Research Reveals Majority of Retailers Will Increase Social Advertising Spend on Facebook in 2021

81% of retail marketers wish to automate at least part of the creation and delivery of social advertisements in the New Year

NEW YORK--(), the leading social advertising automation platform for designers and performance marketers, today announced new research outlining how retail organizations are spending their marketing dollars on social media advertising. Based on a survey of 300 senior marketing executives from retail organizations around the world, the report examines year-over-year findings while also exploring new topics to determine how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted social advertising and will inform 2021 marketing plans.

Consumers’ accelerated shift to digital channels drove up social advertising spend for retailers

In 2020, consumers rapidly shifted to digital channels as brick-and-mortar retail locations closed their doors and furloughed many of their employees. In response, brands looked to boost their broad online presence, including spending on advertising. In fact, found that most companies surveyed (66%) have an annual marketing budget of $20 million or more, and most (74%) currently allocate 31% or more of their marketing budget to social media advertising, where 12% allocate 51% or more.

This trend will continue into the New Year -- with all social platforms getting more love

In 2021, many companies plan to increase their advertising spend on social channels -- including Facebook (76%), Twitter (44%) and Instagram (38%). Notably, while more than one-third (36%) of companies surveyed are currently spending more on Facebook, almost half (42%) say they see the best return on ad spend (ROAS) from Instagram -- compared to just 21% who reported this in 2019. Overall, retail organizations in both Europe and the U.S. spend heavily on Instagram ads, while those in Asia are spending far less.

“The past year has proved the prominence of social media within the marketing stack,” said Robert Rothschild, VP and global head of marketing at “Retail marketers have always understood the value that social media advertising brings to their campaigns, but with a global pandemic accelerating the shift to digital, it has been an essential ingredient to engaging with the right consumers. While our recent research indicates creative remains the primary performance lever, many retail marketers acknowledged that their social media advertising and creative teams still do not collaborate effectively at all stages of the marketing process. In 2021, it’s time to bridge the gap between performance and creative teams, and invest in technology to scale creative and improve ad performance that will empower teams to work more seamlessly -- even in a remote environment.”

Additional findings from the study include:

  • Instagram is quickly becoming a favorite platform among retailers: 90% of respondents reported buying ads on the platform, in comparison to just 56% last year
  • Most respondents (72%) agree their social media advertising creation and delivery involves manual processes that are often time-consuming
  • 56% of respondents claim having social media advertising and creative teams work together more closely is among their plans for 2021

To read more about this research and learn how to better prepare your retail organization in 2021 to cater to evolving consumer behaviors, download the complete research report.

About the Study

In October of 2020, partnered with WBR Insights and eTail to poll 300 leaders from retail organizations around the world. Exactly half of the respondents were based in the United States (28%), the United Kingdom (13%) and India (9%). Meanwhile, 8% of respondents were located in Australia and 5% in Indonesia. The remaining respondents represent various other countries in Europe, Asia and North America. Respondents spanned roles in brand marketing, eCommerce and media, and gave their answers via phone call. All respondents were age 18+ and senior digital leaders in sectors like apparel, home furnishing, supermarkets, retail and department stores.


Powering beautifully effective ads, automates every step of social advertising to unlock greater performance and creativity. We combine creative production and ad buying automation with outstanding customer service to help 600+ brands scale their results – not headcount – on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. We are a fast-growing community of 400+ Smartlies with 16 offices around the world, managing over €2.5B in ad spend and growing rapidly and profitably. Visit to learn more.


Ellie Breslin
PAN Communications

Release Summary announced new research outlining how retail organizations are spending their marketing dollars on social media advertising.


Ellie Breslin
PAN Communications