Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Short-form video ad spend surges in Q3 as Meta takes on TikTok

Short-form video ad spend surged in Q3, with Cost Per Thousand (CPM) increasing and the conversion gap with static ads shrinking. These were some of key findings of the latest Nest Index report, based on global Meta data from 40+ ecommerce brands, 79% prospecting campaigns, generating a total of 984m impressions across the quarter.

Produced by paid social performance and creative agency Nest Commerce, the report reveals that conversion rates for video ads were only 9% lower than static ads in Q3, compared to a 33% difference in Q2. As the popularity of short-form video continues to boom, brands are unlocking the format to deliver better results.

Reels spending soars but with lower engagement so far

The format witnessing the largest growth was Reels as Meta takes on TikTok. Spend increased by an astonishing 750% between Q2 and Q3, while CPM increased by 31%. Meta continue to push impressions to this channel and auction competition is intensifying. 

Reels ads remain cheaper than non-Reels – however, the two year old format is proving more difficult to drive engagement through. Click-through rates (CTR) are significantly higher across other placements, with average CTR being 387% lower for Reels and Cost per Click (CPC) 71% higher.

‘Quality’ messaging delivers highest ROAS

The report also reveals the type of messaging delivering results in the current climate. ‘Quality’ messaging delivered the highest Return On Ad Spend (ROAS) and Average Order Value (AOV) in Q3. There was a 65% uplift for ‘quality’ versus other messaging. It highlights that in the current landscape, consumers are willing to spend more for purchases that last. 

Meanwhile, as we approach Black Friday, ‘Sale’ messaging also delivered much higher ROAS. ‘Sustainability’ messaging remains important, delivering the highest conversion rates with eco-friendly brands seeing positive results.

Brands back broad audiences and discovery commerce 

More than a year since iOS 14, the report also highlights the success of strategies for reaching audiences in a more privacy-focused landscape. Investment in demo-based audiences has grown significantly, with spend increasing 56% YoY and 16% QoQ. 

The result of this is better engagement and higher efficiency, with a 72% and 125% lower CPC compared to ‘interest’ and ‘lookalike’ audiences respectively. These were mainstays of the third party tracking era.

Meanwhile discovery commerce continues to deliver results. Catalog ads are now the most effective strategy in driving engagement and conversion. Dynamic ads for broad audiences and dynamic product ads drive much more efficient performance than average, with a 44% higher CTR and 9% higher Conversion Rates (CVR) than standard ads.

According to Nest Commerce CEO Will Ashton:
“Driven by TikTok’s huge impact, Meta continues to invest in short form video and brands are developing more sophisticated strategies. As audience behaviour changes, we are now seeing conversion rates on Facebook and Instagram approaching parity with static ads. While engagement rates on Reels are lower than other formats, Meta is investing heavily in the format, so this is likely to improve over time.”

He continues: “In a privacy-first environment, creative remains the best tool advertisers have for optimising performance. Investments in ad spend efficiency here will quickly pay off in higher return on investment. As we approach peak season, brands should test different creatives to stand out from the pack, with a focus on quality messaging in a tougher economic climate.”