6 min. read
So, how much do ads cost on social media in 2018?
If you work with social or digital marketing, you’ve probably wondered if you’re paying the right amount for each click or impression.
So have we. That’s why we’ve decided to pull data from 15 different sources to find out what the average cost of ads is on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
We’ll break down benchmarks for what a typical advertiser should expect to pay per click and per 1,000 impressions on each of the major social networks this year.
While this info should help give you a ballpark estimate of what a reasonable bid might look like, you should make sure to keep it in context.
After all, since ad sales on each of these social platforms are based on auctions and targeting options, there are a ton of factors that determine exactly what an ad will cost you.
To give you a sense, here are a few of the variables that can raise or lower the price of your ads on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn:
- What season it is
- What day of the week it is
- What time of day it is
- How many users you’re targeting
- What locations you’re targeting
- What demographics you’re targeting
- How relevant your ad is to your target audience
- Overall quality of your ad
- What industry you’re in
So for example, if you work in finance, you can expect to pay a higher cost per click on Facebook than if you’re selling clothes:
In social media marketing, your cost per click depends on many factors—including what industry you’re in. Source: Wordstream
…but that’s also likely because of the value of a click is higher to brands advertising loans than to brands selling T-shirts.
At the end of the day, what matters is that you’re seeing positive ROI from your ad campaigns. Still, it never hurts to get an idea of what other marketers are paying.
Before we jump into our handy graphs though, we want to be clear about how ad costs are defined on each social network.
What are CPC and CPM on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn?
Facebook CPC and CPM
On Facebook, most ad costs are measured in cost per click (CPC) or cost per thousand impressions (CPM).
With ad campaign objectives like Traffic, you would typically pay per click, while for objectives like Brand Awareness you would pay per thousand impressions.
For more details, check out our in-depth guide to Facebook ad costs.
Instagram CPC and CPM
Because Instagram advertising is done through Facebook Business Manager, ad costs on Instagram are calculated pretty much the same way as they are for Facebook.
Depending on your objective, you’ll either pay on a CPC or a CPM basis.
LinkedIn CPC and CPM
LinkedIn calculates CPC and CPM its own way. Impressions on LinkedIn are counted when an ad is “visible for at least 300 milliseconds with at least 50% in view on a member’s device screen or browser window.”
Meanwhile, if you’re paying on a CPC basis, LinkedIn will charge for clicks on your ad content, your company name, or your company logo.
Twitter CPC and CPM
Twitter is not quite as public about how it counts impressions for CPM bids, but according to Twitter Business, “an impression is any time your ad is shown to users,” implying a fairly broad definition.
Cost per click on Twitter refers specifically to link clicks, so you know that each click you’re paying for took a user to your desired URL.
Each social network counts clicks and impressions a little bit differently, which can affect how CPC and CPM are calculated. These differences likely explain some of the differences in average CPC and CPM across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
For example, if Twitter counts any part of your ad being on screen as an impression while LinkedIn requires at least 50% of it to be visible, it makes sense for LinkedIn to charge a little more per thousand impressions.
After all, they’re selling more strictly-defined impressions with more value for brand awareness on average.
Keep these variations in mind when viewing the graphs below—higher average ad costs don’t necessarily mean lower ROI.
What is the average CPC on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn?
As you can see, Facebook actually has the lowest median cost per click of all four social networks at $0.51, with Twitter following close behind at $0.53.
Each click on Instagram is more than double the price of a click on Facebook or Twitter at $1.28, which likely reflects the high value of and major competition for clicks on Instagram.
At $5.61, LinkedIn actually has a much higher CPC than any of the other three networks. However, this doesn’t mean that LinkedIn’s ads are overpriced.
Rather, it shows how highly clicks are valued on such a B2B-friendly platform with a highly educated, professional user base.
What is the average CPM on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn?
Interestingly, the median cost per thousand impressions on each social network has little relation to its median cost per click.
Impressions on Twitter are cheaper on average than the other 3 platforms at $5.76—though that might be related to their less restrictive definition of what counts as an impression.
LinkedIn and Instagram are not too far from Twitter’s median CPM, at $6.05 and $6.70 respectively.
Now, you may be surprised to see that Facebook has the highest CPM of these four major social networks in 2018—but it wasn’t always this way. Facebook’s ad costs have been increasing significantly since 2017 as their ad space has become more limited.
How to reduce ad costs on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn: 4 quick tips
Now that you have a sense of what a typical advertiser with a broad audience pays for clicks and impressions on each social network, you’re probably wondering about something else: how can you get away with paying less?
Facebook: cap your bids. Facebook has no idea what a click or an impression is worth to your brand—that evaluation is up to you, so don’t bid so high that you’re getting negative ROI. Try lowering your maximum CPC or CPM bid and Facebook will attempt to find cheaper clicks and impressions for you so it can keep delivering your ad.
Instagram: set a lifetime budget instead of a daily budget for your ad campaign. This will let Instagram’s ad engine find the cheapest times and days to show your ads, lowering your CPC/CPM.
Twitter: set a manual bid. If you choose automatic bidding, Twitter will definitely help you win ad auctions, but potentially at a higher price than you’d like to pay. Try starting with a low maximum bid like $0.50 per click, then raise it gradually if your ads aren’t being delivered (though this figure will vary depending on who you are and what you’re advertising).
LinkedIn: use Matched Audiences. This feature lets you target users who are in your contact lists, have visited your website, or work for a specific company. Targeting with Matched Audiences raises CTR 30 to 40% on average compared to standard targeting (and thus makes your ads more cost-efficient).
There you have it: how much ads cost on each of the 4 top social networks and how to get those costs lower.
Again, average ad costs on social media depend a lot on the specifics of your ad campaign and your business, so don’t give up on your ad campaign if you have a higher CPM or CPC than what we’ve listed here.
After all, you may be getting more value from a click or an impression than other advertisers, justifying a higher ad spend.
On the flip side, don’t get too cocky if you’re paying less per click or thousand impressions on average, as there are a lot of reasons this could be.
For example, it could mean that you’re targeting a very general audience and the clicks you’re getting aren’t likely to convert.
However, what this data should do is give you a helpful reference point. Paying $10 for 1,000 impressions on Facebook wouldn’t be extreme, but paying $100 definitely would be.
So keep these figures in mind to keep your ad spend in the right ballpark—and your budget will thank you for it.
Sources: Marketing Land, Neil Patel, eMarketer, Thrive Hive, AdStage, Kissmetrics, Strike Social, Influencer Marketing Hub, Fit Small Business, WordStream, BigCommerce, AdEspresso, Quora, Reddit, Schneems