Instagram’s Time Spent Decline ‘Particularly Troubling’

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By Sam Boughedda

In a note centered around social media trends during August, a Morgan Stanley analyst said their analysis shows Meta Platforms’ total time was down 3% during the month, while TikTok’s and YouTube’s increased.

On Meta, he revealed that “total time spent on Meta was down 3% Y/Y in August, the second consecutive monthly decline…though both Instagram and core Facebook (NASDAQ:) total time remains ~7%/~33% above estimated August ’19 levels.”

“Instagram’s 8% Y/Y time spent decline is particularly troubling as we were optimistic that META’s ‘reversal’ in strategy throughout July (a slower push toward short-form video and still-high focus on social graph) would have helped August trends improve vs July,” the analyst added. “In our view, it is important for META to be clear about trends on the upcoming 3Q earnings call in October to clearly describe whether US time spent is actually growing and if these third party data are inaccurate.”

On TikTok, he explained: “TikTok’s US daily users grew ~5% Y/Y in August to reach ~94mn, while average time spent per user grew ~4% Y/Y to reach ~94 minutes per day. In all, total time spent grew 9% Y/Y (a significant deceleration from the ~45%+ Y/Y growth we have seen the past 2 years).”

“This speaks to how the second derivative engagement risk from TikTok to other platforms may be set to start falling. That said, from a monetization perspective, we remain focused on TikTok’s ability to scale ad products, build programmatic tools, and ultimately drive ROI for advertisers,” he added.

And finally, on YouTube, the analyst stated: “Despite TikTok’s growth, it is encouraging that YouTube’s time spent continues to grow (though admittedly slowly) off of very large numbers. The branded ad market (which YouTube over-indexes toward) remains choppy, but these trends give us incremental comfort in YouTube’s ability to re-accelerate growth as Y/Y compares become easier.”

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