The final quarter of 2013 was the largest spending period in Facebook advertising history, according to the latest data from Nanigans’ clients.  Fueled by a record December for online shopping as well as an influx of new mobile device owners, advertisers found their Facebook marketing delivered more revenue-per-click quarter over quarter (QOQ) and year-over-year (YOY) on desktop and mobile despite higher costs.

Some of our key findings for Q4 2013 include:

  • A double digit YOY increase in Facebook advertising spend
  • An increase in revenue per click by 27% YOY while cost-per-clicks decreased by 7%
  • 45% of Nanigans Q4 2013 ad spend was from mobile, up from 12% in Q4 2012
  • Canada (136%) and U.S. (125%) had the largest YOY growth in Facebook advertising spend by geographic region
  • Females earned the most revenue per click ($.50 higher than males) and attracted the most ad dollars (65%)
  • Advertisers allocated 84% of their Facebook ad spend to users ages 25+

Global Facebook advertising benchmarks for Q4 2013

Facebook advertising spend increased 28% (QOQ) and 96% (YOY)

Our data revealed that Facebook marketers spent more on Facebook advertising in Q4 than any other quarter on record, with a 28% quarter-over-quarter (QOQ) and 96% (YOY) increase in spend.  While we expect a QOQ spike from Q3 and Q4 from seasonality, it’s exciting to see the double digit YOY increase in advertising spend.  This shows that advertisers are increasingly shifting their advertising spend to Facebook and there’s still a sizeable opportunity for marketers to boost returns from one of the fastest growing digital advertising mediums.

Figure 1: Facebook Ad Spend, Q4-2012-Q4 2013 Facebook ad spend Click-through-rates (CTR) increased by 23% (QOQ) and 258% (YOY) 

The increase in YOY CTRs shows that marketers are generating strong returns, indicating that marketers are seeing high engagement on Facebook.  Marketers have shifted their focus to the News Feed and are constantly iterating their ad creative to feature compelling imagery and messaging to attract their ideal audiences. Higher CTR’s may also reflect Facebook’s recent steps to streamline its ad formats and improve relevancy for consumers.

Figure 2: Facebook Ad CTR Q4-2013-Q4 2013  Facebook Ad CTR Cost-per-impression (CPM) rates were up 42% (QOQ) and 234%(YOY)

The 3.3X increase in CPMs YOY shows the spike in demand which is most likely due to heightened demand for inventory as brands and agencies rush to meet their seasonal objectives. An interesting trend we noted is a spike in costs the last month of every quarter (on average an increase of 30% from the first to last month of the quarter) as advertisers rush to meet their quarterly volume goals.

Figure 3: Facebook Ad CPM Q4 2013-Q4 2013 Facebook Ad CPM Cost-per-click (CPC) rates were up 15% (QOQ) and down 7% (YOY)

Marketers continue to focus on CPC as a Key Performance Indicator (KPI).  The increase in demand QOQ is most likely due to seasonality but the 7% YOY decline indicates that Facebook marketers have become more sophisticated with Facebook’s targeting options and are increasingly only paying what each ad is worth based on their business objectives.

Figure 4: Facebook Ad CPC Q4 2012-Q4 2013  Facebook ad CPC Revenue-per-click (RPC) was up 62% (QOQ) and 27% (YOY)

Despite higher average CPCs and CPMs, the RPC for Facebook advertisers has remained positive - meaning that advertisers can expect to realize grater value in sales revenue than the cost of their Facebook advertising investment. Advertisers are increasingly shifting their budgets to Facebook as it is the place for proven reach and ROI.

Figure 5: Facebook Ad RPC Q4 2012-Q4 2013 Facebook Ad RPC

Facebook advertising trends, mobile vs. desktop

Advertising spend on Facebook mobile surged 38% (QOQ) and accounted for 45% of Nanigans Q4 2013 ad spend.

In 2013, the surge in mobile adoption helped to grow Facebook’s mobile user base, creating new opportunities for marketers.  With 945 million daily active mobile users, advertisers are embracing it as a critical engagement point with their base.  Mobile ad spending is hitting new heights—45% of Nanigans Q4 ad spend was from mobile in Q4 2013, this is up from 12% in Q4 2012. Facebook reported in Q4 2013 that 53% of its advertising revenue came from mobile.

Figure 6: Facebook Advertising Budget Allocated to Mobile vs. Desktop Facebook mobile vs. desktop ad spend Facebook mobile CPM rates increased 27% QOQ and 21% YOY indicating a healthy demand for mobile ads.  Desktop News Feed ad CPM rates increased 8% QOQ and 6X YOY as advertisers shifted spend to News Feed from RHS starting in 2Q of 2013.

Figure 7: Facebook Mobile vs. Desktop News Feed CPM, Q4 2012-Q4 2013 Facebook mobile ad cpm Facebook mobile ad CPC rates surged 27% QOQ and 46% YOY. Desktop News Feed ad CPC rates increased 20% QOQ and 111% YOY.

Figure 8: Facebook Mobile vs. Desktop News Feed CPC, Q4 2012-Q4 2013

 Facebook mobile cpc The average Facebook Mobile ad RPC increased by 57% QOQ and 15X YOY. Facebook desktop News Feed ad RPC increased by 25% QOQ and 217% (YOY). This shows that Facebook is the place for advertisers to drive return-on-investment on mobile and desktop.

Figure 9: Facebook Mobile vs. Desktop News Feed, RPC Q4 2012-Q4 2013 Facebook mobile revenue per click

Facebook advertising trends, by geographic region

Canada had the biggest YOY growth in Facebook ad spend at 136% followed closely by the U.S. at 125%. Australian ad spend increased by 51% followed closely by Great Britain which grew by 50%. Here’s an additional breakdown of CTR, CPM, CPC by geographic region.

Facebook advertising CTR, by Region

  • AU - CTRs up 10% (QOQ) and 545% (YOY)
  • CA- CTRs up 56%(QOQ) and 704% (YOY)
  • GB - CTRs up 5% (QOQ) and 149% (YOY)
  • Top EU- CTRs up 48% (QOQ) and 266% (YOY)
  • US - CTRs up 11% (QOQ) and 221% (YOY)

Figure 10:  Facebook Ad CTR Q4 YOY, by Region Facebook ad ctr by geography 

Facebook advertising CPM rates, by Region

  • AU- CPMs up 47% (QOQ) and 262% (YOY)
  • CA- CPMs up 61% (QOQ) and 310% (YOY)
  • GB - CPMs up 27% (QOQ) and 197% (YOY)
  • Top EU - CPMs up 84% (QOQ) and 200% (YOY)
  • US - CPMs up 24% (QOQ) and 220% (YOY)

Figure 11: Facebook Ad CPM Rates Q4 YOY, by Region  Facebook ad cpm by geography

Facebook ad CPC rates, by region

  • AU- CPCs up 34% (QOQ) and down 44% (YOY)
  • CA- CPCs up 4% (QOQ) and down 49% (YOY)
  • GB - CPCs up 21% (QOQ) and 19% (YOY)
  • Top EU- CPCs up 25% (QOQ) and down 18% (YOY)
  • US - CPCs up 12% (QOQ) and 0% (YOY)

Figure 12: Facebook Ad CPC rates YOY, by Region  Facebook ad cpc by geography

Facebook advertising trends, by demographics

When examining KPI’s at the audience level, we found that on average females cost $.13 more than males but delivered a $.50 higher RPC.

Figure 13: Facebook Ad RPC and CPC, Q1 2013-Q4 2013, by Gender  Facebook revenue by gender Advertisers recognized the value of the Facebook female audience and on average, allocated 65% of their budget to females and 35% to males.

Figure 14: Facebook Ad Budget Allocation Q1 2013-Q4 2013, by Gender Facebook ad spend by gender  When examining KPIs by age group, our revenue-per-click data suggests that the teen demographic, 18-24, is the worst monetizing demographic and 45-54, is the best performing age group.

Figure 15: Facebook Ad RPC and CPC, Q1 2013-Q4 2013, by Age   Facebook_revenue-per-click We found a similar trend when we mapped marketer's Facebook ad budget allocation by Age Range.  We extrapolated ad spend for traditional age ranges (18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54 and 55-64) and found that 84% of ad spend is allocated to ages 25+.

Figure 16: Facebook Ad Budget Allocation Q1 2013-Q4 2013, by Age Facebook_spend_age

To analyze quarterly data in its historical context, an aggregate data set was built from the advertisers and partners who have been active on the Nanigans Ad Engine platform during the previous 12 months.  Nanigans clients include 200 of the worlds’ leading performance marketing in retail, travel, gaming and more.