It has been reported by AdAge that more than 950 brands participated in “Blackout Tuesday” on Instagram last week (subscription required). Brands and consumers alike paused their social media activity to make space for people of color to have their voices heard. A new analysis by Skai shows that this participation extended to paid social media spending as well.
How much did this affect advertising on social media? Spending from advertisers in North America started to show the impact of the large demonstrations over the 5/31-6/1 weekend on Monday, with spending down 16% compared to the previous week. It was Tuesday, however, that saw the largest decrease by far, dipping 55% compared to seven days earlier.
As for what’s happened since then, both impressions and clicks got back within 10% of their totals for the previous week by Thursday, while spending lagged behind at -26% due to lower CPMs during the three-day stretch.
With the usage of social media at relatively high levels since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, and given the level of control that advertisers have over their social media advertising programs, we can safely say that the majority of this advertising slowdown was intentional on the part of advertisers, and not, for example, the result of an abrupt curtailment of impression volume. Impressions were, in fact, lower, but Skai does not suspect this was due to less inventory.
CPG brands, in particular, dialed back social ad spending the most, reducing daily spend by nearly 90%, while Finance advertisers were affected the least, only seeing a decline of 8%. The broader category of Shopping and Retail had the second-largest drop, shedding two-thirds of their daily budget of the week prior.
This isn’t to say that financial advertisers are less concerned with their image as it relates to social media advertising–it’s more a reflection of how different industries use those ads. CPG and Retail advertisers are generally (although not exclusively) focused on more upper-funnel branding and perception campaigns in social media, while finance is more response-driven, and we can say with some confidence from our experience with paid search ads that direct response advertising is less affected by external events unless those events specifically affect demand for goods and services.
Overall, this emphasizes that brands are doing what they can to show something along the spectrum of solidarity and sensitivity–or at the very least not coming across as insensitive–during a time when the response of brands and advertisers is under a microscope. The impact on creative and messaging may be a longer discussion, but in terms of presence, many brands put their money where their mouths were, which is to say, they kept quiet.