DUBAI: Social media advertising spend in the Middle East was 22 percent higher in Q4 2021 than at any point over the past year, according to a report by customer experience platform Emplifi.
The sharp rise in spending compares with a 25 percent increase globally, the platform said in its analysis of social media data for the fourth quarter of last year.
The increased ad spend during the holiday season shows brands’ willingness to invest in social media advertising during the end-of-year period.
“Despite the introduction of Meta and the future looking at the Metaverse, Facebook will continue to be a prominent platform for ad spend,” Danielly Netto, Emplifi’s solutions marketing director and product evangelist, told Arab News.
During the last quarter of 2021, click-through-rates held steady globally, but cost-per-click increased, meaning marketers had to pay more for that audience.
In terms of organic social media, Facebook Live Video performed the highest with 38 median post interactions — scoring 31 interactions more than any other type of post. On Instagram, carousels and Instagram TV performed well, with both achieving 63 median post interactions.
As Facebook continues to lose younger users, it is no surprise that Instagram posts earned higher engagement globally than Facebook posts throughout Q4 2021.
“Today’s consumers spend most of their time on social media — that’s where they want to engage with brands and they have high expectations on responsiveness,” said Netto.
Emplifi’s global data shows that the time taken for brands to respond to users is slowly increasing on Facebook (one hour) and Instagram (2.6 hours). In contrast, time taken on Twitter has decreased by one hour since Q4 2020.
In the Middle East, the median response time on Twitter to users’ direct messages and questions in comments is less than two hours.
Netto said that as brands recognize the benefits of leveraging AI-powered chatbots to respond to frequently asked questions, “we expect that over time, there will be an increase in response rate and response time.”
The pandemic has led to a digital-first approach for brands.
Netto said that according to a recent study of 10 markets in the region, including the UAE and Saudi Arabia, 40 percent of respondents are shopping online more than they were before the coronavirus outbreak, and 69 percent in the Kingdom said they would maintain their current shopping habits after the pandemic.
“As a natural response to the increased online activity and people staying home, brands increasingly turned to ad spend on social media as a tool to turbo sales,” she said.
“Going back to 2019, just over a quarter of the total ad budget for brands in MENA went to social media channels. Fast forward to 2021, and researchers predict that social media will draw nearly a third of the total overall MENA ad spend by the end of the year.”