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Social Media Advertising in Q2 2020 and Beyond

How the Coronavirus Will Affect Ad Prices, Spending Plans and More

About This Report
Social media advertising will remain vulnerable in Q2 and possibly longer. CPMs will stay low, spending cuts will persist, and ad creative will be tricky to get right.
Table of Contents

Social media advertising has a long way to go to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic. Low ad prices will persist in Q2 and beyond, and a slow economic recovery will test marketers’ ability to nimbly manage ad budgets, messaging and targeting.

How was social media advertising affected in the last half of March?

Many marketers pulled back spending, even though users were engaging with social media at higher rates. On Facebook, CPM ad pricing fell as much as 50% in March, according to agency and ad tech executives. Snapchat reported stronger-than-expected revenues in Q1 but said year-over-year growth in March was less than half of the rate in January and February.

Why did some marketers continue to advertise as the crisis deepened?

Lower ad prices attracted some companies. And businesses in industries such as technology, telecom and consumer packaged goods (CPG) continued to spend to reach consumers whose daily activities shifted once they started spending more time at home.

What will happen to social CPMs in Q2 and beyond?

CPMs will remain depressed through Q2 and possibly later, subject to the pace of the US economic recovery. There will be significant volatility depending on industry vertical, targeting criteria and other factors.

What are marketers’ social ad spending plans for Q2 and beyond?

Declines will continue in April; May and June may be somewhat better, but nowhere near normal levels. Executives we interviewed were optimistic that the remainder of the year would improve, but as with ad pricing, there is a lot of uncertainty at this point.

How are marketers changing social ad creative and messaging?

Advertisers are shifting toward brand messaging and away from performance-oriented advertising, at least until the US economy starts to reopen. Through social listening, marketers are gaining empathy to consumers’ state of mind.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report covers how social media advertising changed in March 2020 and what that means for Q2 and beyond.

KEY STAT: Among US ad buyers who are making short-term changes to ad spending, social ad budgets were expected to decline an average of 28% between March and June 2020.

Here’s what’s in the full report


Exportable files for easy reading, analysis and sharing.


Reliable data in simple displays for presentations and quick decision making.

13expert perspectives

Insights from industry and company leaders.

Table of Contents

  1. Three Weeks that Rocked Social Media
  2. Social Ad Pricing
  3. Advertiser Spending Plans
  1. Ad Creative and Messaging
  2. Key Takeaways
  3. eMarketer Interviews
  1. Read Next
  2. Sources
  3. Media Gallery

Charts in This Report

Interviewed for This Report

Greg Allum
LQ Digital
Vice President, Paid Social and Display Advertising
Interviewed March 31, 2020
Emily Anthony
Senior Director, Media Services
Interviewed April 2, 2020
Liz Cole
Vice President and Group Director, Social Strategy
Interviewed April 2, 2020
John Dobrowolski
General Manager, Social and Apps
Interviewed April 2, 2020
Mike Dossett
Vice President and Director, Digital Strategy
Interviewed April 9, 2020
Gogi Gupta
Gupta Media
Interviewed April 8, 2020
Joe Kudla
Interviewed March 31, 2020
Noah Mallin
IMGN Media
Chief Brand Strategist
Interviewed April 1, 2020
Justin Marshall
Wunderman Thompson Seattle
Interviewed April 2, 2020
Nichola Perrigo
Vice President and Director, Digital Media
Interviewed April 9, 2020
Jessica Richards
Havas Media Group
Global Head of Social
Interviewed April 2, 2020
Kelly Schmidt
Paid Social Director
Interviewed April 2, 2020
Riikka Söderlund
Director, Brand Marketing
Interviewed April 15, 2020


Debra Aho Williamson


Blake Droesch
Junior Analyst
Jasmine Enberg
Senior Analyst
Rimma Kats
Executive Editor
Natalie McGranahan
Senior Researcher and Taxonomy Manager
Nicole Perrin
Principal Analyst
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