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Facebook Advertising Trends – Biggest Quarter Ever for Paid Facebook Advertising in Q4 2013

Written by: Laurie Cutts, Director of Marketing

According to data from Nanigans’ clients in Q4 2013, advertisers found their Facebook marketing delivered more revenue-per-click quarter over quarter (QOQ) and year-over-year (YOY) on desktop and mobile despite higher costs.

Some of our key findings for Q4 2013 include:

  • An increase in revenue per click by 27% YOY while cost-per-clicks decreased by 7%
  • 45% of Nanigans Q4 2013 ad spend was from mobile, up from 12% in Q4 2012
  • Females earned the most revenue per click ($.50 higher than males) and attracted the most ad dollars (65%)
  • Advertisers allocated 84% of their Facebook ad spend to users ages 25+

Global Facebook advertising benchmarks for Q4 2013

Click-through-rates (CTR) increased by 23% (QOQ) and 258% (YOY)

The increase in YOY CTRs shows that marketers are generating strong returns, indicating that marketers are seeing high engagement on Facebook. Marketers have shifted their focus to the News Feed and are constantly iterating their ad creative to feature compelling imagery and messaging to attract their ideal audiences. Higher CTRs may also reflect Facebook’s recent steps to streamline its ad formats and improve relevancy for consumers.

Figure 2: Facebook Ad CTR Q4 2012 – Q4 2013
 Facebook Ad CTR

Cost-per-impression (CPM) rates were up 42% (QOQ) and 234%(YOY)

The 3.3X increase in CPMs YOY shows the spike in demand which is most likely due to heightened demand for inventory as brands and agencies rush to meet their seasonal objectives. An interesting trend we noted is a spike in costs the last month of every quarter (on average an increase of 30% from the first to last month of the quarter) as advertisers rush to meet their quarterly volume goals.

Figure 3: Facebook Ad CPM Q4 2012 – Q4 2013

Facebook Ad CPM

Cost-per-click (CPC) rates were up 15% (QOQ) and down 7% (YOY)

Marketers continue to focus on CPC as a Key Performance Indicator (KPI). The increase in demand QOQ is most likely due to seasonality, but the 7% YOY decline indicates that Facebook marketers have become more sophisticated with Facebook’s targeting options and are increasingly only paying what each ad is worth based on their business objectives.

Figure 4: Facebook Ad CPC Q4 2012 – Q4 2013

 Facebook ad CPC

Revenue-per-click (RPC) was up 62% (QOQ) and 27% (YOY)

Despite higher average CPCs and CPMs, the RPC for Facebook advertisers has remained positive – meaning that advertisers can expect to realize greater value in sales revenue than the cost of their Facebook advertising investment. Advertisers are increasingly shifting their budgets to Facebook as it is the place for proven reach and ROI.

Figure 5: Facebook Ad RPC Q4 2012-Q4 2013

Facebook Ad RPC

Facebook Advertising Trends, Mobile vs. Desktop

Advertising spend on Facebook mobile surged 38% (QOQ) and accounted for 45% of Nanigans Q4 2013 ad spend.

In 2013, the surge in mobile adoption helped to grow Facebook’s mobile user base, creating new opportunities for marketers. With 945 million daily active mobile users, advertisers are embracing it as a critical engagement point with their base. Mobile ad spending is hitting new heights—45% of Nanigans Q4 ad spend was from mobile in 2013, up from 12% in Q4 2012. Facebook reported in Q4 2013 that 53% of its advertising revenue came from mobile.

Figure 6: Facebook Advertising Budget Allocated to Mobile vs. Desktop

Facebook mobile vs. desktop ad spend

Facebook mobile CPM rates increased 27% QOQ and 21% YOY, indicating a healthy demand for mobile ads. Desktop News Feed ad CPM rates increased 8% QOQ and 6X YOY as advertisers shifted spend to News Feed from RHS starting in Q2 of 2013.

Figure 7: Facebook Mobile vs. Desktop News Feed CPM, Q4 2012 – Q4 2013

Facebook mobile ad cpm

Facebook mobile ad CPC rates surged 27% QOQ and 46% YOY. Desktop News Feed ad CPC rates increased 20% QOQ and 111% YOY.

Figure 8: Facebook Mobile vs. Desktop News Feed CPC, Q4 2012 – Q4 2013

 Facebook mobile cpc

The average Facebook Mobile ad RPC increased by 57% QOQ and 15X YOY. Facebook desktop News Feed ad RPC increased by 25% QOQ and 217% YOY. This shows that Facebook is the place for advertisers to drive return on investment on mobile and desktop.

Figure 9: Facebook Mobile vs. Desktop News Feed, RPC Q4 2012 – Q4 2013

Facebook mobile revenue per click

Facebook Advertising Trends, by Demographics

When examining KPIs at the audience level, we found that on average females cost $.13 more than males, but delivered a $.50 higher RPC.

Figure 13: Facebook Ad RPC and CPC, Q1 2013 – Q4 2013, by Gender

 Facebook revenue by gender

Advertisers recognized the value of the Facebook female audience and on average, allocated 65% of their budget to females and 35% to males.

Figure 14: Facebook Ad Budget Allocation Q1 2013 – Q4 2013, by Gender

Facebook ad spend by gender 

When examining KPIs by age group, our revenue-per-click data suggests that the teen demographic, 18-24, is the worst monetizing demographic, and 45-54 is the best performing age group.

Figure 15: Facebook Ad RPC and CPC, Q1 2013 – Q4 2013, by Age


We found a similar trend when we mapped marketers’ Facebook ad budget allocation by Age Range. We extrapolated ad spend for traditional age ranges (18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54 and 55-64) and found that 84% of ad spend is allocated to ages 25+.

Figure 16: Facebook Ad Budget Allocation Q1 2013-Q4 2013, by Age


To analyze quarterly data in its historical context, an aggregate data set was built from the advertisers and partners who have been active on the Nanigans Ad Engine platform during the previous 12 months. Nanigans clients include 200 of the world’s leading performance marketers in ecommerce, gaming and pure-play internet businesses.

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