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The true cost of social media ads in 2024

Drawing on an analysis of tens of billions of ad impressions, Gupta Media's State of Social Media CPM Report is the definitive guide to the cost of paid social media ads on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter/X, YouTube, and more. Uncover ad-rate trends, seasonal fluctuations, and valuable cost-saving tactics for your marketing strategy.

Social Media Ad Rates, 2023-2024.

Chart: Social Media Ad Rates, 2021-2024, using 14-day trailing average CPM rates for Meta, TikTok, Twitter/X, and YouTube. Source: Gupta Media's Social Media CPM Tracker, where you can track and compare real-time and historic fluctuations in Social Media CPMs, including CPM rates for Instagram Reels, Instagram Stories, Google Discovery, Google Performance Max, Snapchat, and Pinterest.

We examined CPM rates across eight platforms and tens of billions of ad impressions to deliver precise insights on exactly how and when CPM rates rise and fall over the course of the year. In a first-of-its-kind report, we break down the seasonal and year-over-year trends in social media ad costs—allowing marketing professionals to set benchmarks for their campaigns, plan budgets, unlock unexpected value, and anticipate seasonal cost fluctuations that can sidetrack your paid-media efforts during key parts of the year. 

While CPM (cost per thousand impressions) is just one metric among many used to measure the cost of high-impact marketing performance, it’s a bellwether for both investors and advertisers to understand the relative values and costs associated with a platform. When a platform’s CPM rate tumbles—as it did for Facebook during the COVID lockdown in 2020—its revenue tends to fall as well. And when CPM rates soar—as they typically do around Black Friday and Cyber Monday—marketers need to adjust the efficiency of their advertising in order to hit their goals. 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

We examined CPM rates for Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter/X, and YouTube. For each platform, we present data-backed answers on questions including: 

  • What are the most and least expensive days, weeks, and months of the year for social media CPMs?
  • Are CPM rates rising or falling year over year? And are they rising or falling more quickly than in previous years?      
  • What social media platforms provide the most value for your paid-media spend during high-impact seasons such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the Q4 holiday season?

Among our most surprising findings: 

  • Twitter’s ad rates plunged more than 75% after the platform was purchased by Elon Musk, dropping to as low as $0.61 CPM in August, 2023—a three-year low. Twitter/X saw, by far, the largest year-over-year decrease in CPM rates of any platform we measured. 
  • One bright spot for Twitter/X: The company’s CPM rates actually rose the week after the launch of Meta’s competing service, Threads, after Meta’s leadership signaled that Threads would not be ad-supported in the near future, and would not be integrated into Meta’s Business Suite in 2023. CPM rates at Twitter/X were briefly up 72%, but a week later continued on their decline to the basement. 
  • Competition for consumer attention in November and December—specifically around Black Friday and Cyber Monday—is driving seasonal CPM increases by as much as 66% during the holiday shopping season. 
  • TikTok is experiencing the fastest year-over-year growth in ad rates, with a 12.28% increase in CPM. While TikTok ads remain cheaper than those of Meta (Facebook and Instagram), TikTok’s rates are growing at nearly double the rate of Meta. 

This study follows on the work of our groundbreaking Social Media CPM Tracker, launched just months into the COVID-19 lockdown. In our 2020 research, cited by the New York Times, Reuters, Goldman Sachs, Guggenheim Partners, and others, we surfaced data on the plunging ad rates on Facebook. In the ensuing years, we extended our real-time data sets to include advertising rates for platforms including Instagram, TikTok, Twitter/X, Google, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and Pinterest. This year, for the first time, we’re publishing a state-of-the-art report that examines trends in CPM rates across the industry—digging into seasonal fluctuations, differences between platforms, and uncovering insights that can help advertisers and agencies plan ahead to make more efficient use of their media budgets.

How much do social media ads cost in 2024?

Drawing on tens of millions of ad impressions over a range of industries, we calculated the average CPM rates for the top social media platforms. In 2024, the average annual CPM rates are as follows: 

PLATFORM

2024 AVG CPM RATE

Meta (Facebook & Instagram)

$5.98

TikTok

$2.69

Twitter/X

$1.73

YouTube

$2.52

Google Display

$2.83

Table: 2024 Average CPM rates as of February 6, 2024. Source: Gupta Media Social CPM Tracker, 2024.

For each social media platform, CPM rates, cost per link click (CPLC) rates, and link clickthrough (LCTR) rates can change drastically throughout the year. To help brands, agencies, and advertisers to anticipate seasonal fluctuations, we investigated the average CPM rates for each social platform over the course of the past three years. For instance, the chart below shows the variation of CPM rates for the 12-month period of September, 2022 through August, 2023 on Meta (Facebook and Instagram), TikTok, Twitter/X, and YouTube:  

Chart: Social Media Ad Rates, 2023, using 14-day trailing average CPM rates for Meta, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube

Chart: Social Media Ad Rates, 2023, using 14-day trailing average CPM rates for Meta, TikTok, Twitter/X, and YouTube. Source: Gupta Social Media CPM Tracker, 2023.

Since CPM rates change dramatically from month to month—and sometimes from week to week, or day to day—to truly understand the shape of CPM rates on social media, we need to ask a better question: When are CPM rates higher or lower?

As you can see in the chart above, some platforms conform to similar seasonal patterns—while others follow an internal logic all their own.

To better understand CPM rates in 2024, we broke down the data on each platform to unlock insights on how ad cost can change not just from year to year, but over the course of your campaigns.

How much do Facebook and Instagram ads cost in 2024?

In February 2024, the average CPM for Meta (Facebook and Instagram) is currently $5.98. The average CPLC is $0.60. And the average LCTR is 0.99%.

Meta, February 2024

Avg. CPM: $5.98

Avg. CPLC: $0.60

Avg LCTR: 0.99%

Table: Facebook and Instagram Current Advertising Costs, Updated in February, 2024. Source: Gupta Media Social CPM Tracker 2024.

Facebook and Instagram, the pioneers in social-media advertising, remain the standard against which other platforms are measured—providing brands with a potent combination of reach, engagement, and precision targeting. With their combined strengths, advertising on these platforms offers a multifaceted approach to performance marketing, ensuring that brands can remain front and center in the ever-evolving digital landscape.

While Facebook has transformed the way we connect, communicate, and share, Instagram has emerged as the premier platform for visual storytelling, lifestyle inspiration, and influencer-led content. Meta’s combined granular targeting capabilities—leveraging user data like demographics, interests, and behaviors—ensure that brands can reach the precise audience they aim for. This makes ad spend more efficient and results more relevant. Driven by advertiser demand, Meta’s ad platforms have continued to evolve with new features and focus. With Instagram's Shop feature and Facebook's Marketplace, the path from discovery to purchase is more streamlined than ever. Brands can directly drive sales from their ads, offering users a frictionless shopping experience.

The synergies between Facebook and Instagram mean that brands can create integrated campaigns that flow seamlessly across both platforms, optimizing reach and engagement. Beyond mere advertising, these platforms enable brands to build and nurture communities. Engaging content, coupled with ads, fosters brand loyalty and turns customers into brand advocates. And both Instagram and Facebook offer detailed insights and analytics, allowing brands to measure their campaign performance in real-time, understand user engagement, and refine strategies based on direct feedback.

Chart: Meta (Facebook and Instagram) daily average CPM rates, September 2022-August 2023Chart: Meta (Facebook and Instagram) daily average CPM rates, September 2022-August 2023. Source: Gupta Media CPM Tracker 2023.

The most expensive month for Facebook and Instagram ads is November, with an average $8.80 CPM. The most expensive day of the week for Facebook and Instagram ads is Friday, with an average $7.20 CPM. The most expensive week of the year for Facebook and Instagram is the 47th week — not surprising, since it’s the one that includes Black Friday. In fact, the top five most expensive weeks of the year all fall in November and December. However, we also see weekly jumps in CPM around Week 12 (March 20-26), with an average $7.80 CPM; Week 21 (May 22-May 28), with a $7.64 CPM; and Week 28 (July 10-July 16), with a $7.86 CPM. 

MONTH

Meta Avg CPM

Meta Avg CPLC

Meta Avg LCTR

January 2024

$6.05

$0.72

0.84%

December 2023

$7.62

$1.24

0.62%

November 2023

$8.80

$1.09

0.81%

October 2023

$7.62

$1.03

0.74%

September 2023

$7.65

$0.90

0.85%

August 2023

$7.03

$0.78

0.90%

July 2023

$6.98

$0.96

0.73%

June 2023

$7.30

$0.89

0.82%

May 2023

$7.05

$0.74

0.96%

April 2023

$6.89

$0.82

0.84%

March 2023

$7.58

$0.63

1.20%

February 2023

$6.74

$0.54

1.25%

January 2023

$6.21

$0.63

0.98%

December 2022

$7.41

$0.73

1.02%

November 2022

$8.28

$0.67

1.24%

October 2022

$6.77

$0.83

0.82%

September 2022

$6.73

$0.86

0.79%

Table: Meta’s average monthly CPM, cost per link click (CPLC), and link click-through rate (LCTR), September 2022-January 2024. Source: Gupta Social Media Tracker, February 2024.

How much do TikTok ads cost in 2024?

In the most recent month available for 2024, the current average CPM for TikTok is $2.69. The average CPLC is $0.21. And the average LCTR is 1.28%.

TikTok, February 2024

Avg CPM: $2.69

Avg. CPLC: $0.21

Avg. LCTR: 1.28%

Table: TikTok Current Advertising Costs, Updated February, 2024. Source: Gupta Media Social CPM Tracker 2024.

TikTok’s popularity continues to grow, transforming from a hub for short-form videos into one of the world's most engaging and dynamic platforms. For brands seeking to amplify their reach and resonate with a young, tech-savvy audience, advertising on TikTok has moved from a nice-to-have to a priority. Rooted in creativity, authenticity, and user participation, TikTok allows brands to tap into trends, challenges, and user-generated content, offering a more organic and engaging way to promote products and services.

Not only is TikTok’s user base growing, but it boasts an engaged audience actively searching for the next big thing. GenZ and Millennials make up over half of TikTok’s 146 million monthly active users, and its audience skews both younger and female. And thanks to an algorithm that prizes virality, brands that craft compelling, trend-worthy content have the chance to be showcased to a massive audience, often beyond their target demographic. TikTok's advertising platform allows brands to pinpoint their ideal audience based on demographics, behaviors, interests, and more. With features like "Shop Now" buttons and shoppable video links, brands can drive direct sales from within the app, creating a seamless shopping experience.

Chart: TikTok daily average CPM rates, September 2022-August 2023Chart: TikTok daily average CPM rates, September 2022-August 2023. Source: Gupta Social Media CPM Tracker, 2024. 

The most expensive month for TikTok ads is December, with an average $4.15 CPM. The most expensive day of the week for TikTok ads is Wednesday, with an average $3.43 CPM. The most expensive week of the year for TikTok is the 50th week (December 12-18), with an average CPM of $4.69. In 2022, Meta CPMs plummeted the first week of December—but the reverse was true on TikTok, where CPMs remained elevated through the end of the month.

MONTH

TikTok Avg CPM

TikTok Avg CPLC

TikTok Avg LCTR

January 2024

$2.25

$0.27

0.83%

December 2023

$4.23

$0.29

1.45%

November 2023

$3.69

$0.28

1.31%

October 2023

$3.53

$0.33

1.06%

September 2023

$4.12

$0.30

1.38%

August 2023

$3.73

$0.23

1.64%

July 2023

$3.30

$0.40

0.82%

June 2023

$3.45

$0.26

1.31%

May 2023

$3.49

$0.30

1.16%

April 2023

$3.08

$0.32

0.96%

March 2023

$2.89

$0.28

1.03%

February 2023

$3.02

$0.27

1.14%

January 2023

$2.76

$0.22

1.28%

December 2022

$4.15

$0.46

0.90%

November 2022

$3.14

$0.39

0.81%

October 2022

$3.51

$0.50

0.71%

September 2022

$3.46

$0.34

1.01%

Table: TikTok monthly average CPM, CTLC, LCTR. Source: Gupta Media Social CPM Tracker February 2024.

How much do Twitter/X ads cost in 2024?

The price of Twitter/X ads has fallen dramatically since Elon Musk’s acquisition of the company in October, 2022. An analysis of tens of billions of ad impressions via Gupta Media’s Social Media CPM Tracker shows that Twitter’s average CPM has fallen by over 70%, reaching a three-year low in August, 2023—the lowest, in fact, since our measurements began in 2020. (For more detail, see “How much have social media ad prices changed?”, below). 

In the most recent month available for 2024, the current average CPM for Twitter/X is $1.73. The average CPLC is $0.07. And the average LCTR is 2.54%.

Twitter, Feb. 2024

Average CPM: $1.73

Average CPLC: $0.07

Average LCTR: 2.54%

Table: Twitter’s average CPM, CPLC, and LCTR, updated February, 2024. Source: Gupta Media.

Musk’s acquisition of Twitter/X has led to a “massive” drop in revenue, advertisers pulling spend, and increased concern for brand safety. While we’re having honest conversations with our clients about what makes sense for their business based on the platform’s evolution, we still see tremendous value on Twitter/X, especially when it comes to capitalizing on big moments and conversations. 

Chart: Twitter/X average daily CPM rates, September 2022-August 2023Chart: Twitter/X average daily CPM rates, September 2022-August 2023. Source: Gupta Social Media CPM Tracker, 2024. 

Since Musk’s acquisition, CPM rates on Twitter/X have fallen every month with the exception of slight rebounds in February and May, 2023. This overall price volatility makes it difficult to predict future trends, but CPM rates have tended to peak at midweek, with the most expensive day of the week for Twitter ads falling on Wednesday, with an average $1.51 CPM. 

MONTH

Twitter/X Avg. CPM

Twitter/X Avg. CPLC

Twitter/X Avg. LCTR

Jan. 2024

$3.11

$0.13

2.38%

Dec. 2023

$1.36

$0.24

0.57%

Nov. 2023

$1.03

$0.44

0.24%

Oct. 2023

$0.98

$0.90

0.11%

Sept. 2023

$1.76

$0.70

0.25%

Aug. 2023

$0.65

$0.31

0.21%

July 2023

$1.21

$0.61

0.20%

June 2023

$1.21

$0.53

0.23%

May 2023

$1.79

$0.36

0.50%

April 2023

$1.44

$0.42

0.34%

Mar. 2023

$2.01

$0.35

0.57%

Feb. 2023

$2.04

$0.44

0.47%

Jan. 2023

$1.75

$0.32

0.54%

Dec. 2022

$2.18

$0.45

0.48%

Nov. 2022

$2.82

$0.73

0.38%

Oct. 2022

$5.43

$1.30

0.42%

Sept. 2022

$5.77

$1.29

0.45%

Table: Average monthly CPM, CPLC, and LCTR for Twitter/X, September 2022-January 2024. Source: Gupta Social Media CPM Tracker 2024.

How much do YouTube ads cost in 2024?

In the most recent month available for 2024, the current average CPM for YouTube is $2.52. The average CPLC is $1.63. 

YouTube, January 2024

Avg. CPM: $2.52

Avg. CPLC: $1.63

Table: YouTube's average CPM and CPLC, updated February 2024. Source: Gupta Social Media CPM Tracker, 2024.

Even with stiff competition from TikTok and Instagram’s Reels, YouTube reigns as the undisputed king of video content. In both form and content, it has not only redefined entertainment but has also sculpted new pathways for information dissemination, education, and branding. Boasting billions of views daily, the platform intertwines diverse global cultures, interests, and demographics under one digital roof. In July, 2023, Google announced that more than 2 billion logged-in monthly users are watching its YouTube Shorts—up from 1.5 billion the year prior—confirming that the leader of the pack has no intention of ceding the new playing field of mobile video to its challengers. 

The most expensive month for YouTube ads is February, with an average $4.01 CPM. The most expensive day of the week for YouTube ads is Friday, with an average $3.17 CPM. The most expensive week of the year for YouTube is the eight—the one that contained the 2022 Super Bowl—with an average CPM of $5.15. 

Chart: YouTube daily average CPM rates, September 2022-August 2023Chart: YouTube daily average CPM rates, September 2022-August 2023. SOURCE: Gupta Social Media Tracker, 2023.

MONTH

YouTube Avg. CPM

YouTube Avg. CPLC

Jan. 2024

$2.99

$1.76

Dec. 2023

$4.06

$2.89

Nov. 2023

$4.93

$5.42

Oct. 2023

$5.72

$5.24

Sept. 2022

$3.57

$7.00

Oct. 2022

$3.93

$10.43

Nov. 2022

$3.44

$8.75

Dec. 2022

$3.93

$9.70

Jan. 2023

$3.43

$7.25

Feb. 2023

$4.01

$5.71

Mar. 2023

$2.51

$4.71

April 2023

$1.95

$2.97

May 2023

$3.51

$4.84

June 2023

$2.62

$4.60

July 2023

$3.20

$4.54

Aug. 2023

$2.88

$2.63

Table: Average monthly CPM and CPLC for YouTube, updated February 2024. Source: Gupta Social Media CPM Tracker 2024.

What are the most expensive and least expensive months for social media ads?

CPM rates vary seasonally by platform—often peaking during the Q4 holiday season (see “Black Friday,” below), and dropping off significantly in Q1. But each platform has its own cost fingerprint, as outlined in the charts below: 

Chart: Meta (Facebook and Instagram), TikTok, Twitter/X, and YouTube monthly average CPMs by platform, September 2022-August 2023.

Chart: Meta (Facebook and Instagram), TikTok, Twitter/X, and YouTube monthly average CPMs by platform, September 2022-August 2023. Source: Gupta Media Social CPM Tracker 2023.

What are the most expensive and least expensive days of the week for social media ads?

Seasonal fluctuations generally have a much bigger impact on CPM cost than the day of the week. But, we wondered: Does day matter? We crunched the numbers to find out the relative cost for each day of the week on each social platform. 

Table: Meta (Facebook and Instagram) average CPM by day of the week, 2023. Source: Gupta Media CPM Tracker.

Weekday

Meta Avg. CPM

Meta Avg. CPLC

Monday

$6.58

$0.73

Tuesday

$6.96

$0.74

Wednesday

$7.11

$0.76

Thursday

$7.12

$0.75

Friday

$7.20

$0.77

Saturday

$7.06

$0.71

Sunday

$6.69

$0.72


Table: TikTok average CPM by day of the week, 2023. Source: Gupta Media Social CPM Tracker. 

Weekday

TikTok Avg. CPM

TikTok Avg. CPLC

Monday

$3.17

$0.25

Tuesday

$3.33

$0.24

Wednesday

$3.43

$0.27

Thursday

$3.41

$0.29

Friday

$3.36

$0.31

Saturday

$3.17

$0.29

Sunday

$3.08

$0.28


Table: Twitter/X average CPM by day of the week, 2023. Source: Gupta Media Social CPM Tracker. 

Weekday

Twitter Avg. CPM

Twitter Avg. CPLC

Monday

$0.94

$0.37

Tuesday

$1.06

$0.41

Wednesday

$1.51

$0.55

Thursday

$1.23

$0.43

Friday

$1.19

$0.45

Saturday

$1.18

$0.41

Sunday

$1.12

$0.40


Table: YouTube average CPM by day of the week, 2023. Source: Gupta Media Social CPM Tracker. 

Weekday

YouTube Avg. CPM

YouTube Avg. CPLC

Monday

$2.98

$4.66

Tuesday

$2.98

$4.48

Wednesday

$2.97

$4.82

Thursday

$3.12

$4.77

Friday

$3.17

$4.49

Saturday

$3.06

$4.47

Sunday

$3.06

$4.61

Is the cost of Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube ads rising or falling?

With the exception of a multi-year downturn due to the COVID-19 lockdown, CPM rates have tended to rise year-over-year. To help predict future trends, we wanted to understand which social-media platforms are experiencing the fastest growth in CPM rates, and which platforms are experiencing decline. 

Chart: Year over year change in CPM rates for Meta, Twitter, and TikTokChart: Year over year change in CPM rates for Meta, Twitter/X, and TikTok. Source: Gupta Social Media CPM Tracker, 2023. 

While TikTok ads are still cheaper than Meta ads, the price of TikTok ads is increasing faster than ads on Facebook and Instagram.

In fact, our data shows that TikTok is experiencing the fastest year-over-year growth in CPM rates, with a 12.28% increase in CPM in 2023 as compared to 2022—and a whopping 90% increase in CPM since 2021. By comparison, Meta is up just 7.4% year-to-date versus 2022. Because TikTok has invested heavily in becoming a shopping platform, we expect to see a larger jump in TikTok CPMs during the upcoming 2023 holiday season (see “How To Win Q4,” below).

But overall growth across platforms is slowing in 2023. When we look at prior-12-month growth as of August 31, 2023, YouTube and TikTok are showing growth at less than half the rate of the same period measured one year earlier. September 2021-August 2022 growth for TikTok was up a whopping 66%, compared with just 14% for September 2022-August 2023. Likewise, YouTube was up 45% for September 2021-August 2022, versus just 13% in September 2022-August 2023. And Meta was up 3.6% between September 2021-August 2022, but just 1.9% in the period from September 2022-August 2023.

The biggest decline in CPM growth has come from X (formerly Twitter), which has seen its advertising rates spiral since the company was acquired by Elon Musk in October, 2022. Twitter/X CPM rates plunged 78% from 2022 to 2023, dropping to as low as $0.32 in August 2023. 

 

Chart: Percentage change in CPM rates, 2022-2023.Chart: Percentage change in CPM rates, 2022-2023. Source: Gupta Social Media CPM Tracker, 2023.

The week of Musk’s acquisition of Twitter/X, its average CPM was $6.74. The next week, average CPM fell 43% to $3.83—and then kept sinking. The New York Times reported that Twitter’s ad revenue in April 2023 was down 59% year-over-year, but our numbers show that CPM has declined significantly since then. 

Musk’s hiring of former NBCUniversal Global Advertising Chief Linda Yaccarino as Twitter/X’s new CEO failed to stop the bleeding: CPMs, which had been hovering around $2.00, were down to $1.01 less than a month after her arrival in June, 2023. 

Interestingly, we did not see an immediate impact on Twitter/X CPMs when Meta launched its competing service, Threads, on July 5, 2023. In fact, the week after Threads’ launch, Twitter CPMs briefly rose 73% to $1.61—before continuing on a decline to the bottom. 

To further understand year-over-year growth patterns across platforms, we created the charts below, which show 2023 CPM rate performance compared to seasonal fluctuations in 2022 and 2021. 

Chart: Meta, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, Average CPM by month, 2021-2023.Charts: Meta, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, Average CPM by month, 2021-2023. Source: Gupta Social Media CPM Tracker, 2023. 

How much do social media ads cost during Q4 holidays like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the new Q5?

While CPM rates vary throughout the year, the biggest seasonal swings—both up and down—tend to occur in relation to Q4. The holiday season—encompassing major events like Hanukkah, Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years, and other cultural celebrations—is a period of increased consumer spending and heightened advertising demand. During this time, CPM rates tend to rise as advertisers compete for limited ad inventory. Businesses aim to capture the attention of consumers who are actively engaged in shopping and holiday-related activities. As a result, the competition for ad impressions escalates, leading to higher CPM rates.

Most marketers know that CPM rates skyrocket for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as well as during the December holidays, and then quickly fall in early January. The details of those trends vary by platform, but savvy advertisers understand that Q4 has its own shape and characteristics, distinct from the rest of the year. In just the past year or two, platforms like Meta and TikTok have begun to introduce an additional concept, which is being called “Q5”—a so-called “fifth quarter” to the year— to describe an opportunity for marketers that exists either just after the holiday season, or during a lull in the action between Cyber Monday and the December holiday rush. 

Understanding exactly when those rates tend to go up, and by how much, is key to planning an effective advertising campaign around the most popular online shopping days of the year. We looked at data going back to 2021 to understand, in granular detail, when CPM rates tend to rise on each platform. And, since Meta and TikTok each describe “Q5” differently, we looked at CPM trends to discover if there’s an opportunity for advertisers to unlock value before, during, and after the expensive Q4 consumer rush. 

How much do Facebook and Instagram ads cost on Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

Black Friday (November 25, 2022) was the single most expensive day of the year for ad rates on Meta, with a CPM of $11.16. Cyber Monday (November 28, 2022) was the second most expensive day of the year for ad rates on Meta, with a CPM of $10.58. 

The week including Black Friday — ISO Week 47 — was the most expensive week of the year, with an average CPM of $9.75. 

For Facebook and Instagram CPMs, the difference between the week of Black Friday and the rest of the holiday season is striking. The week before and the week after saw CPMs approximately 15% cheaper than Black Friday week. 

Notably, although Meta’s annualized average ad rates increased, the ad rates for Black Friday declined slightly year over year: In 2021, Meta’s average Black Friday CPM was $11.56 and the Cyber Monday average CPM was $11.91. 

How much do TikTok ads cost on Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

TikTok’s average CPM on Black Friday (November 25, 2022) was $3.80 — 20% more than average, but well below the platform’s holiday peak. TikTok’s average CPM on Cyber Monday (November 28, 2022) was higher, at $4.49.

In recent years, Meta CPMs dropped after Cyber Monday, but the reverse was true on TikTok. The most expensive day of the year on TikTok came two days after Cyber Monday—on November 30, 2022, with an average CPM of $5.89. While Meta CPMs tended to fall the first week of December, on TikTok, CPMs stayed elevated throughout the month.     

How to win Q4: Unlocking efficiency in advertising spend during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the December Holiday season.

Social media advertising rates experience heightened volatility throughout Q4, with CPMs spiking dramatically during the weekend of Black Friday, and again in mid-December. 

In these two charts, you can see how dramatically CPM rates rise at the end of the year and fall in the beginning of the year:Charts: Monthly Meta (Facebook and Instagram) and TikTok CPM rates vs. Yearly Average, 2022Charts: Monthly Meta (Facebook and Instagram) and TikTok CPM rates vs. Yearly Average, 2022. Source: Gupta Social Media CPM Tracker, 2023.

AOV, CPA, and Conversion Gains: How can advertisers battle heightened CPMs in Q4?

When investing in paid social media advertising on Black Friday, marketers have two strikes against them. First, increased ad costs: CPM rates are likely the highest they’ll be all year. And second, because products are often discounted to compete with other sales, there’s also a potential for a decline in margins and/or average order value (AOV). 

So in order for increased CPMs to be worth the spend, advertisers need two things to happen. To keep their cost per acquisition (CPA) on track, they need their conversion rates to improve. And they also need a strategy in place to encourage consumers to purchase more in order to deliver on revenue targets. 

Are TikTok Ads Cheaper During Q4?

While TikTok CPMs have consistently been on the rise, the platform is still in its infancy relative to its competitors. Year-to-date, TikTok ads are 53% more efficient than Meta ads. 

But will that number hold up during the hyper-competitive Q4 holiday season? We believe it will: Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, 2022, TikTok ads were 49% cheaper, on average, than Meta ads. Average CPMs on Meta and TikTok, November-December 2022
Chart: Meta (blue) vs TikTok (gold) between November 1, 2022 and January 1, 2023. Source: Gupta Social Media CPM Tracker 2023.

Just because TikTok ads are cheaper doesn’t mean they’re more effective. More sophisticated platforms like Meta and Google still reign during the holidays when it comes to harnessing a powerful algorithm designed to reach the users most likely to make it across the purchasing finish line. 

But TikTok’s efficient CPMs present an opportunity for smart advertisers: With a combination of the right audience, the right conversion rate, and the right creative—typically native to the platform, and user-generated—there’s an opportunity to save big with a heightened share of spend on TikTok compared to Meta. 

Risks for Advertising on TikTok During Q4 

TikTok has invested heavily over the past year on becoming a shopping platform, launching its highly-touted TikTok Shop, introducing Video Shopping Ads, and unveiling a “High Spending Power” targeting option, just to name a few. Given this strong point of emphasis, we expect to see a larger jump in TikTok CPM during the upcoming 2023 holiday season, as advertisers get more comfortable driving sales from the platform than they were in 2022. 

That’s consistent with trends we saw last year. Buyers of TikTok and Meta ads pay a premium during the Q4 holiday season when ad rates rise. We calculate that difference by comparing the CPMs in Q4 to CPMs in Q1 through Q3. What we saw in 2022 was that TikTok’s Q4 premium was 22%, as compared with earlier in the year. On Meta, that premium is only 13%. 

Tips for Advertising on TikTok During Q4

In short: Start now, because optimizing TikTok campaigns takes time.

One of the biggest limitations of a conversion-optimized TikTok campaign is that the platform’s pixel can only learn from attributed events. There’s a bit of a paradox here: It means your campaign needs to drive conversions . . . before the pixel can learn how to drive conversions.

How does that impact your Q4 campaigns? If you’re planning to place a big bet on TikTok around the holiday season to reach users more cheaply than Meta, you’ll need to start training the pixel now. This way, the pixel will have enough attributed events to execute a fully conversion-optimized approach when it matters — i.e., when CPMs are at their most efficient. 

What is Q5, and what does it mean for the cost of social media ads?

Recently, both TikTok and Meta have introduced the concept of Q5—a so-called “fifth quarter” of the year—to encourage advertisers to continue spending after the gold rush. The trend they’re describing is real: Our data shows that as the holiday season wanes and advertisers pull out of the marketplace, CPM rates plummet — leaving low-cost inventory for the taking.

But is that inventory effective? What—or more specifically when —is the right way to define a Q5/Fifth Quarter opportunity?

Does Q5 exist? And if so, when? 

Meta and TikTok each define Q5/Fifth Quarter differently — with different guidance to advertisers. Meta defines Q5 as running from December 18 through January 31. TikTok’s scope was more limited: In 2022, it offered Q5 incentives between December 26 and January 8. So what’s actually happening? Is this just a marketing gimmick to help move excess ad inventory, or is there value to be had?

In 2022, Meta’s most expensive week of the year fell adjacent to Black Friday—ISO Week 47—with an average CPM of $9.75. CPMs stayed elevated in weeks 48, 49, and 50—i.e., early December—hovering between $8.28 and $8.49. The big drop hit in Week 51, when CPM dropped to $7.06. 

We observed similar trends in 2021—meaning that Meta is correct in finding that each year, CPM begins to dip in ISO Week 51, around December 18. This is the week that advertisers may want to examine for holiday value. Compared with ISO Weeks 47-50, in 2022, CPMs in Week 51 were 20% cheaper. 

(Of course, the “dip” is relative only to seasonally-elevated rates: CPMs in mid-December are still elevated compared to the rest of the year. Specifically, CPMs in Week 51 are 8% higher than the Q1-Q3 average, and less than 1% cheaper than the average for Q4.) 

When would Q5 end? Meta’s guidance is through the end of January. But when we examine Meta’s CPM data, we end up with an end date for Q5 that looks more like TikTok’s—i.e., more efficient CPMs continuing through early January. 

Oddly, though, TikTok’s definition of Q5 holds up much better on Facebook and Instagram than it does on TikTok itself. That’s in part because, while TikTok is cheaper than Meta overall, the shape of TikTok’s CPM rates during the holiday is much different than Meta’s.

The biggest difference is Black Friday: On Meta, it’s the most expensive day of the year. In 2022, however, Meta CPMs dipped during the first week of December—after the Black Friday rush but before the urgency of shipping deadlines kicked in. We expect the same trend to occur this year. 

On TikTok, Black Friday is merely the launch-pad for CPM rates that get higher and stay elevated throughout December—all the way through ISO Week 52, not dipping until the first week of the new year. (At which point, for the past three years, TikTok CPMs remained low through the first four weeks of the year.) 

That said, we believe there’s an argument to be made that—on both TikTok and Meta—there’s an under-leveraged opportunity for advertising value in the shallow CPM valley between mid-December and early January. For these purposes, we’d define the Q5/Fifth Quarter opportunity as occurring between December 18 and January 8

Should marketers shift their advertising spend from Black Friday to Q5?

As with any marketing decision, the answer is: It depends.

Smart advertisers will look at a brand’s historic conversion rate and average order value (AOV), then model out the timeline that delivers the strongest return on ad spend (ROAS), based on the expected CPM. For some advertisers, there will be a use-case for leveraging the Q5 dip in CPM. 

How can you tell if Q5 works for your brand?

CPM trends don’t live in a vacuum—ad-rate cost needs to be part of a larger discussion that also considers conversion rate and AOV. 

Remember that Q5 CPMs are lower relative only to the most expensive days of the year: Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Brands are tolerant of elevated CPMs in Q5 because we anticipate conversion rates to rise in tandem with ad costs. You may be paying more to reach users, but those users are more likely to convert. So brands are ultimately betting the increased CPM will pay off with a strong ROAS.

That leaves the question: How much does the conversion rate rise? And are there also spikes in conversion rate throughout November and December? For many advertisers, the answer is yes. But you also need to understand the shape of your conversion rate increases.

Let’s say conversion rate remains steady from December 15 through the end of January. In that situation, ad spend is less efficient in the 10 days leading up to Christmas—because it could instead be reserved for early January, when the cost of media buying drops drastically. 

The other consideration, of course, is volume: Brands spend more during the holiday rush because they know more consumers are looking to purchase on a deadline. So while you might not shift all of your budget into Q5, the smartest performance marketers will begin to look at allocating a percentage of their holiday spend into a more efficient time frame. And brands that ordinarily would consider holiday CPMs too rich for their taste might begin to experiment with Q5 to test whether elevated conversion rates can make up for the higher price of advertising.