Data Reveals Effects of Facebook Ad Boycott

Data Reveals Effects of Facebook Ad Boycott

Organizers have vowed to continue working, but the initial push of the Stop Hate for Profit campaign ended on July 31. Socialbakers data reveals the impact it had on paid advertising.

The initiative, which was originally started in June by activist organizations including the NAACP and Anti-Defamation League, called on brands in the United States to pause running ads on Facebook during the month of July. The group believes that Facebook has contributed “deep harms to marginalized communities and the health of our democracy”, and the ad pause was meant to both draw attention to the cause as well as inflict a financial impact on Facebook.

In that way, it’s related to #BlackoutTuesday, which was an effort coordinated on June 2 to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement by halting all social media and business activity on June 2.

Socialbakers data shows how both of these events affected paid advertising metrics like ad spend and cost per click, as well as what that could mean for Facebook in the future.

US Ad Spend Decreases 31% First Week of Facebook Ad Boycott

Looking at ad spend by region throughout 2020, you can see the impact of an historic year.

Just as ad spend was rising out of the holiday season, the coronavirus pandemic took hold and brought everything down. And then as spend was normalizing after the pandemic’s initial impact, there was a drop on June 2.

In Northern America, spend decreased by 55.8% for Blackout Tuesday. But as that was just a one-day hiatus, it quickly went back up and reached a 2020 high before dropping again amid the Stop Hate for Profit campaign.

Social Ad Boycott Spend by Region

Spend in Northern America decreased by 31.6% in the first week of July. After that it increased a little and then fell back down, ending July at about the same total it reached at the end of the first week of the month ($1,031.87).

Worldwide, ad spend decreased by 26.3% the first week of July before bouncing back. Overall, ad spend was 11.8% lower at the end of July than at the beginning ($591.48 vs. $670.33).

The changes in cost per click was similar but less dramatic. In Northern America, CPC decreased by 31% over the first two weeks of July before climbing back up. And worldwide, CPC was 3.7% lower at the end of July than at the beginning.

Social Ad Boycott CPC by Region

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Ecommerce Increases Spend in July

Looking at trends by industry, there was a notable exception that didn’t follow the overall pattern.

Ecommerce decreased its ad spend by 13% in the first week of July. However, from there it increased 19.3% and reached a 2020 high by the end of July ($1,497.72).

Social Ad Boycott Spend by Industry

Ecommerce was the only industry Socialbakers examined that actually increased its ad spend over the course of July. Others decreased from 10.1% (FMCG food) to 30.9% (alcohol), with the overall average being a decrease of 11.8%.

Social Ad Boycott CPC by Industry

The CPC for ecommerce also increased during July, rising 7%, while the CPC for auto ended the month basically the same as it started. The overall average industry CPC decreased by 3.7% during July.

The Takeaway

At this point, both sides of the Stop Hate for Profit campaign probably feel OK about where things stand.

For the activists, more than 1,000 companies and hundreds of nonprofits joined together and made a noticeable impact. Some, like Unilever, had already pledged to pause ad spending beyond just July, and the organization has 10 recommended next steps under the headings of Accountability, Decency, and Support for Facebook to undertake.

“We see this movement growing in Europe and in other areas,” the group said in a statement. “And we have explicit commitments from many advertisers to participate in future pauses and new actions if Facebook continues to ignore their demands for change.”

Meanwhile, in June Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly told staff that most advertisers would return to the platform, and that’s likely the case. In its quarterly earnings call, Facebook admitted that the ad boycott had some effect, but its ad revenue projections showed little financial impact.

Reputation-wise the ad boycott may have hurt Facebook, and it may continue to hurt the platform depending on how it adapts and changes, but overall social media marketers are still relying on the platform. And that won’t change anytime soon.

Content Marketing Specialist

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