ROI Data Shows Amazon Ascendant, Facebook Under Continuing Scrutiny

Based on a quarterly analysis of marketers' self-reported assessment of their spending on each of the major digital media platforms, Amazon has demonstrated the best growth -- and stability -- over the past six quarters, according a Research Intelligencer analysis of unique data from Wall Street equities researcher Pivotal Research Group.

The data depicted here represents the net percentage-point difference of those expressing their ROI has either gotten "better" or "worse" relative to the preceding quarter.

The method is similar to the Advertiser Optimism Index developed by Advertiser Perceptions, and reported by MediaPost in the past. It's a simple way of looking at the net improvement or decrease in advertiser confidence over time.

While Amazon has demonstrated some quarter-to-quarter volatility, it remains relatively stable and indexes with a much more positive ROI vs. the other major digital media platforms.

After Amazon, Google remains most stable and most positive, followed by Facebook, with the exception of one outlier: the first quarter of 2019 when it registered a net negative 18 points.

"We are encouraged that the 'worse' bucket has shrunk vs. the first quarter of 2019, but we don’t feel like we have a great explanation why ROI down-ticked as much as it did in the first- and second- quarters," writes Pivotal analyst Michael Levine in the report sent to investors this morning. "But we are watching closely for any negative changes. 

"Based on our work," he continues, "we think Facebook stories is likely weaker ROI than many other Facebook ad products, so could be contributing to the drag. Given commentary from the company that second half 2019 ROIs could decline from less data targeting capabilities, we are watching this dynamic closely."

Pivotal's research interestingly shows that the questions surrounding Facebook's ROI has not corresponded to a net decrease in advertisers' ad budgeting plans for the social network.

Asked what the pace of year-over-year growth in their Facebook budgets are for the second quarter vs. the first quarter, 31% said it is accelerating vs. only 10% saying it has decelerated.


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