Will Ad Dollars Continue Shifting From Facebook to Instagram in 2019?

Socialbakers pointed to stronger engagement, Stories as reasons for the shift

It's a trend that's likely to continue in 2019. Illustration: Amber McAden; Sources: Instagram, iStock

Marketers began shifting ad dollars from Facebook to Instagram in 2018, and social media management platform Socialbakers only sees that trend gaining momentum in 2019.

Socialbakers CEO Yuval Ben-Itzhak told Adweek the company focused on Facebook and Instagram because of their dominance in audience size and engagement.

“Twitter and Snapchat would be tiny dots on the chart compared to what you see with the Facebook services,” Ben-Itzhak said. “Facebook is of a scale where no one can actually hurt it other than it hurting itself. We don’t see marketers shifting budgets to Snapchat, Twitter or wherever.”

And while Instagram’s audience size still trails that of its parent company, Ben-Itzhak said, “marketers care about where their audiences are and where engagement is happening.”

The company said in its 2019 social media trends report, which it released Tuesday, that although ad spend on Instagram tapered off slightly after June, the photo- and video-sharing network is still “the go-to for capturing quality engagement within smaller communities.”

Socialbakers also noted a shift in ad dollars from Instagram’s feed to Stories and showed that content from the fashion and beauty industries drew the most engagement on Instagram in 2018, while Facebook was led by ecommerce and “others.”


Socialbakers said that while Instagram posts are still seeing 15 percent more reach and 25 percent more impressions than Stories, those metrics will continue to rise as Stories adoption increases among users.

Instagram managed to not get caught up in the whirlwind of controversies that consumed its parent company throughout 2018, but Ben-Itzhak didn’t see that as a reason for the ad-spend shift.

“The overall trend is down for engagement on Facebook,” he said. “Facebook’s push toward meaningful conversation was a factor. There is almost zero correlation with Cambridge Analytica.”

The shift away from images toward video finally took hold on Facebook and Instagram in 2018, with video’s percentage of promoted posts catching up to that of images in September. Socialbakers sees this continuing in 2019.


“Static images won’t completely disappear, like text, but it’s not going to continue to be a content format that a lot of people will engage with,” Ben-Itzhak said.

Socialbakers found that the median number of interactions with the top 500 global brand and media posts on Facebook fell 50 percent throughout 2018 from January levels, noting that this was expected due to the social network’s well publicized algorithm changes.

Fraud in the influencer marketing sector emerged as a key issue in 2018. Socialbakers said the three main types of fraudulent activity are fake followers, fake engagement and fake interests, adding that brands should focus on two key data points—performance over an extended time period and engagement level per 1,000 fans—to help determine whether influencer accounts are authentic.

Finally, Socialbakers stressed the importance of data in the decision-making process for campaigns.

“In 2019, good data will still be imperative to help you know precisely where to invest your advertising budget in order to maximize reach, engagement and business impact,” Ben-Itzhak said in the statement.

david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.