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45% of retailers plan to spend more on social media advertising in 2021 vs 2020

30 second summary:

  • Social media advertising automation company Smartly.io surveyed 300 executives from global retail organizations to see how their social media advertising process has changed in 2020 from 2019
  • The survey found that 74% of respondents dedicated at least a third of their marketing budget to social media ads in 2020, with most planning to increase social ad spend in 2021
  • Respondents planned to increase their social advertising spend in 2021. The lion’s share of the budget went to Facebook, followed by Twitter and Instagram
  • Smartly.io released the survey results in a report that contains key suggestions for planning a retail social media marketing strategy in 2021
  • You can download the full report on Social Advertising Trends 2021 from ClickZ.

A survey of 300 executives from retail organizations around the world, conducted by Smartly.io and the eTail conference series, found that 74% of respondents had devoted at least a third of their marketing budget to social media advertising.

Respondents said they plan to increase their social advertising spend in 2021, with the lion’s share of their social advertising budget going to Facebook, followed by Twitter and then Instagram.

The survey included leading retailers from the US, UK, India, Australia, Indonesia and Canada, with 34% of respondents from other countries.

Below we present some of the results from Smartly.io. To download the full report, Global Social Advertising Trends in 2021: How Brands Adapt to Disruption and Change Consumer Habits, please download it from Here.

Content created in collaboration with Smartly.io.

Facebook is the top priority

Research by Smartly.io found that global advertising budgets for social media increased in 2020 compared to 2021. Most companies spent between 31% and 50% of their total advertising budget on social media, compared to 26% to 50% last year.

Facebook was the most popular platform for retailers to advertise on. 93% of respondents said they are currently buying ads on Facebook. Other top platforms are Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and TikTok.

The following table shows the most important advertising platforms among the respondents:

Social media advertising

Instagram had the highest return on advertising spend (ROAS) at 40% of respondents, up from 21% in 2019. Spending varies by country, with the US and Europe spending more on Instagram ads than other countries.

Smartly.io writes: “Although around 25% of Asian companies prioritize Instagram, most others prioritize Facebook and LinkedIn for their ad budget.”

Although Instagram had a higher ROAS compared to other platforms, 76% of brands said they plan to increase their Facebook ad spend in 2021.

This seems to be at the expense of other platforms. About 40% of respondents said they plan to increase their Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn spend this year. Additionally, around 18 to 24% of brands plan to cut spending on the last three platforms, as shown in the table below.

Manual ad management is a challenge

Over 70% of respondents have difficulty managing their social media ads manually. Ad management challenges include:

  • Difficulty creating original, well-differentiated content.
  • Social media ads are checked by consumers.
  • Creating organic, engaging ads is time consuming.

While most respondents felt that manual administration is required to create engaging, unique, and personalized social media ads, most were open to automation.

90% of respondents said they did not use automation technology to make it easier to develop and manage social media ads in 2020. 81% said they are interested in automating at least part of the process, up from 65% in 2019.

Smartly.io writes: “By automating the creation and provision of advertising content, manual processes in the advertising process can be reduced and teams can be saved considerably in time.”

The benefits of automating social media advertising

Most respondents said they used first or third party data to optimize their ads. However, there was more work to be done to create more personalized ad messages on a larger scale. Smartly.io finds that automation destroys creative silos and enables better communication within a company.

While 71% of respondents felt that their marketing and creative teams were working effectively together at all stages of the marketing process, the report found that a key trend for 2021 is for social media advertising and creative teams to work more closely together.

“By bringing these two teams together, retailers have the potential to generate social media advertising that speaks to their customer segments on a personal level, improves ROAS, and offers more opportunities to optimize social media as a channel,” writes Smartly.io.

Other important trends are:

  • 45% of retailers plan to spend more on social media advertising in 2021 versus 2020.
  • 40% of respondents plan to expand their marketing team to better manage social media advertising.
  • 39% of respondents plan to manage social media internally.
  • 30% will invest in more robust social media advertising tools.

2021 social media advertising planning

Smartly.io’s report has a comprehensive list of all the trends that emerged from their survey, with strategies retailers can incorporate into their social media marketing plan for 2021.

Examples include: diversifying social media advertising channels, increasing Facebook spend to stay competitive, and automating some processes for collaborating, developing and managing ads.

Download the full report on Smartly.io’s Social Advertising Trends 2021 here.

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