How Did Facebook Boycotters Spend Their July Budgets?

Now that the #StopHateForProfit ad boycott has basically run its course, we’re learning more about the effort, its impact on Facebook, and how brands reallocated their social budgets in July.

Officially, more than 1,000 brands attached their name to the effort, which was intended to force Facebook to take a harder stance on hate speech and threats of violence, as well as politically and racially charged misinformation.

The list of participating brands included many blue-chip companies like Disney, Microsoft, Starbucks, Diageo, Coca-Cola, Verizon, Unilever, Ford Motor Co., The North Face, Ben & Jerry’s and Levi’s. 

The boycott did cost Facebook money. According to analytics platform Pathmatics, Facebook’s top 100 advertisers spent about $30 million less in July than they did in July of 2019, although this decline wasn’t entirely related to the boycott.  

Disney’s decision to join the boycott was especially costly for Facebook, Pathmatics found.

Facebook has conceded that the boycott did cut into its bottom line, although it hasn’t said by how much.

Meanwhile, digital marketing agency Tinuiti just released a report detailing how its ad partners engaged (or didn’t engage) with the boycott.

For one, the agency -- which claims to manage about $1.5 billion in ad spend across Facebook, Amazon, and Google -- says about a quarter of its ad partners honored the effort by pausing their Facebook spending throughout July.

Among those advertisers that joined the boycott in July, 40% chose to spend more on paid search, while 24% increased spending on paid social platforms other than Facebook, and 24% increased display advertising.

Some advertisers divided their budgets that would have gone to Facebook among multiple channels, while 8% of July boycotters said they still intend on spending at least some of that money on Facebook at a later date this year.

Of note, 36% of brands that participated in the boycott said they did not have any plans to reallocate the portion of their budget that would have gone to Facebook in July.

Meanwhile, more than three out of four advertisers that paused for the full month of July reactivated campaigns at the start of August, Tinuiti found.

Between the boycott and the ongoing pandemic, Tinuiti also detected a significant decline in CPMs on Facebook, in July. Year-over-year, CPMs dropped 30% for Instagram and 36% for Facebook proper (excluding Instagram, Messenger and the Audience Network), according to its own calculations.
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