Social Ad Snapshot: “Buy Now, Pay Later”

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The concept of “Buy Now, Pay Later” (BNPL) has exploded. According to a study by Ascent, 56% of consumers have now used a “Buy Now, Pay Later” service — up from 38% in July of 2020. That’s an increase of almost 50% in less than one year.

With that in mind, BrandTotal, a leading competitive social advertising intelligence platform has released new data examining how leading ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ platforms — Klarna, Affirm, and Afterpay — have been advertising on top social media channels. 

BrandTotal’s latest study analyzed thousands of paid social campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn from the three leading BNPL solutions over a 90-day period, from June 13 to September 10, 2021.

Klarna wins on Paid Share-of-Voice

In an analysis of paid Share-of-Voice (SOV), which is defined by percentage of sponsored impressions, Klarna dominated, with 51% paid SOV, compared to 35% for Affirm and 14% for Afterpay.


Between August and September, however, Afterpay has leapfrogged Affirm, with paid SOV now sitting at 41% Klarna, 32% Afterpay, and 27% Affirm. 

What it Means: “Buy Now, Pay Later” players rely heavily on social media to educate shoppers about their value and to drive adoption. Klarna is leading the pack there when it comes to advertising.

Klarna Most Aggressive in Courting Gen Z

Klarna was the most likely to advertise to Gen Z (18-24) on social media, as half of its ad impressions (50%) targeted that demographic. For comparison, 41% of percent of Affirm’s impressions and just 8% of Afterpay’s impressions targeted Gen Z. 

“Klarna was the most aggressive in going after younger audiences,” said Alon Leibovich, CEO and Co-founder of BrandTotal.  “Seventy-two percent of their impressions were served to people between 18-35. Only 62% of Affirm impressions reached that group, with just 22% for Afterpay.”

Klarna: Demographic Mix

demo mix-klarna

Affirm: Demographic Mix

demo mix-affirm

Afterpay: Demographic Mix

demo mix-afterpay


Additionally, 83% of all “Buy Now, Pay Later” social media ads targeted women, with just 17% targeting men. 

What it Means: Targeting a younger audience is a strategic move to capitalize on digital natives who not only grew up in a world of social media and ecommerce, but who are also more open to new, technology-enabled payment models.

Most Popular Social Channels

Klarna, Afterpay, and Affirm split their social ad budgets on the following channels:

Buy Now Pay Later: Klarna vs. Affirm vs. Afterpay
  Facebook YouTube Instagram Twitter LinkedIn
Klarna 6% 23% 9% 40% 22%
Affirm 9% 25% 2% 30% 34%
Afterpay 53% 0% 42% 1% 4%

What it Means: Klarna and Affirm have very similar social ad strategies, allocating most of their social media mix on Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Afterpay has opted for a very different strategy, focusing heavily on Facebook and Instagram, while investing nothing on YouTube.

Klarna Outpaces on Video Views

Klarna drove huge Video Views across all of its paid social ads, with 46.2 million. Meanwhile, Afterpay was in 2nd with 1.7 million, followed by Affirm with 1.5 million.

klarna-video views (1)

What it Means: Gen Z is well-known to prefer digital video ads versus static images or text. Klarna’s strategy is Gen Z-focused, which speaks to the company’s reliance on video across its campaigns.

Interested in seeing beyond your brand and understanding what your competitors are doing in paid social? Request a demo today.

About BrandTotal

BrandTotal is a leading social competitive intelligence and brand analytics platform, enabling brand marketers to make decisions based on data, not gut feelings. BrandTotal was founded in 2016 and serves customers in North America, Europe, and Israel. Headquartered in New York, with offices in San Francisco and Israel, BrandTotal's customers range from well-established Fortune 500 brands to the fastest-growing direct-to-consumer challenger brands. The company is funded by world-class VC firms INcapital Ventures, Flint Capital, NHN Investment, One Way Ventures, FJ Labs, Glilot Capital Partners, and Keshet Dick Clark Productions along with early support from Microsoft Accelerator and Oracle Startup Cloud Accelerator. Find us at