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Understanding Facebook Ads Cost – 2018 (& 2019) Benchmarks!

One of the most burning questions any advertiser asks themselves is: “How much should I be paying for my Facebook Ads?”

As you’ll soon see, the only true answer is “It depends.”

The truth of the matter is that your costs will vary depending on the month, day, hour, and location (and those are just a fraction of the variables at play).

As an advertising platform, Hootsuite Ads has managed over $636 million in ad spend. In this article, we’ll use this information to provide you Facebook Ad cost averages for 2018 across all four quarters.

We’ll also include a special insight into Q1 2019 statistics, to give you a leg up on the competition!

And yes, you will NOT FIND these Facebook Ads Cost benchmarks anywhere else!

Before you read any further, keep in mind that this article will not tell you exactly how much your specific campaign is going to cost, but it will give you some benchmarks to set your own KPIs.

We also have our 2017 data available at the bottom of this post for additional reference benchmarks.

In this 2018 edition of our Facebook ads cost, we’ll cover:

  1. CPC Costs & Results

  2. Cost Per Like for Page Like Campaigns

  3. Cost per App Install

For all of these, we’ll cover differences based on the month, day of the week, and hour of the day.

We’ll also explain the top factors involved in the cost of advertising with Facebook and the steps you can take to reduce them.

How Does the Bidding Process Work on Facebook?

Before we go into costs, it’s important that we take a second to talk about the bidding process.

Because advertising on Facebook is more like an auction house than a guaranteed bet, there will always be a change in your cost that you cannot control. However, you can set the odds in your favor by using smart bidding strategies.

When you create a campaign, you can adjust your bid on the pricing and bidding section. If you don’t, Facebook will automatically calculate a bid for you based on your budget and how long you choose to have your ad run.

As we mentioned before, it’s important to remember that this is an auction and you are bidding against every other advertiser on the platform. This means that at any given time you have hundreds upon hundreds of other advertisers all going for the eyes of Facebook users.

Ensuring you have a good bidding strategy in place will allow you to remain competitive, and give your ads a better shot at delivery.

There’s a large number of factors that can affect how much your Facebook Ads cost, and bids are only one of them.

These factors can include:

  • The timing.

The month of the year, the day of the week, and even the specific hour of the day can affect ad costs. There are peak times and when the competition is highest, the costs go up.

  • Your bidding strategy.

Whether you select the lowest cost or choose a specific bid cap can ultimately determine your ad delivery and cost.

  • The placement you choose.

Different ad placements will have different costs – the more competition a certain placement has, the higher the cost.

  • Relevance metrics.

Facebook has 3 separate metrics to determine the quality of your ad – Engagement Ranking, Quality Ranking, and Conversion Ranking. Having a low score in any of these areas will increase your costs.

  • The audience you’re targeting.

If other advertisers are trying to reach the same audience members, costs go up as newsfeed space is not unlimited.

At the end of this post, we’ll link some resources to help you decrease your Facebook ads costs by addressing some of the issues we mentioned above

Facebook Ads Cost: Hootsuite Ads 2018 and 2019 Q1 Benchmarks

Now that we’ve got a clear idea of how the bidding system works and what factors currently are most heavily affecting the cost of our Facebook Ads, let’s take a look at the data.

This data was pulled from all Hootsuite Ads users from all quarters of 2018 and the first quarter of 2019, we converted all currencies to US$.

While all the statistics in this post are coming from real campaigns, you should be using these numbers only as a reference or a guideline.

Now, onto the good stuff!

Cost Per Click Results

This data reflects the average Cost per Click for 2018 and Q1 of 2019.

This information is limited to campaigns with website clicks or website conversions as the objective unless otherwise noted. The currency is in US dollars.

Cost Per Click by Campaign Objective – 2018

Facebook Ads CPC 2018

On average the CPC rises throughout the year for impressions, reach and clicks, as the overall volume of ad spend increases towards the holiday season.

However, for performance marketing – leads and clicks – the prices go down as the year progresses.

Cost Per Click by Campaign Objective – 2019 Q1

The CPC for conversions has seen a reduction for four consecutive quarters, dropping from $2.55 in Q1 2018 to $0.55 in 2019. This is great news for anyone doing performance marketing, where your aim is to get leads or purchases instead of brand awareness.

Last year, some advertisers were experimenting with optimizing for link clicks instead of conversions because of the high CPC for conversion campaigns.

With the current low price, it makes sense for a majority of conversion campaigns to be optimized for conversions, with optimizing for traffic only used for remarketing campaigns with small audiences.

Cost Per Click by Month – 2018

In December 2018, CPC peaked at 44 cents, nearly three times the lowest price in 2016. :-o This tells us is that we can no longer rely on cheap clicks and the sheer volume of traffic to achieve our marketing goals.

We also need to consider running lead generation ads to nurture leads with an email sequence, making it cheaper than relying on Facebook ads when it comes to retargeting.

Cost Per Click by Month – 2019 Q1

As expected, the overall cost per click dropped at the beginning of the year after the peak costs incurred by the holiday season.

However, the chart above shows us that the costs are already rising again. This means that we should expect this theme to continue throughout 2019 and beyond as advertisers invest more of their marketing budget on Facebook.

Cost Per Click by Day of the Week – 2018

Although it’s only a weak trend, we can see that the cost per click is slightly cheaper over the weekend.

A likely explanation for this is that people have more time during weekends to browse their social feeds and pay attention to the posts, resulting in users clicking and engaging with more of your content.

Cost Per Click by Day of the Week – 2019 Q1

In 2019 the trend of clicks being cheaper during the weekend continues.

However, with the difference only being less than 5 cents, this shouldn’t be the most important factor in deciding your campaign schedules

Cost Per Click by Hour of the Day – 2018

Daytime is more expensive and the early hours of the morning are the cheapest for clicks.

Be careful with the way you interpret these results though, as the volume of traffic will be smaller overnight.

Unless you have a very small budget, it’s worth paying the daytime premium as the number of users online are far higher.

Cost Per Click by Hour of the Day – 2019 Q1

As we saw in 2018, the overnight CPC lower, but there will be far less volume – which means we cannot rely on nighttime traffic alone to reach our marketing objectives

With mobile device usage on the rise (now accounting for 93% of Facebook ad volume) and some countries like the US having multiple time-zones, we’re seeing more 24-hour connectivity. Using dayparting, even in B2B marketing, is no longer an option.

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Cost Per Like Results

Running a campaign for page likes can be valuable in certain situations; it can you to get more followers quickly, however it can also be a huge resource drain if done inefficiently.

This data shows the findings of all campaigns created with the Page Like objective in 2018 and Q1 of 2019.

Cost Per Like by Month – 2018

The cost per like rises during the year, peaking during the holiday season.

If you want to build your brand for the long term, consider running your page like campaigns just during Q1 when prices are at their lowest, then in Q4 focus on conversion campaigns when it’s time to convert these fans into actual customers.

Cost Per Like by Month – 2019 Q1

By March of this year, the cost per like has already hit the peak level seen during 2018, and chances are it will go even higher as the year progresses – especially during the holiday season.

With organic reach for page followers going down, relying on Page Like campaigns to increase your organic reach is not as cost efficient as it once was

Cost Per Like by Day of the Week – 2018

As we mentioned above, getting page likes is generally a long term play so it’s good to keep the cost as low as possible.

We would advise considering running Page Like campaigns Saturday to Monday when pricing is lower, unless you need a very high volume of page likes.

Cost Per Like by Day of the Week – 2019 Q1

With only 3 cents difference between the cheapest and most expensive day of the week, deciding which day of the week to run Page Like campaigns is not an issue you need to worry yourself with

There will be more significant savings to be made by split testing your ads, or trying a range of different audiences

Cost Per Like by Hour of the Day – 2018

There’s a very strong trend for page likes to cost more during peak daytime hours. As with the CPC pricing, there will be a tradeoff as the early hours of the morning have a far lower number of users online

If you want to build up a fanbase slowly but cheaply, and are only using a low to moderate budget, it would be worth spending a majority of your budget overnight.

Cost Per Like by Hour of the Day – 2019 Q1

As we see in the chart above, not too much has changed in relation to the time of day tips from 2018.

In this case, we still recommend spending the majority of your budget overnight if you want to reduce your costs

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Cost Per App Install

Facebook Ads can be exceptionally effective when you want to increase mobile app installs. This data is limited to campaigns that used the objectives “Mobile App Installs” from 2018 and Q1 2019.

Cost Per App Install by Month – 2018

The Q4 spike is to be expected, as Facebook Ad pricing rises due to the large amounts being spent by retailers. But why do July and August see an increase?

This is just anecdotal, but during the summer people spend more time outdoors or on vacay. So they’re not looking to install games and spend hours playing Candy Crush!

Cost Per App Install by Month – 2019 Q1

Although 2019 started off with cheaper app install prices than in Q4 2018, so far this year the price has been rising month over month.

It’s too early to spot any trends, but definitely keep an eye on your app install costs as there’s a chance it could keep on increasing throughout the year.

Are app install campaigns still going to be sustainable as we get into the 2019 holiday season? We’ll find out soon enough. :)

Cost Per App Install by Hour of the Day- 2018

There’s not a clear hourly trend, but the graph reinforces the conclusion above that app installs cost more in Q3 and Q4

For Apps using a “freemium” model, consider spending more of the yearly budget in the first half of the year, and reduce it during the second half when Facebook ads get more expensive due to getting saturated with eCommerce ads

Cost Per App Install by Hour of the Day- 2019 Q1

Once again, we’re seeing the same results as 2018 for hourly app installs.

We still recommend spending more early on, and reducing your ad spend during the peak costs in Q3 and Q4

Summary of 2018/2019 Data (Overall)

If you’re looking for an abbreviated version of everything we just said, here’s a quick summary of our findings:

  • The CPC for conversion campaigns has decreased four consecutive quarters. Optimizing for conversions with Conversion objective campaigns is recommended
  • Overall, the day of the week has little effect on the cost per click
  • While the nighttime price for CPC is lower, the traffic is much smaller. This means using dayparting is not as effective as it once was
  • The cost per page like has been on an increasing monthly trend from 2018 into 2019 – now more than ever is the time to nail down your page like strategy
  • As with the CPC, the cost per page like has little change by day of the week
  • Although 2019 started off with cheaper app install prices than in Q4 2018, 2019 has seen a monthly increase. Keep an eye on your app install costs as we draw closer to Q4

Want to take a look at our past findings on Facebook Ads cost? Keep on reading to check out our 2017 study


Facebook Ads Cost: Hootsuite Ads 2017 Benchmarks

Cost Per Click by Month – 2017

Facebook Ads cost

We already know that there were a number of factors that drove up ad costs in Q4, and that’s exceptionally easy to see here. The Q4 prices were a sharp turn from the cost trends happening through Q2 and Q3, jumping to around $.50 after hovering closer to $.35 for most of the summer months

Cost Per Click by Day of the Week – 2017

Facebook Ads cost

There were big fluctuations in which day of the lowest CPC throughout 2017. In Q1, Tuesdays held the position for most affordable ad cost, costing around $.34 per click. By Q4, Sunday had the lowest CPC with an average of about $.40, and it was most expensive to advertise on Tuesdays and Thursdays with CPCs close to $.50

Cost Per Click by Hour – 2017

Facebook Ads cost

If you’re considering using dayparting for ads, this information should be of some help. The average CPC’s trends stayed relatively consistent in terms of the most cost efficient times of day for your ads to go live. Ad costs were consistently lower in the early morning hours. While Q2 and Q3 had bigger jumps in cost based on time of the day, Q4 saw that level out more, staying between $.45 and $.50 from 5AM to 11pm at night.

What does this mean? While each business is different, dayparting may not do much to help you save on ad costs.

Cost Per Click by Campaign Objective – 2017

Facebook Ads cost

It’s easy to think that targeting for impressions will have a lower CPC than optimizing for link clicks, but that’s clearly not the case. Optimizing for link clicks actually had the lowest CPC at $.44 by the end of Q4, with conversions ($.66) and lead generation ($1.18) coming in second or third. There is something to keep in mind here; not all link clicks guarantee conversions, and not all lead clicks guarantee an actual submitted lead form with legitimate information. You may be paying for some results here that you aren’t getting, while reach and impressions give you exactly what you’re paying for

The takeaway here: never try to cheat the system by hoping that choosing an objective or reach impression will be more affordable than optimizing for clicks outright.

Cost Per Like for Page Like Campaigns (2017)

Running a campaign for page likes can be valuable; it enables you to get more followers quickly, who will then get plenty of your information in their News Feeds without you having to pay for it.

This data shows the findings of all campaigns created with the objective to gain more page likes in2017. We have limited countries as we set the minimum spend to 50K or more.

Cost Per Like by Month – 2017

Facebook ads cost

The average cost per like by month was just over $.12, with the lower costs in Q1 balancing out the increasing prices in Q3 and Q4, rising up to $.16 in Q4. What’s interesting is cost per likes fell again in December back to the average, likely because Pages were optimizing for other actions from users during this time.

Cost Per Like by Day of the Week – 2017

Facebook ads cost

If you want to get more likes on your Page, Friday is currently your day for lowest costs at around $.12, with Tuesday and Wednesday having the highest cost per like costs at $.15. You’ll notice, though, that there’s variation in which days are least or most expensive for cost per likes throughout each quarter, so trying to schedule your ads for specific days may not do you much good as this continues to fluctuate over time.

Cost Per Like by Hour – 2017

Facebook ads cost

Unlike CPC, cost per likes have significant variation by hour, and huge jumps from quarters 1-3 to Q4. The early morning hours have the lowest cost per click, hovering between $.13 and $.19. Costs then continually rise from 7AM at $.20 to 4PM at $.33. Then ad costs decrease again continually, sinking back to $.20 at 11 PM.

These costs reflect peak activity hours for many users on social media, likely accounting for these pricing trends.

Cost per App Install (2017)

Driving mobile app installs is a great reason to use Facebook Ads. This data is limited to campaigns that used the objectives “mobile app installs” and “canvas app installs” from 2017.

Cost per App install by Day of the Week – 2017

how much do Facebook Ads really cost

If you’ve been stressed about costs per app installs going up in Q4, you can at least take some comfort in seeing that they consistently decreased significantly when looking at costs based on days of the week

Again, notice that there are significant changes happening in lowest costing days and high costing days. By the end of Q4, Wednesdays had gone from the most expensive day of the week with a CPA of around $1.26 to the day with the least expensive CPA at around $.60.

Trying to predict these fluctuations over time would likely be impossible, so don’t worry about scheduling mobile app install ads based on cost.

Cost Per App Instal by Hour of the Day – 2017

how much do Facebook Ads really cost

This is another example showcasing how much things can change in ways you wouldn’t typically expect, with CPAs for mobile app installs based on hour falling from highs in Q2 to significantly lower CPAs in Q3 and Q4.

The time of day with the lowest CPA is 2AM at around $.75, and the time of day with the highest CPA is 11pm at around $1.35.

Summary of 2017 Data (Overall)

For a quick 2017 summary, and to help us all notice a few interesting trends, we found (on average) that:

  • CPCs and CPAs increased dramatically in Quarter 4.
    This isn’t overwhelmingly surprising. We had the holiday season spike hit at the same time as when Facebook started announcing changes in the algorithm and we saw organic reach going down. That being said, this isn’t always a good thing. More costs mean more competition, and there have been problems in the past during high competition times where businesses are unable to get proper delivery of their ads due to the competition levels
  • It costs more, on average, to target older users for likes and mobile app installs.
    This is different than our findings from 2016, and shows a changing trend. It costs more on average to target users over the age of 40 for likes, clicks, and app installs.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve made it to the end of this post, congratulations – you’re now a Facebook cost analyst. :)

As we mentioned before, there are plenty of factors that can affect how much you’ll be paying for Facebook ads, including your audience, relevance scores, and bidding strategies

If you want to decrease your overall Facebook ad costs, we recommend optimizing your target audience, improving your ad relevance metrics, and studying up on the latest bidding strategies for starters!

Use Hootsuite Ads to run Google, Instagram, and Facebook ads alongside each other. From a single dashboard you can create and launch campaigns, optimize performance, and measure results. Try it today.

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This post was originally published on the Adespresso blog: source