Few Consumers Are Buying Directly from Social Ads

The definition and promise of the space are changing

Author: Jennifer King

April 10, 2018

Social platforms can be discovery vehicles, but getting a consumer to click on an ad—and ultimately buy something directly from it—isn't easy. 

While social commerce is evolving, it hasn't taken off. According to a recent survey of US internet users ages 18 and older by Survata for Sprout Social, just 15% of respondents said they were likely to buy directly from a social media ad that caught their attention. Many either click to learn more or simply like the ad. 

That falls in line with previous studies that also revealed consumers aren't flocking to social platforms to purchase something

A December 2017 study from Cowen and Company found that US internet users who discover brands on Instagram are more likely to complete a purchase on a brand's website (40%), Amazon (29%) or the company's physical store (20%) than they are on the social platform where they found the product (19%). When it came to those that discovered brands on Facebook, the results were similar. More than four in 10 respondents said they completed the purchase on Amazon, and over a third said they did so on a brand's website. Fewer (18%) said they bought something after clicking on a Facebook ad.

Meanwhile, an August 2017 study from CivicScience found that 45% of US internet users have never made a purchased based on an ad they saw on social media.  

But that's not to say that social media doesn't influence the path to purchase. In fact, many marketers are still using social platforms to influence purchase decisions and drive sales. By and large, the definition and promise of social commerce is changing, and the code just hasn't been cracked yet