Despite Algorithm Disruptions, Publishers Still Prioritize Facebook for Paid Social Campaigns

Digital media companies are doing the same, according to a new study

The New York Times spends 50% of its ad budget on Facebook, while The Washington Post devotes 96% to the platform, according to the study. Getty Images, Facebook
Headshot of Sara Jerde

Even as Facebook algorithm changes continue to disrupt how publishers’ content is prioritized in news feeds, traditional and digital news outlets are still turning to the platform over its other social media rivals for their own paid social campaigns, according to an analysis conducted by BrandTotal, a company with an intelligence platform for marketers.

The analysis found that legacy publishers, like The New York Times and The Washington Post, spent a big portion of their ad budgets on Facebook, 50% for the Times and 96% for the Post. Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today invested more money in Twitter (54% for both). Of these four publishers, only one publication (the Post) invested any money at all in ads on YouTube, investing a marginal 1% in the platform.

“Traditional news publishers are directing their ad budgets toward platforms that are optimized for sharing links and articles, such as Facebook and Twitter, since they rely on social media platforms as a primary traffic driver to their home pages,” said Alon Leibovich, co-founder and CEO, BrandTotal, in a statement.

Meanwhile, the study found that digital media companies also invested in social campaigns on Facebook, including Now This (52% in Facebook), Insider (85%) and Vox (98%). BuzzFeed, though, went against the grain and didn’t advertise in the period BrandTotal analyzed. Instead, the company noticed that the publisher drew its audience in more from Instagram (53%) over Twitter (27%) and Facebook (18%).

“From our data, we’re seeing that the majority of publishers are still leaning on Facebook as part of their paid social strategy, which potentially underscores the platform’s revenue potential for publishers,” Leibovich said.

Read the full report here.


@SaraJerde sara.jerde@adweek.com Sara Jerde is publishing editor at Adweek, where she covers traditional and digital publishers’ business models. She also oversees political coverage ahead of the 2020 election.