Are Facebook Advertisers Ignoring International Markets?

February 21, 2014

This article is included in these additional categories:

Asia-Pacific | Digital | Europe & Middle East | Global & Regional | Social Media | Spending & Spenders

Marin-Facebook-Ad-Spend-v-User-Share-Select-Regions-Feb2014A new report [download page] released by Marin Software makes the case that there are substantial unexplored opportunities for Facebook advertisers to target audiences outside of North America. According to Marin’s analysis of more than 200 online marketing clients, about half of their Facebook ad budgets are directed at audiences in North America, despite the region housing only 15% of global Facebook users. By that measure, advertisers are similarly over-invested in Western Europe, according to the study.

By contrast, other regions, such as Asia-Pacific, are underinvested. Asia-Pacific is home to 28% of Facebook’s audience but captures just 11% of advertisers’ budgets. The study also points to eMarketer projections indicating that the most rapid growth in Facebook users growth will come in regions such as Asia-Pacific and Latin America, suggesting that if current trends hold, advertisers will be even more under-invested in those areas. Moreover, the analysts note that user engagement is high in some of these under-explored areas: for example, Facebook ad CTR is highest for Marin’s clients in Latin America, 33% higher than in North America and 54% higher than in Western Europe.

The study provides plenty of food for thought, but perhaps not too much more, for now. Clearly, there are many more variables to consider, such as the ROI of targeting audiences outside of North America and Western Europe, and on a more basic level, even the mere presence of some brands in emerging markets. Marin believes that it’s less likely a case of brands lacking an international presence than it is of them underestimating the potential worth of marketing to users in those other regions. Perhaps that’s the case, but while a broader case of ad spend misalignment can be made, it’s unlikely that the skew is due only to a lack of examined opportunities.

Then again, according to the latest CMO survey from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, American CMOs expect 22.5% of their sales to be international in the next 12 months, with the majority of them believing that the highest-revenue growth international markets will be outside of Western Europe and North America. So there’s that.

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