Ad Agencies Don’t Expect to Cut Down on Facebook as Site Continues Losing Younger Users

EMarketer projected a drop of 2 million U.S. people under 25 in 2018

Facebook will lose two million monthly U.S. users under 25 this year. Getty Images

Despite yet another report about users under 25 fleeing Facebook, ad agencies appear to be staying the course, regardless of whether they’ve been bullish or bearish on the world’s largest social network.

According to new research from eMarketer, Facebook will lose 2 million monthly U.S. users under 25 this year, and it sees Snapchat picking up more of those lost users than Instagram. The research firm said 2018 will be the first year less than half of U.S. internet users between 12 and 17 are Facebook users.

For Periscope creative director Bridget Jewell, eMarketer’s forecast did not surprise her at all, and her agency’s approach of moving away from Facebook when targeting that age group won’t change.

“We have seen great success on Snapchat and Instagram with this demographic and will continue to seek opportunities here rather than [on] Facebook,” she said.

EMarketer sees monthly Facebook usage among those 12 and under in the U.S. falling 9.3 percent this year, forecasting a 5.6 percent drop in the 12-17 age group and a 5.5 percent decrease among 18- to 24-year-olds.

Jewell said Periscope has shifted its focus for the under-25 age group to Instagram and Snapchat, adding, “We have specifically started to focus more on Instagram Stories as more ad options become available with the functionality that the age group loves.

Snapchat and Instagram Stories are effective in reaching younger audiences; eMarketer predicted that Instagram will pick up 1.6 million users under 25 in the U.S. this year, but its projection for Snapchat came in higher at 1.9 million. The research firm believes the messaging application will continue to have more users between 12 and 24 than the Facebook-owned photo- and video-sharing network.

“Snapchat could eventually experience more growth in older age groups, since it’s redesigning its platform to be easier to use,” said eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson in a statement. “The question will be whether younger users will still find Snapchat cool if more of their parents and grandparents are on it. That’s the predicament Facebook is in.”

That said, the shift to Snapchat may be short-term. “It is going to be interesting to see what happens with the younger demo and growth on Snapchat as older users start to use Snapchat more,” Jewell added. “We also look for different ways as an agency to reach this demographic online, since they’re also shifting to more closed conversations via text and chat apps, which provide less options for brand advertising.”

In terms of overall monthly U.S. users at the end of 2018, eMarketer projected that Facebook will lead with 169.5 million, followed by Instagram (104.7 million) and Snapchat (86.5 million).

That huge gap explains why not much has changed for many agencies; Facebook is still valuable for all audiences an agency is trying to reach, including those under 25.

EMarketer’s estimates for monthly users differ from the numbers provided by the social networks for a few reasons. Firstly, Facebook counts someone who only visits the site once as a monthly user, while eMarketer looks for visitors who access their account “consistently each month throughout the calendar year.” Emarketer also relies “heavily” on survey data to exclude single users with multiple accounts, fake accounts, non-human accounts (pets, businesses, bots) and non-user-initiated contact with social networks’ databases, such as updates by third-party applications. David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.