US advertisers spend $7.2 billion on paid social media in second quarter

Paid social advertising accounted for over one-fifth of all advertising spend for the quarter.
30 September 2020
Tracking social media advertising on mobile
elaine chen

VP, Marketing Communications, Media Division, US

Get in touch

U.S. advertisers spent $7.2 billion on paid social media during the second quarter of 2020, accounting for 22% of total advertising in the quarter, according to a new analysis by Kantar and Pathmatics.

Despite the market pressures caused by COVID-19, social media held its own in a rapidly evolving media landscape and expanded throughout the quarter. Social media is a critical channel for both advertisers and consumers: According to Kantar’s DIMENSION 2020 study, 85% of US consumers are using social media, and 63% do so at least once per day. 

Social media rises, despite boycotts

During the second quarter, brands spent $7.2 billion on paid social advertising, or over one-fifth of all advertising spend for the quarter – far outpacing spend on traditional channels such as print or radio. With the inclusion of paid social, digital advertising exceeded 47% of measured ad investment for the quarter, exceeding spend on TV. While Facebook contended with controversies that led to boycotts by some advertisers in July, the platform achieved $4.1 billion in revenue or 12.5% of overall industry spending during the quarter, as compared to Instagram at $2.9 billion or 8.8%.

COVID-19’s impact on advertising

Kantar and Pathmatics’ analysis finds that the pandemic caused significant fluctuation in advertising spend, with deep cuts in the early stages followed by a partial recovery for some media. April marked the first full month of the crisis and led to particularly deep cuts of over 30% for print, radio and outdoor, while TV and digital fell by close to 20%. However, spend then rebounded for most media in May, with paid social increasing by close to 3% as TV grew by 7.3%. 

Advertising spend declined again in June, dropping a modest 1.3%. Television was largely flat at -0.7%, while paid social declined by 2.1%. Meanwhile, other media such as outdoor experienced a delayed recovery, growing by 9.8% in June after a 10% decline in May as lockdowns were eased across the country. 

Trends like these reflect a quickly changing media landscape, underscoring the importance of the robust, single source perspective Kantar provides into these emerging shifts and maneuvers.

Delivering expanded insights for clients

Holistic multimedia insights like these will be available to Kantar clients exclusively through Kantar’s Advertising Insights platform, thanks to a newly extended partnership between Kantar and Pathmatics announced today. The partnership builds on Kantar’s broad range of rich digital and traditional ad intelligence insights, adding Pathmatics’ Twitter and Instagram metrics to existing Facebook data available in Kantar platforms. Kantar and Pathmatics are also expanding globally by launching a Facebook focused solution in Brazil in the fourth quarter of 2020. With this enhanced solution, brands and marketers can make better-informed decisions based on competitive advertising trends that include important insights about paid social, including spend, ad type, size and creative.

“With advertisers and brands leveraging such a broad range of media channels, cross-platform measurement is more essential than ever,” says Pete Rumpel, CEO of Kantar’s Media division. “By expanding our direct partnership with Pathmatics to include Twitter and Instagram insights, our clients will gain an essential advantage as they become the first in the industry to access critical social advertising data in addition to traditional and digital media, all through a single insights platform.”  

"Social media use is exploding while Americans spend more time at home, and despite a major Facebook advertising boycott in July, social platforms on the whole remain valuable, wide-reaching tools for advertisers” said Gabe Gottlieb, Founder and CEO, Pathmatics. "Our continued collaboration with Kantar brings greater transparency and visibility into a marketing teams' own paid social media strategy — and their competitors — enabling them to bolster existing media plans and identify new, better ways to engage social media users."

Want more like this?

Read: Dimension 2020

Get in touch
Related solutions
Monitor paid search activities, and get detailed insights into brand campaigns on search engines and ecommerce sites.
Get increased precision and enhance your own data with a scaled approach to audience measurement.
Get increased precision and enhance your own data with a scaled approach to audience measurement.