LONDON: New research has dismissed suggestions that the Facebook data scandal will significantly alter the course of advertising spend, as social media, a channel expected to receive a 25.4% of digital ad spend this year, looks to survive through growing public anger.

This is according to an eMarketer study, taken before the scandal erupted, which found that £3.3bn will be spent on social media channels this year, an increase of 24% year-on-year.

Though Facebook – aside from its current perception problems, including the divestment of Sonos and Mozilla and the ongoing public #DeleteFacebook campaign – continues to be strong, the research also found that despite the platform’s drop-off in teen users, growth in other platforms such as Snapchat and the Facebook-owned Instagram.

Despite the timing of the research, Bill Fisher, senior analyst at eMarketer rejects the idea that the negative press surrounding Facebook will meaningfully affect ad spend.

"We tend not to make knee-jerk reactions to this sort of news because there is always a lot of bluster around this kind of stuff," he told Campaign, and suggested that Google and YouTube’s experience of brand safety concerns (and actual divestment) from brands.

Fisher’s argument surrounds Facebook’s sheer hugeness and resulting capacity for reach – if this begins to suffer, however, spend might suffer. “Until we see significant numbers of users coming off we are not going to see any drop in ad revenues.

“Advertisers follow eyeballs and there are plenty of eyeballs on social media”, he said in comments reported by the Guardian.

“It is a little bit disingenuous for the brands to put the boot into Facebook,” Fisher added, “when they have been complaining for many years it is this walled garden and they wanted more data out of it.”

In recent months, the world’s biggest advertisers have been increasing calls for more scrutiny of walled gardens’ media reporting, criticising what they see as an opaque media supply chain.

EMarketer’s research suggests that, if social growth continues, it will surpass TV’s share of spend to account for almost a third of UK adspend (29.7%) by 2020, while TV will take just 17.8%.

Sourced from eMarketer, Campaign; additional content by WARC staff