Almost Half of Retailers Claim They’ll Hike Their Social Ad Spend in 2021

December 18, 2020

Smartly Retail Marketer Social Ad Plans for 2021 Dec2020Some 93% of retailers are currently buying social media ads on Facebook, with three-quarters planning to increase this investment in 2021, according to’s latest report [download page], this time covering social media ad plans in 2021. The study also takes a look at some strengths and weaknesses among retailers’ social media ad delivery.

When presented with a list of statements relating to their plans for 2021, more than half (56%) of the 300 leaders from global retail organizations shared that their social media advertising and creative teams will work together more closely in 2021. Almost half (45%) are planning to spend more on social media advertising in general, with 4 in 10 planning to expand their marketing team to better manage social media advertising. The majority of these retail leaders represent organizations with annual marketing spend of more than $20 million.

Certain retailers also have plans to manage social media advertising in-house in 2021 (39%), for their marketing team’s KPIs to change (33%), and to invest in more robust social media advertising tools (30%).

For the vast majority (93%) of respondents, Facebook is the platform of choice for their social ad investment, though Instagram is rising up the ranks: compared to the 56% of respondents in 2019 that said they were buying ads on the platform, 9 in 10 said the same this year.

It would appear that Facebook will continue to dominate retailers’ ad spend, with more than three-quarters (76%) of respondents sharing that they plan to increase their spending on the platform in 2021. Some 44% plan to increase their ad spend on Twitter and 38% on Instagram.

Retailers Struggle with Automation but Push for Personalization

Not only did 6 in 10 (61% of) respondents in 2019 report that they were struggling with manual processes in the creation and delivery of their social media advertising campaigns, but an increased 7 in 10 (72%) said the same this year.

It follows that this year just 6% of respondents shared that they automate social media advertising creation and delivery sufficiently and successfully, while about the same proportion (7%) automate at least part of this process, but with need of improvement. Granted, the vast majority (81%) are interested in automating at least part of this process, but are not currently, leaving only 6% who aren’t interested in automating any part of this process.

On the other hand, personalization is an area in which retailers are making strides. More than half (56%) claim to be optimizing ad delivery with first or third-party data, with roughly the same portion (55%) integrating personalization into their campaign concepts. Just 15% report that they are struggling with personalization, which is fortunate considering more and more consumers are looking for personalization from ads.

The full report can be found here.

About the Data: Results are based on a global survey of 300 leaders from retail organizations, 65% of which have annual marketing spend of more than $20 million.


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