The Rise of Stories: Authentic Content for Consumers, Low CPMs for Advertisers

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Stories has been one of the fastest-growing formats in the history of social media, allowing users to upload a series of photos and videos that will disappear after 24 hours. The originator of the Stories format, Snapchat, has over 186 million daily active users – and that’s just the beginning. Facebook reports over 300 million daily active users for Facebook and Messenger Stories, over 400 million for Instagram Stories (40% of the total user base), and over 450 million for WhatsApp Status (30% of the total user base). Even Google and LinkedIn are expanding into the Stories format, which consumers gravitate toward for authentic, mobile-friendly content.

62% of consumers become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in Stories, and our data shows that high consumer interest, paired with consistently low CPMs (costs per thousand) vs. other formats, makes Stories an increasingly attractive format for advertisers.

Stories Shift on Facebook and Instagram

Over the past 2 years, Adaptly data shows that Stories has grown to almost 10% of overall spend on the Facebook platform. It’s a favorable advertiser investment for many reasons, including the much lower costs available in Stories vs. the news feed. Our data showed that Stories CPMs were 34% cheaper on average, with news feed costs increasing nearly 7x more than Stories costs from 2017 to 2018.

Ad Placement Spend Distribution
on Facebook & Instagram

As Facebook shifted the news feed this year to prioritize content from users’ friends and families, there was less space available for brands and advertisers. That meant rising CPMs, which gave advertisers an opportunity on the lower-cost Stories platform, where impressions and active user numbers were rising. The average Instagram Story completion rate for brands is also promising at 72% – even higher than the rates for entertainment and media properties.

Facebook & Instagram Ad Placement Costs – YoY Change

The Advertising Impact on Snapchat

Our data shows that Snap Ads activity has trended upward through 2018, with CPMs decreasing 15% compared to the same six-month period a year ago. Advertisers are taking advantage of efficient costs to prioritize the Stories-formatted Snap Ads, which made up the majority of Snapchat advertiser investment over the past two years. As brands began incorporating Snapchat’s Lens products into their advertising mix this year, we saw a small decline in Snap Ad spend for September and October 2018.

Ad Product Spend Distribution on Snapchat

Timing also plays an important role in Snap Ads usage, with impressions activity spiking during summer and holiday weeks over the past two years. This suggests that brands turn to Snap Ads for campaigns centered around events or seasonal activities.

How to Leverage Stories Across Platforms

Stories and vertical video formats offer a more tailored, interactive, and immersive experience than standard feed ads, especially on mobile (which accounts for 39% of global social users). As the format continues to grow, here are some creative best practices you can consider when launching campaigns:

1. Use Sound to Build Awareness

60% of Instagram Stories ads are viewed with sound on, so purposeful sound design is the key to giving your viewers a superior brand experience on Stories.

When Adaptly worked with an advertiser to transform TV creative into mobile-friendly vertical video, we focused on building brand awareness through audio. Sound-on video views were key for this campaign, and vertical video viewers turned sound on 11x more than viewers of horizontal creative. Especially for mobile and Stories formats, an engaging, sound-on experience is necessary.

2. Drive Users to Action With Swipes

Leverage swipe elements to encourage interaction with the Stories format, giving users a clear action to take after viewing your ad. Incorporating swipe functions into videos will help you better track conversions and better understand the impact of your advertisements.

On Snapchat you can include swipe functions to drive a user to your website, app, video, Lens, or app store page, or you can showcase a series of products with Collection Ads.

3. Think Stories-First When Creating Content

The best content for Stories is going to be unique; not adapted from other platforms. Ads should be in vertical video format, 15 seconds or less, with Stories visual elements (text, gifs, multiple pieces of content for users to tap through) to help the content feel native and authentic to the platform.

Consumers view videos in short increments and will complete the content only 2% of the time on average, so messaging should be front-loaded in the first 2-3 seconds of the video. Use value messaging that integrates your benefits, savings, or products directly into the content.

See More Best Practices for Advertising on:
Facebook & Instagram Stories, Snapchat’s Snap Ads