Smartly Survey: 52% of Consumers Find Gift Inspiration from Social Media Ads

September 28, 2021

U.S. consumers’ mindsets this holiday season show growing interest in purchases on social media, personalized content, and flexible optio, the leading social advertising automation platform for creative and performance marketers, today announced new survey findings that highlight consumers’ plans and preferences for this holiday shopping season, including how social media ads impact their decision-making. Conducted by Dynata, the survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers reveals that more than half (52%) of respondents have found inspiration for a gift idea from a social media ad, while 42% say they’ve purchased a gift directly from a social ad. These insights underscore how brands can utilize ads on these platforms to capture new audiences and maximize sales goals during the increasingly busy and competitive holiday season.

With a continued push toward e-commerce in mind,’s survey findings – including year-over-year trends from prior studies – point to a growing interest among consumers to use social media to aid their online shopping journeys. Specifically, 57% of respondents say they are open to making holiday gift purchases directly via a social media ad this holiday season.

According to’s 2020 holiday survey, 30% of U.S. consumers said they were planning to purchase gifts from social media ads during the holiday season. Additionally, last year’s survey findings showed 34% of consumers who have purchased holiday gifts via social media ads clicked an ad on Facebook. This year Facebook and Instagram are the most popular platforms people consider purchasing holiday gifts from – at 52% and 37% respectively.

“Over the past year and a half, brands have had to adapt to changing consumer behaviors to meet their online shopping needs,” said Robert Rothschild, CMO, VP & Global Head of Marketing, “As we head into another holiday shopping season impacted by the pandemic, retailers must continue this adaptability and seek to understand shoppers’ behaviors and preferences. From our latest survey, we’re seeing a greater opportunity for consumers to discover, and even purchase, products and services from their social media feeds. To capitalize on this environment and differentiate, brands should look to create winning campaigns that prioritize creative ad strategies across social platforms.”

Additional key findings from the survey include:

Discounts, trustworthiness, and visual appeal influence consumers’ decisions to buy through social ads

While a variety of factors influence the decision to buy a product through social media ads, discounts remain at the top of the list (60%), a trend also seen in’s 2020 survey (39%).

  • 34% noted the ad needs to be eye-catching and visually appealing to prompt them to purchase, while 32% marked relevant and personalized ads as an additional influencing factor.
  • 44% are influenced to make a purchase from social media ads if the brand seems trustworthy and respects their data.
  • Additionally, 39% said image and in-feed ads are what they are most likely to purchase a holiday gift item from.

Consumers want personalized content, but they also want options

  • To tip a consumer over the edge to make a purchase via social ads, it comes down to giving them what they want, as well as the flexibility of having multiple options.
  • 70% of survey respondents said they would be more inclined to make a holiday gift purchase via a social media ad if the ad showcases products that are in stock at their local stores – a massive indicator that personalization speaks volumes to shoppers.
  • Nearly half (47%) said they would be more likely to purchase holiday gifts if they were offered “buy now, pay later” options in their social media ads while slightly more will be inclined to make a purchase when offered Buy Online, Pickup In Store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup options (52% and 51%, respectively).

Home goods breaks into the top three holiday gift categories

  • 47% of consumers indicated they plan to shop for home goods from social media ads this holiday. Global shutdowns in 2020 spurred many consumers to start DIY and home improvement projects, and the consumer interest seems to remain
  • Apparel & accessories maintain the top category where consumers will make holiday gift purchases this year (62%), with electronics not too far behind (51%).

Learn more about this latest research from, and how brands can capitalize on their social advertising strategies this holiday season.

About the Study

In a study commissioned by, Dynata surveyed 1,000 consumers to understand their attitude, behavior, and preferences toward e-commerce and digital & social ads coming out of the pandemic – as well as their stance on data privacy and brand trust. Respondents were located in the U.S. and were over the age of 18. The survey was conducted in July 2021.


How Consumers are Shopping this Holiday Season

Get the Ebook