Social advertising trends in 2017: 61.5% increase in paid social media spend


There has been a 61.5% increase in paid media spend on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Snapchat for the first quarter of 2017, according to new research.


The study, from data science and media technology, 4C Insights, aggregated $130+ million in media spend for 900+ brands managed through their social ads platform.

Key findings include:

To assess social advertising growth in Q1 2017, 4C analysed a representative sample of the brands managed through the 4C Social Ads product on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Snapchat. The total sample included over $130 million in media spend for more than 900 individual brands.

In particular, the first quarter of 2017 was monumental for Snap. Snap revealed its Snap Ads API Partners, held its IPO, and introduced search for Stories. There is clearly strong momentum for Snapchat in the market as Snap Ads spend shot up 593% QoQ among 4C’s current mix of Snap advertisers from CPG, entertainment, finserv, teleco and others.

More generally across social, two main themes stood out – the transformation of how brands approach content and new methods for content delivery.

Content: embodying authenticity & urgency

Akin to Snapchat, Instagram unveiled a new shopping experience, delivered capabilities to share multiple photos and videos in a single post and released Instagram Stories ads globally in the first quarter. The rapid pace of innovation also brought monetisation as the visually-driven platform achieved an increase of 161% in spend through 4C YoY. Following up on the festive season, Instagram spend grew 8% quarter-over-quarter (QoQ).

As people consume more content created by their peers, they’re seeking brand content that has a similar vibe and aligns with their values. Emma Morgan, Paid Social Manager at global media agency MediaCom comments, “Personalisation is key. With the Data Protection Act, there is a real opportunity for brands to be really clever with the level of up-selling and cross-selling they can do that is relevant to the users while controlling frequencies.”

Kyle Jackson, SVP Group Director, Performance Media at full-service media agency Mediavest | Spark adds, “Snapchat’s features contribute to an environment where brands can be really creative, but the right creative is crucial. The company is also continuing to expand ad offerings that include live-streaming, 360-degree video ads, and shoppable ads. Brands should plan to create custom content for Snapchat that feels authentic and quickly connects with the user.”

Delivery: going live and deploying data

In the last quarter Facebook introduced Live Locations, new ways to go Live and watch video. Propelled by new features and products, the channel continued its strong growth with an increase of 81% in spend on 4C.

Twitter also announced new partnerships to bring original content and live programming to the platform. Increasing its investment most over Q4 on Twitter was CPG, which grew 198%. Food and beverage was up the most YoY, increasing 380%.

Kyle Jackson adds, “Twitter continues to pick up new live-streaming deals – including a recently-announced new capability that grants access to 1,500 hours of esports competitions – through new partnerships with ESL and DreamHack. This is a big opportunity for advertisers to buy TV-style ads against the live content.”

When it comes to reaching audiences, nothing has become more important than data. “We're in an interesting time for social advertising in 2017. At the moment, Facebook and Instagram hold a significant advantage in terms of the scale and targeting availability,” states Deborah King, Head of Paid Social, Essence.

90% of respondents think social can reach audiences TV cannot (4C Insights CRM Survey, February 2017). By implementing insights rooted in data, brands are able to reach audiences other channels cannot.

For B2B marketers, LinkedIn offers a treasure trove of targeting including job title, company, and more. Sean Cotton, president of digital media buying company Coegi, explains first-party data and custom audiences need to be utilised more in social advertising, “There is some very precise and granular targeting on social platforms due to the richness of the user data. Building on that with the data from your best customers makes it


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