Research Briefing: Marketers question Threads’ value, but are publishers cooling on Meta’s Facebook too?

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Welcome to the Digiday+ Research Briefing, your weekly curation of media and marketing research insights. Digiday+ members have access to the research below. 

In this edition, we share focal points from Digiday’s recently released reports on whether publishers are cooling on Facebook and how marketers are currently investing in ad-supported streaming services.

91% of publishers posted content to Facebook in the last month, down from 99% last year

Brands want to be where consumers — and their wallets — are spending time. In July, Meta-owned Threads seemed to be that place, surging to over 100 million sign-ups in the first week to become the fastest-adopted platform, and, perhaps, an alternative to Twitter (now X). But, two months later, Threads has lost half of its user base, calling into question the app’s staying power. 

With its declining user base and perhaps cultural relevance, agency executives say clients are unsure what to make of Threads. The bulk of client ad spend and interest resides in Meta’s Facebook and Instagram, according to these execs — although Threads has yet to roll out ad opportunities.

Publishers’ navigation of Threads has been somewhat uncertain as well, and publishers’ use of its much older Meta sibling Facebook may be cooling off too. Digiday+ Research surveyed around 200 publisher professionals in 2021, 2022 and 2023 about their use of different social media platforms and found that publishers’ use of Facebook has actually fallen since last year.

Ninety-one percent of publisher pros said this year that their titles posted content to Facebook in the last month. This is admittedly a high percentage, but it’s down from the 99% who said the same last year and even the 95% who said they posted to Facebook in 2021. The frequency with which publishers are posting content on Facebook supports their potential cooling on the platform. In 2021, 85% of publishers said they posted content on Facebook every day. That fell to just under three-quarters last year (74%) and then held fairly steady at 73% this year.

It may be that publishers are finding Facebook less relevant to their brands, similar to marketers’ concerns about Threads. Overall, Digiday’s survey found that all publishers still think that Facebook is at least a little brand-appropriate for their titles. Not one respondent to this year’s survey said the platform is not appropriate at all for their brand. However, the percentage of publisher pros who said Facebook is not very appropriate for their brand saw a jump this year — from 8% in 2022 to 15% in 2023. 

While one year’s worth of a difference isn’t exactly enough to say for sure that publishers are officially cooling on Facebook, it will certainly be worth watching the numbers to see what happens in the coming years, both for Facebook and Meta’s newer platform Threads.

Key findings:

  • Publisher pros who said Facebook is appropriate for their brand (as opposed to extremely or somewhat appropriate) fell from 41% last year to just more than a third (35%) this year.
  • Most publishers do still consider Facebook to be brand-appropriate. Eighty-five percent of publisher pros told Digiday this year that the platform is at least somewhat brand-appropriate for their brand. But that percentage is a decrease from the 92% who said the same last year (the same percentage said so the year before).

Read more about publishers use of Facebook

CMO Strategies: Ad-supported streaming captures viewers, but doesn’t yet dominate marketers’ playbooks

Americans have been adopting ad-supported streaming services at a faster rate than purely subscription-based options. However, as a newer addition to the marketing space than other channels, ad-supported streaming is the channel marketers use the least among the four Digiday assessed in our CMO Strategies series. 

Slightly more than one-quarter of respondents (28%) said they use ad-supported streaming versus, for example, more than one-third of respondents (38%) who use retail media — also a newer marketing channel.

Ad inventory isn’t the problem for ad-supported streaming services, as advertisers are seemingly awash in streaming ad inventory. Netflix has finally joined the ad-supported streaming landscape, and so has Disney+. Amazon is also reportedly considering an ad-supported tier of its Prime Video streaming service.

However, advertisers are generally of one mind when it comes to the biggest challenges they face when placing ads on ad-supported streaming services: More than half of marketer respondents selected cost of media as their top challenge on all platforms, excluding Amazon Freevee and Pluto TV, where lack of scale was their main barrier.

Peacock skewed more heavily toward cost than other platforms, with three-quarters (75%) of respondents saying cost of media was the top challenge they faced with Peacock. The next platforms where cost of media was a main hurdle were Hulu and Discovery+, both at 56% of respondents, followed by YouTube and The Roku Channel at 53% each. 

Perhaps in response to advertisers’ concerns, or in accordance with the law of supply and demand, some major ad-supported streaming services recently lowered their rates during this year’s upfront negotiations, according to agency executives. Some executives estimated that the amount of ad dollars committed to streaming in this year’s upfront increased by roughly 5% to 10% compared to last year, but per the agency executives, major ad-supported streamers rolled back their ad prices by the same 5% to 10% range.

Key findings:

  • Marketers found lack of scale to be the top challenge on two of the 13 platforms, with 56% of respondents saying lack of scale was the top challenge on Amazon Freevee and 43% saying the same of Pluto TV. While no clear trend emerges when analyzing two platforms, in general, smaller ad-supported streaming platforms have less audience reach. And many ad-supported streaming platforms are nascent offerings, with lower numbers of users signing on initially, which was the case for Netflix Standard with Ads.
  • Advertisers are also concerned about brand safety, particularly on YouTube, where 33% percent of respondents said they had brand safety concerns. Marketers have always been cautious about media placements appearing alongside content that could negatively affect a brand, but in YouTube’s case, those worries are amplified by the platform’s user-generated content.

Read more about marketers’ investments in streaming

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