Late last summer, we wrote a number of blog posts that kept pounding home a nauseating, exhausting theme; Q4 was going to be big. For businesses of all sizes, the long holiday season presented a much-needed opportunity to reconnect with past customers, find new ones, and drive sales after months of lockdowns and restrictions. Even with many states still employing a number of measures to reduce COVID-19 transmission, many businesses fared well, and it appears they finally leaned into the old adage; to make money, you gotta spend money.
There’s no tougher time to sign off on an ad campaign or new project than when revenue is down, and we’ll be the first to say that the way out of a slump isn’t always to open your wallet. There are simply too many variables to diagnose low sales as a result of low ad spend. However, just as stimulus can revive and drive a national economy, the careful injection of spend can get the wheels turning again.
As the marathon that was 2020 finally ended, brands embraced digital marketing like never before. We called it, the industry called it, everyone knew it was coming, but to see some of the numbers really does illustrate just how integral these efforts have been to keeping business moving forward.
According to a report from SocialBakers, worldwide digital ad spend was up over 50% at its peak during the holiday season in 2020 compared to the same point in 2019. Throughout the entire quarter, numbers were even more impressive. Compared to Q4 the year prior, worldwide total ad spend was up 92.3% at its peak, with video seeing the most marked rise, especially in China.
While it’s a little more difficult to measure, influencer marketing didn’t fare quite so well. SocialBakers found that the #ad tag, often used as a disclaimer to denote paid content, dipped by something like 17% in Q4. There are a lot of reasons, including the simple fact that many of the top influencers aren’t able to provide their normal quality of content in lockdown. In addition, new technologies and services are improving how more traditional ads are served on platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, which makes it easier to push more budget behind those efforts.
One of those newer technologies is the ability to shop within Facebook Live events. Facebook Live sessions saw the best engagement rate of any product on any platform in Q4, and creating live content on Facebook and Instagram has become one of the top priorities for many brands as 2021 gets rolling. Video in general continues to grow, even on photo-centric Instagram; in Q4, 18% of all Instagram content was video, a new high.
Digital marketing in general and social media in particular are always changing. Still, some of these trends, including big ad spend, should continue well into 2021. There’s a growing awareness that everyone with a smartphone has a store in their pocket at all times, with infinite capacity to shop and search. The line between marketing, entertainment, and making an ‘ad’ in the traditional sense is becoming evermore blurred, and how we access that content is more seamless and integrated into our daily lives.
Want to see what digital marketing options might be best for your brand? Let’s talk.