Nielsen have been working with Facebook to assess the efficacy of ads on the platform and the results are pretty interesting – as reported on AdAge.
First the basics – Facebook ads increase ad recall, brand awareness and intent to purchase. Specifically the Nielsen study of over 800,000 Facebook users found home page ads generated a 10% hike in recall, 4% in awareness and 2% in intent to purchase. This tells us that users are not ad-blind and that the messages get through to at least some of them. Someone in the comments on the AdAge post said that these figures are comparable with banner ads generally.
Now the interesting bit – when the ads got social recall etc. rose even higher. If the ad featured friends of the user who were brand fans the increase in recall jumped to 16% and if the ads were co-incided with a similar mention in the users news feed the increase jumped to 30%. Brand awareness and intent to purchase saw similar increases.
I like the way this shows how earned media compliments paid media. If a brand has gone to the trouble of building up a large base of fans (earned media) it will get better results from its ad campaigns (paid media). Moreover, keeping the fan base live, as measured by mentions in news feeds further improves the results.
This is all good news for social media sites generally. I had been wondering if ad budgets were going to shift decisively from paid media to earned media (i.e. from buying ad campaigns to employing people to engage with brand fans) but this study suggests that rather than alternatives paid and earned media work well together.
The Nielsen study stopped short of making the link to actual purchases, but they are saying they will extend the study in that direction in the future. The results of that will be really interesting, and give us a true calculation of the value of a fan.