Facebook Advertising 2018

eMarketer Tackles Big Questions on Usage, Privacy and Ad Targeting in Wake of Cambridge Analytica

Facebook, the second-largest digital publisher in the world behind Google, is an advertiser’s dream: a combination of mass reach and extraordinarily effective targeting. But the Cambridge Analytica revelations and subsequent congressional hearings have surfaced simmering concerns about user engagement, data privacy and ad targeting. What should marketers know about the changes ahead?

  • The #DeleteFacebook movement hasn’t led to mass user defections. However, younger users were already starting to leave even before the Cambridge Analytica revelations in March, and privacy concerns may lead some Gen Xers and baby boomers to reconsider their usage patterns.
  • Key metrics of daily active users (DAUs) and time spent were starting to show weakness even before the news broke. Anecdotal evidence of lowered engagement is gaining data support.
  • Ad spending growth on Facebook will slow markedly this year, but that has less to do with Cambridge Analytica and more to do with larger ad-market dynamics. We expect marketers will continue to advertise on Facebook.
  • However, changes to Facebook’s business terms and ad targeting products will affect marketers’ plans and will also renew the focus on first-party data.
  • Third-party measurement will come under more scrutiny, as will the apps that connect to Facebook.
  • Marketers should use this time to take stock of their data privacy practices, since any discussion of regulations could affect not only Facebook but their own broader marketing efforts.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report shines a spotlight on Facebook usage, data practices and the ad targeting changes that have been made since the Cambridge Analytica news in March.

KEY STAT: In a forecast made before the Cambridge Analytica story broke, we estimated that Facebook’s US ad revenues will grow 16.9% this year, to $21.00 billion.

Here’s what’s in the full report


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Table of Contents

  1. Will Users #DeleteFacebook? Yes, Some Will.
  2. Are Advertisers Leaving? No.
  3. Will Ad Targeting or Measurement Change? Yes.
  4. Will More Privacy Practices Come Under Scrutiny? Yes.
  1. Next Steps for Marketers
  2. eMarketer Interviews
  3. Related eMarketer Reports
  4. Related Links
  1. Related Charts
  2. Media Gallery

Charts in This Report


Debra Aho Williamson


Sean Creamer
Lauren Fisher
Principal Analyst
Andrew Lipsman
Principal Analyst
Natalie McGranahan
Senior Researcher and Taxonomy Manager
Monica Peart
Senior Director, Forecasting