Facebook hasn’t had the best year so far, have they?

The Cambridge Analytics data scandal, rumors of youth departing Facebook for Instagram & Snapchat, the fact that Instagram seems new & exciting…

You can’t blame people for wondering if Facebook is over and Instagram might be the new thing, can you?

Is Facebook marketing over or is Instagram marketing better? If so, how should we market on Instagram?

What’s All The Hype About Instagram?

People love the idea of Instagram marketing because:

  • You can advertise on Instagram though the Facebook ad platform, one of the two best ad platforms in the world.
  • There are stats and rumors about young people leaving Facebook for Instagram and Snapchat… but Instagram is easier to market with than Snapchat, so if you’re chasing the youth market, Instagram seems to make sense. However, please keep in mind that for every age group, Facebook still has more users than Instagram.
  • Instagram’s audience is younger than Facebook on average.
  • Instagram posts and ads are much more positive, inspirational and lifestyle-oriented than Facebook’s, which can be political, negative, cranky and salesy at their worst.

Are Instagram Ads More Effective or More Affordable?

This kind of benchmark data hasn’t been released by some of the bigger clearinghouses like Wordstream yet, but that I can give you a sampling of what we’ve see from our campaigns and our clients. This data comes from multiple industries and represents nearly 20 million very recent ad impressions as of June 2018:

Metric definitions:

  • CPM = Cost per impression
  • CPC = Cost per click
  • CTR = Clickthrough Rate
  • CPE = Cost per engagement
  • CP10SVV = Cost per 10-second video view

The normal Facebook video view is only 3 seconds. We believe that these are often merely glances, not true “views,” so we prefer to measure 10-second views.

5 Insights from the Facebook and Instagram Ad Data

Let’s compare some of the data from the chart and see what we can learn.

1. Brand Visibility Costs Less With Facebook Ads Than Instagram Ads 

You’ll get more marketing awareness for your dollar on Facebook than Instagram. Facebook usually gets you more affordable visibility (CPM’s) than Instagram ads.

2. Website Traffic Is More Affordable With Facebook Ads Than Instagram Ads 

Facebook clearly has the better cost per clicks (CPC’s) overall. However, Instagram Stories and Facebook Messenger click costs can rival some of the better Facebook ad CPC’s.

3. People Click At A Higher Rate on Facebook Mobile Ads Than On Instagram Ads (Which Are Always Mobile)

When we look at clickthrough rates, people click about 3x as much in the Facebook mobile news feed (1.58% CTR) as they do in Instagram (0.51% CTR).

People are more interested in clicking (tapping) on Facebook ads from their smartphones than they are in clicking on Instagram ads.

People click 67% less often on Instagram ads than they do on Facebook ads.

This behavior may change over time if Instagram users come to accept ads more, or as advertisers get better at making their Instagram ads fit Instagram’s unique ethos and attitude.

We don’t believe that the lower ad CTR on Instagram is related to the lower average age of Instagram users, because when you look at Facebook Audience Insights data for younger users, even though you do see a lower ad-clicking activity from 18-34 year olds (about 7% less) and even lower from 18-25 year olds (about 20% less), those dips in ad-clicking activity are not nearly as extreme as the 67% difference we’re seeing in this data.

4. People Engage More With Facebook Ads Than With Instagram Ads

Facebook ads are still the king of affordable engagement (CPE).

The Facebook news feed’s ad engagements are 40-70% more affordable than Instagram.

This may surprise you, since there are other public stats showing that Instagram is generally more engaging than Facebook. This is true for individual user accounts, but what we’re looking at here is how engaging ads are on Instagram (or how engaged users are with ads), and not how engaging the average user’s posts are.

5. Video Views Are More Affordable With Facebook Ads Than Instagram Ads

Facebook is also winning at cost per video view.

Again, it could be that Instagram users are not appreciating ads overall, or that the people creating the videos haven’t figured out how to tailor them to the Instagram environment or user.

What About Leads and Sales Performance?

I left conversion data out of the above chart, because it’s harder to compare apples-to-apples on leads and sales across multiple clients in multiple industries. The benchmarks can be so different, not just in B2B vs B2C but in each industry.

However, our anecdotal experience from multiple clients gives us strong indications that:

  • Facebook ads convert at higher rates for leads and sales than Instagram ads.
  • Facebook ads can drive a higher volume of leads and sales than Instagram ads (more impressions and clicks are available on Facebook).
  • Because the CPM’s and CPC’s in Facebook are lower and the conversion rates are higher, your costs-per-lead and costs-per-sale will typically be lower from Facebook ads than from Instagram ads.

We almost always have some ads running on Instagram for clients, unless it’s hurting overall performance. However, the contribution of Instagram ads to leads and sales overall has not been big. The overwhelming majority of results come from Facebook placements, not Instagram ones.

Takeaways

Does the fact that Facebook ads are more effective than Instagram ads mean you shouldn’t market on Instagram?

Not at all!

Instagram is a unique and promising social network for marketers, and likely will grow in value to businesses over time.

And for those who are marketing organically without ads, Instagram may be a very effective option.

However, for advertisers, Facebook is still far and above the more effective network and, for most businesses, should represent a much larger ad spend investment than Facebook.

There are always exceptions- there are certain types of businesses that may find Instagram more effective, and if you “crack the code,” so to speak with a clever ad concept, you may find yourself getting amazing results.

You should absolutely experiment with Instagram ads if you feel it makes sense for you.

And as you read above, Instagram story ads may be a real CPC opportunity for website clicks.

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