Why Social Media Thrived In 2020

It’s no secret that digital media has surged during the COVID-19 pandemic, while many linear outlets have faltered.

And social media in particular has thrived under lockdowns and social distancing, according to Magna’s new media forecast released last week.

As a result, social media advertising formats generated 17% more ad sales in 2020 to reach $80 billion globally (26% of total digital ad sales), according to the report.

Growth is actually down from the previous couple of years (+34% in 2018, +25% in 2019) “but it is shockingly strong given the extent of the COVID crisis and accompanying economic disruption," according to Magna.

The report explains the 2020 growth in part this way: “As social media penetration, usage and engagement all accelerated further during COVID quarantines, many consumer brands and local businesses seized the opportunity of cheaper rates and rising ROI and decided to start, maintain or develop their social media presence in 2020.”

Political advertising also helped, with more than $700 million spent by political strategists in paid social media campaigns in 2020, three times more than in 2016. And “adding ‘issues’ campaigns, the social media spend … could be double that figure.”

More growth is on the way, with the IPG intelligence arm forecasting an additional 13% gain for social in 2021.

“Social media remains the most mobile-centric digital format,” the report adds, with 93% of revenues in 2020 expected to come from smartphone impressions and clicks.

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