Advertisers report low confidence in most digital ad channels

The news: A survey of 70 professionals at independent advertising agencies conducted by Digiday+ shows that despite increased spending on digital ad channels, many advertisers are not confident that digital ad channels are driving results.

  • Digiday+ asked respondents to rank digital channels on a five-point scale, ranging from “not at all confident” to “extremely confident.”

More on this: Facebook and Google dominate digital channels in ad spend, but changes to privacy rules and measurement methods have affected advertisers’ faith in their impact.

  • Respondents expressed more confidence in Google than other platforms: Two-thirds of respondents said it makes up “at least a large portion” of their ad spend, and 68% of that portion said they feel either confident or extremely confident in its results. Even YouTube lagged far behind—only 43% of the 18% who said it makes up a large portion of their spending felt confident in results.
  • Instagram and Facebook came in a distant second both in ad spend and confidence—55% and 56% of respondents said the two platforms make up a large portion of their ad spend, respectively. Confidence among those respondents clocked in at 57% and 53%, respectively.

Shaken confidence: None of the eight channels mentioned in the survey scored a confidence rating higher than 43%.

  • Few advertisers said they had “extremely low” confidence in the different channels—instead, results indicate that advertisers aren’t yet fully convinced of their impact.
  • Among respondents who said they were “confident” in a given channel, Amazon scored the highest at 43%, despite nearly half of respondents saying they didn’t spend on it.
  • Google and TV came in second at 37%, followed by Instagram at 36%, Facebook and YouTube at 35%, TikTok at 26%, and display ads at 22%.

Why it’s worth watching: 2020 forced agencies to pivot away from traditional advertising channels like TV and out-of-home advertising, but platforms still have a ways to go to make advertisers comfortable.

  • The pivot to digital channels has coincided with dramatic changes in the way digital ad tracking works. Legacy trackers like third-party browser cookies and Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) are being phased out or have changed entirely.
  • Facebook and other platforms have struggled to find new models that satisfy old needs. The road bumps they’ve hit along the way have raised questions: Earlier this month, for instance, Facebook revealed that an undetected bug had affected advertiser data as far back as February.