Meta is one of the two most successful ad publishers in history (along with its duopoly rival, Google), but its ad dominance does not come in tandem with an equally dominant hold over consumers’ time. In fact, Meta’s share of ad revenues is surprisingly out of step with how much time people actually spend on its platforms, particularly when compared with competitors like YouTube and TikTok.
What does it all mean? Meta’s ability to draw ad revenues so out of proportion with its user engagement is a testament to the company’s history of technical and operational prowess. AppTrackingTransparency (ATT) rocked the boat to be sure, but for the most part Meta has cracked the code when it comes to leveraging user data, facilitating ad placements, making life easy for marketers, and ensuring trackable ROI. Its audience scale also remains unmatched. Nonetheless, the magnitude of its advantage in the chart above might raise eyebrows—and suggests some advertisers may be in a rut of path-dependency left over from the days when Meta was more central for consumers than it is now.