 percent feel that their KPIs will change from how they were measured in 2019

Download the complete research report on our website. recently raised €200 million in funding in December 2019 to support future growth of the company. Visit’s website to learn more about its capabilities, and follow on Twitter for the latest updates on company announcements.

About the Study

In November of 2019, partnered with WBR Insights and eTail to survey 100 U.S. retail marketing decision-makers to understand their plans for social media advertising in 2020. Respondents spanned roles in brand marketing, eCommerce and sales, creative and design, product and performance marketing, and digital advertising, and gave their answers via phone call. All respondents were age 18+ and located in the U.S., and represented retail brands generating over $200 million in total annual revenue in sectors like apparel, home furnishing, hardware, electronics and appliances, specialty retail, sporting goods, department stores, entertainment and hospitality, supermarkets, and toys.


Powering beautifully effective ads, automates every step of social advertising to unlock greater performance and creativity. We combine creative production and ad buying automation with outstanding customer service to help 600+ brands scale their results – not headcount – on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. We are a fast-growing community of 350+ Smartlies with 16 offices around the world, managing over €2.5B in ad spend and growing rapidly and profitably. Visit to learn more.


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