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Social Media Ads Cost Breakdown: Facebook Instagram, TikTok and Pinterest

Angie Tran

Content Marketing Manager @ AdRoll

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “Money often costs too much” — and as marketers, you probably agree. Though we all want to create jaw-dropping ads destined to go viral, the truth is few of us have budgets large enough to make our Super Bowl ad dreams come true.

There is an upside, though: Digital advertising is pretty affordable for growing brands, especially if you know how to stretch your limited resources. But if you’re wondering whether Facebook or Instagram will give you a bigger bang for your buck, or how much it costs to launch a TikTok campaign, this one’s for you.

Advertising costs will ultimately depend on the competitiveness of your keywords, industry, and target audience, but we’re here to answer some of your questions with a general comparison of how much ads cost across platforms. 

Facebook

Facebook ads are a pillar of most ecommerce brands’ marketing strategies, so it’s no surprise that this platform is also one of the most competitive. 

How Facebook calculates ad quality 

Similar to other platforms, Facebook determines ad costs via an auction. The algorithm relies on factors such as ad quality and estimated engagement to select which advertiser has the winning bid. 

Most platforms use two metrics to calculate costs: cost per click (CPC) and cost per mille (CPM) — the latter referring to the cost per 1,000 impressions. 

Though there are numerous variables that may impact your Facebook ad cost, research suggests brands can expect approximately $0.94 per click and $12.07 per thousand impressions. If you’re using lead ads, the average cost per lead is $5.83 — if this number seems impossibly high, remember: If you nail your audience targeting, your cost may drop dramatically. 

Pro tip: Facebook ad costs can fluctuate throughout the year — during extra-competitive time periods, such as Black Friday, CPCs can double or even triple. 

Instagram

While Instagram falls under the Meta (Facebook) umbrella, the costs are noticeably different. 

In 2021, Instagram ads cost around $0.40-$0.70 per engagement (including clicks, comments, and likes). For ads with a destination URL, Instagram’s CPC hovered around $0.50-$0.95. Meanwhile, the cost per thousand impressions ranged between $2.50-$3.50

For the best engagement rates, check out Instagram. 

Instagram is known for its high engagement rates for both organic and paid content, which is why ads on the platform are cheaper than Facebook. In fact, one study estimated images on Instagram see 23% more engagement than when shared on Facebook. 

TikTok

TikTok may be the new kid on the block — the platform launched its formal advertising program in 2021 — but how do its costs compare to others? 

Similar to other ad platforms, you can select either a daily or lifetime budget when you advertise on TikTok — however, the platform has minimum budget requirements to ensure your ad is delivered continuously:

  • Campaign level minimum budget: Both daily and total budgets must be at least $50.

  • Ad group level minimum budget: Daily budgets must exceed $20, and lifetime budgets are calculated according to the minimum daily budget multiplied by the length of your campaign. 

Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much available data on TikTok’s average ad costs across industries. InfluencerMarketingHub estimated TikTok ads cost around $10 per CPM, while Digiday has reported that it’s more like $1 per CPM. Meanwhile, another digital media consultancy ran an experiment and found TikTok’s CPC was around $0.19. 

As more brands run TikTok ads, there will be a clearer consensus on how much the platform costs.

Pinterest

Pinterest, a must-have platform for visual brands, offers relatively affordable ad pricing, regardless of your campaign goal:

  • For boosting online engagement, you can expect to pay $0.10-$1.50 per click

  • For building brand awareness, you can expect to pay $2-$5 per CPM

  • For driving site traffic, you can expect to pay $0.10-$1.50 per click

However, like the others on this list, Pinterest uses a bidding model for ad placements — the more competitive your industry, keywords, and target audience, the more you can expect to pay. 

For more on Pinterest ads, check out this guide

Make the Most Out of Your Ad Budget

Nobody wants to pay more than they need to. If you tweak your campaign right, you may benefit from reduced advertising costs while still experiencing a high return on investment (ROI). Here’s how:

  • Make sure to choose the right campaign objective. 

  • The narrower your target audience, the better results you will gain. 

  • Use retargeting campaigns to focus on brand-aware shoppers or existing customers. 

  • A/B test your ad creative, placements, formats, and platforms. 

  • Think outside the box when it comes to ad creative. 

  • Make your landing page as seamless and relevant to your ad as possible. 

  • Use an all-in-one marketing platform (like AdRoll) to deliver an omnichannel marketing experience to shoppers via multiple touchpoints — this will provide you with more data to help you optimize your campaigns. 

With the right tools and tactics, there’s no need to tighten those purse strings. Download the AdRoll app for Shopify and Shopify merchants to get higher ROIs without worrying about your budget.

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