Do Facebook ads really work? Pt. 2Article added by Amy McIlwain on June 2, 2011
Amy McIlwain

Amy McIlwain

Denver, CO

Joined: August 26, 2010

It’s crucial for businesses interested in investing in Facebook ads to understand that it’s not just about paid media, but more about earned media — advertising that is passed along or shared among friends and beyond.

In part two of our Facebook ads series, we are going to post the findings of the Nielsen/Facebook Report: The Value of Social Media Ad Impressions. Our main question in part one was, do Facebook ads really work? The resounding answer was yes, but with a heavy emphasis on the importance of an established fan base willing to help in spreading the word.

Nielsen’s report not only backs this up, but also goes into an in-depth study of three different types of social media ad impressions and their results in online circulation. The image below depicts the three different social media ad campaigns, and I’ve explained their differences and reach below.



    1. Engagement ad: This is your standard homepage ad.

    2. Ad with social context: This is your standard homepage ad with featured social context, such as the listing of your friends that are fans.

    3. Organic ad impression: This is an organic ad, also known as newsfeed stories, that are sent to friends of users who engage with advertising on a brand.
Below are the results showing the difference between the controlled group and the exposed group. For the standard homepage ads (engagement ads), awareness increased on average by 4 percent between exposed and control audiences. Purchase intent also increased on average by 2 percent following ad exposure on Facebook.



As you can see from the results below, comparing the responses of users who had seen ads with social context against users who saw ads with no social context from the same campaign yielded a measurable difference.

Finally, the graph below highlights the differences between the standard homepage ad and the homepage ad plus the organic impression. While exposure to the homepage ad itself increased ad recall, users exposed to both the homepage ad and the organic impression remembered the ad at three times the rate of those just exposed to the paid homepage ad.

Homepage ads increased awareness of the product or brand by 4 percent on average, but exposure to both homepage ads and organic ads increased awareness by a difference of 13 percent versus the control group. Exposure to organic impressions increased the impact of purchase intent of the ad from 2 percent to 8 percent.



This is the first study of its kind, and it speaks volumes about the differences in Facebook ads and social context. As I pointed out in part one, those utilizing Facebook ads successfully already have a solid fan base to call on when it comes to sharing and expanding your brand, and this study simply backs up the fact that social context really does matter.

It’s crucial for businesses interested in investing in Facebook ads to understand that it’s not just about paid media, but more about earned media — advertising that is passed along or shared among friends and beyond.

If you or your business is bouncing the idea of using Facebook ads back and forth, take a stab at it. They are an inexpensive way to reach out to prospective clients, expand your network, create more leads and increase sales. It’s all about the strategy you take in deciding how successful your ads are, and hopefully the Nielsen study shed some light for you on which avenue to take when constructing your social media marketing campaign.
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