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Facebook ad engagement equal to social networking, study finds

Facebook users are engaging just as much with ads as they are with each other, according to new data from Hootsuite and We Are Social. 

When examining Facebook activity frequency, a typical user on average likes 11 posts per month, and also clicks on 11 in-platform adverts per month, posing the question - is Facebook just as much an advertising platform as it is a social network?

According to the Hootsuite and We Are Social's Digital 2021 Global Report, Australia is the fourth highest country for median monthly Facebook ad clicks (21) globally, behind Israel (#1), Denmark (#2) and Romania (#3), which is almost double the global average (11).

From a demographic segmentation perspective, women are more likely to click on Facebook ads, particularly those aged 45-64. However, when looking at males, those aged 35-44 are more likely to engage with Facebook ads.

The way we discover products and brands is shifting with 28% of internet users aged 16 to 64 saying they discover brands and products through ads on social media, compared to search engines at 33.9%.

Facebook remains the world's most used social platform, followed by YouTube and WhatsApp. Facebook-owned apps account for four of the top five most-used social platforms globally.

Individual social platforms are also subject to significant audience overlaps, with 85% of TikTok users aged 16 to 64 saying they use Facebook, and almost 95% of Instagram users in the same age group saying they also use YouTube.

"The Digital Report for 2021 demonstrates that the digital world we live in is being driven by the power and breadth of social, and accelerated by the pandemic, which is fundamentally transforming our personal and professional lives," says Henk Campher, vice president corporate marketing, Hootsuite.

"With social media usage averaging close to two and a half hours per day, 37% of internet users looking to social media to stay updated on news, brand discovery finding its home on social over search engines, and 2 in 5 professionals using social media for work purposes, brands have never had more incentive to authentically connect with their target audiences through relevant channels," he explains. 

"Australia is also being influenced by these global trends, with 63.9% of Aussies revealing their concern about misinformation and 'fake news' on the internet and the country being the fourth highest for median monthly ad clicks (21) behind Israel (#1), Denmark (#2) and Romania (#3), at almost double the global average of 11 ad clicks."

Suzie Shaw, managing director of We Are Social Australia, adds, "Every year for the last decade, we have seen growth in the penetration of social and digital, and last year was only different in that the growth rate was even steeper than the year before. 

"The other notable shifts in Australia were the growth in penetration of online shopping and social gaming; two areas for brands to explore and master, if they haven't already."