Seasonal Differences in the Cost and Engagement of Facebook Advertisements for a Physical Activity Smartphone App

Celine Northcott, Rachel Curtis, Svetlana Bogomolova, Timothy Olds, Corneel Vandelanotte, Ronald Plotnikoff, Carol Maher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To evaluate the performance of Facebook advertisements for a physical activity smartphone app at different times of the year. Design: A repeated cross-sectional study examined the cost and engagement levels of advertisements during 3 time points: Post-Easter April-May 2019, Pre-Summer October 2019, and New Year January 2020. Setting: Advertisements were delivered on Facebook. Subjects: The target population was Australian females aged 25-60 years. Measures: Cost was evaluated in terms of reach per dollar. Engagement was evaluated in terms of click-through and app downloads per reach. Analysis: ANOVA and Chi-square were used to assess differences in reach per dollar, click-through, and app downloads per reach between time points. Results: Reach per dollar was highest in Post-Easter, but declined in Pre-Summer and New Year (reach/$ 34.8 vs 31.5 vs 27.5; p =.004). Click-through was highest in New Year followed by Post-Easter, then Pre-Summer (click-through 3.2% vs 1.9% vs 1.2%; p <.001). New Year and Post-Easter advertisements achieved higher app downloads per reach than Pre-Summer (downloads 0.9% vs 0.7% vs 0.3%; p <.001). Conclusion: Facebook advertisements were cheaper in the first time-point, and appear to be getting more expensive (i.e. declining reach/$). Advertisements in the New Year achieved the highest click-through and app downloads per reach, suggesting a useful time of year to promote physical activity products.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)803-808
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Promotion
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Easter
  • Facebook advertising
  • New Year
  • online social networks
  • physical activity
  • season
  • summer


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