Ad budgets are up, but actions are down: UK’s 21% rise beats global brand norms

Latest social media adspend insights emphasise the increasingly steep struggle brands now face when trying to reach their target audiences on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

UK social media ad spend across Facebook and Instagram is up 21% year-to-year, with Q1 2022 average monthly spend at £5,235 compared to £2,598 ($3,250) globally.

The findings, from customer experience (CX) platform Emplifi, looked at 591 ad accounts in the UK, social media ad spend decreased in the first quarter after an impressive holiday showing but remains significantly higher than the global average.

Brands in the UK spent 101% more on social media ads in Q1 2022 than the global average of £2,598 ($3,250). At the same time, however, social engagement patterns are declining, particularly on Facebook.

According to Emplifi’s most recent findings, average monthly ad spend in the UK during Q1 2022 was £5,235 ($6,548).

This is a 16% decrease from the Q4 2021 end-of-year holiday season-high but is still a 21% increase compared to Q1 2021 (average monthly ad spend of just over £4,322).

Ad budgets are up, but actions are down

Median monthly ad spend in the UK is significantly higher than other markets globally, despite a high cost-per-click (CPC). After trending upward through 2021, the median monthly CPC dropped 14% from Q4 2021 to Q1 2022 to about £0.35 ($0.44). Separately, click-through rates declined year-on-year by 15% compared to Q1 2021.

Facebook engagement dropped significantly YoY, with Instagram following in its footsteps – The median number of interactions with Facebook posts (likes, comments, shares) from UK brands decreased by 25% year-on-year. In Q1 2021, the platform was seeing a median of 5.15 interactions per 1,000 impressions; a year later that number dropped to 3.89.

Meanwhile, the median number of interactions with Instagram posts decreased by 6% year-on-year, with UK brands receiving a median of 34.04 interactions per 1,000 impressions.

Instagram lags in customer response rates

The ability for brands to acknowledge and respond to customer questions on social media held relatively steady from the previous quarter across all the platforms. Average response rates to direct messages were higher on Facebook (77%) and Twitter (73%) in comparison to Instagram (40%).

Direct Message query resolve times most improved on Twitter

Brands were able to resolve customer direct messages on Twitter in 18.07 hours, which was 2.7 hours faster than the median conversation duration of 20.78 hours in Q4 2021. However, the platform was still much slower than Facebook (17.85 hours in Q1 2022 compared to 19.87 hours in Q4 2021) and Instagram (14.46 hours in Q1 2022 compared to 13.83 hours in Q4 2021).

“UK marketers view paid social media as an integral part of the marketing mix,” said Emplifi CMO, Zarnaz Arlia. “Brands in the UK are willing to pay a premium to reach their audiences and spend more on social media ads than in any other region. It’s positive that response rates across the platforms have held relatively steady from the last quarter, and that brands are improving query resolution times on Twitter and Facebook. It shows understanding and appreciation that customers want prompt answers to questions and concerns, and that by providing strong social customer care they can build and maintain customer loyalty”.


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