86% of UK consumers engage with ads on social media

uk consumers and social media use

A staggering 86% of UK consumers now engage with ads on social media networks.

That’s according to a new report from Integral Ad Science, which also found that 53% of consumers spend two to four hours a day on the world’s leading social platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and TikTok.

The report Social Media Ad Receptivity is based on a survey of online UK consumers and provides an overview of social media usage, as well as insights into user perceptions of social media advertising.

Social media use on the rise

Social media has become a significant channel for advertisers to reach online consumers in the UK, with ad spend projected to hit £8.95bn by 2023.

While the study revealed that the majority (53%) of UK consumers spend two to four hours a day on social platforms, it noted that a further one in four spend more than five hours a day scrolling, watching, and clicking through their social feeds.

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Ads on social set to grow.

The most popular social platforms include Facebook, followed by YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. 

Consumers engage on mobile devices most often, with 76% claiming that it is the most common device for them to view social media content, followed by desktop (14%) and tablet (10%). 

UK consumers engaged more with social ads since the pandemic

Social consumption has increased since the pandemic and in line with global stay-at-home orders. 

The study found that 15% of Brits have increased engagement with in-feed social ads to shop online since the Covid-19 pandemic started.

Almost nine in 10 UK consumers (86%) engaged with – clicked on, for example – an ad on social media in 2021. 

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Most UK consumers now engage with ads on social.

In fact, almost half of consumers (40%) say that they’re more likely to engage with in-feed ads than with those on online web pages.

Consumers are not only willing to engage with brands on social environments, but one in five (19%) purchased a product or service advertised in between their social news feed.

When asked about the format of ads, more consumers prefer viewing display ads (45%), rather than video ads (26%). 

Comparatively, 35% want to see ads from specific brand accounts on their social feeds, and only 21% prefer to see ads from online influencers.

The risks and rewards of social media advertising

Despite this, IAS research also points to some significant risks for brands, especially when it comes to social media ads that appear next to unsafe content – content that conflicts with a brand’s values and puts its reputation at risk.

Moreover, 36% of online UK consumers argue that the growth of fake news has made them less trusting of ads on social feeds.

For ads that run next to unsafe content, 67% of consumers hold the social platform accountable, but a significant 31% hold the brand accountable.

Other key risk statistics from the survey include:

  • 35% have an unfavourable view of a brand whose ad appears next to content that does not align with the brand’s image
  • 55% are unlikely to purchase a product or service advertised on social media feeds that is next to unsafe content

Nevertheless, brands have opportunities for huge rewards through social media advertising by using technology to control the context beside which their ads appear:

  • 47% feel favourable towards brands whose in-feed social ads appear next to content that aligns with a brand’s image
  • 46% are likely to purchase a product or service advertised on their social feed if it is related to the content being viewed
  • 53% are likely to remember an in-feed ad if its message relates to the adjacent social content

Paul Nasse, Regional Vice President, Agency Partnerships, EMEA at Integral Ad Science, said: “It’s clear that social media consumption by consumers and ad spend by brands is at an all-time high and shows no signs of slowing down. 

“Hyper-growth social platforms are a beacon for eyes and engagement, and a potentially lucrative source of revenue for marketers who invest their ad dollars wisely.

“The research demonstrates that marketers need to take into account the context of their social media ads and where they appear to maximise their investment. 

“This responsibility lies with the entire advertising ecosystem to deliver ads that are engaging for a better online consumer experience.”