After a plunge in Facebook ad prices when the pandemic first hit this spring, the social network's advertising costs remained relative amid a summer of social unrest, a boycott of the platform by advertisers, and a controversial election season in which the tech giant played a prominent role high role.
This emerges from a new report by growth marketing agency Aisle Rocket that examined how the turbulent events of 2020 affected ad prices for their customers. The White Paper concluded that after an initial standstill at the start of the pandemic, Facebook ad metrics were showing relative resilience given current events that could have jeopardized the bottom line.
"We really felt there was a lot of missing information, namely that no one is actually posting data on Facebook ad prices," said Noah Freeman, product director at Aisle Rocket. “When we started designing it, everything was really correlated – almost every customer would go up together, almost every customer would go down together. And what we found really interesting was how many world events showed up. "
Freeman said that prior to this year, general shifts in Facebook ad prices are usually due to changes in the Facebook algorithm or the holiday or summer season. This year marked the first time the agency has been able to align change with wider world events.
"For most years, world events are not shown very clearly in the ad data," Freeman said. “But world events are all that matters this year. Besides the boycott, there isn't much Facebook-specific news. "
The agency was able to show price changes in three major phases. From March to May, Facebook's ad metrics crunched as brands cut their advertising budgets amid the initial uncertainty of Covid-19. Then, when a global protest movement took off from June to July, Facebook advertisers shifted the focus of creativity to show solidarity with the social movements, and spending rebounded.
Eventually, several large advertisers joined a boycott in July and August to pressure Facebook to combat hate speech and misinformation on the platform. However, overall, the measures had little impact on Facebook's ad prices during this period, according to the report.
"What you can see is that if the boycott had been effective, you should have seen a really low ad price in July and a big jump in August when it ended and you didn't see that at all," Freeman said. “You saw a big drop in the first week of July, but you usually see that on the fourth of July. But then we didn't see that the jump in August that would have meant the boycott worked. "
While many brands returned to Facebook after the month-long boycott, some continued to hold out even after the end date. Uniliver, for example, just announced it would return to the platform after a six-month boycott in January.
Emarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson also confirmed that Facebook has now recovered from the damage the advertising boycott may have caused.
"Facebook has recovered well from both early pandemic advertisers when marketers ran ads across all media to repeat messaging or save money, and from the ad boycott in July," Williamson said in an email. "Despite its campaigning and content moderation challenges, it remains a port of call for advertisers looking to target a broad base of consumers."