Skip to main content

Researchers say Facebook ads DO work

ComScore says Facebook ads really do work and it has the numbers to prove it. The research firm on Thursday teased a new report due out next week that presents "new findings about the effectiveness of paid and earned media exposure on Facebook."

"Through our research, which examines the impact on consumer behaviour as a result of media exposure (i.e. seeing a brand message), we are gaining critical new insights that show Facebook earned media is having a statistically significant positive lift on people's purchasing of a brand," comScore wrote in a blog post.

ComScore will release its findings alongside a new white paper called "The Power of Like 2: How Social Marketing Works" at next week's ARF Audience Measurement 7.0 conference in New York.

The comScore report arrives amidst a swirl of uncertainty and doubt over Facebook's advertising business. General Motors famously pulled its ads from the site in May, just days before Facebook's initial public offering, saying its ad campaigns were having little impact with consumers. A survey published by Reuters earlier this week found that 80 percent of Facebook users claimed to "have never bought a product or service as a result of advertising or comments on the social network site." Citing the Reuters poll, comScore warned against taking too much from it.

"While surveys can be useful in assessing ad effectiveness lifts across attitudinal dimensions such as brand awareness, favourability, and purchase intent, people tend not to provide very accurate assessments of their own behavior," the research firm wrote.

"[P]eople generally don't like to believe that advertising actually has an effect on their behaviour, even though time and time again various forms of advertising research have shown that it does. So, how people respond to a question asking whether or not Facebook advertising (or any other advertising for that matter) has affected their purchase behaviour may end up having little correlation with their actual behavior," comScore added.

ComScore noted that consumer "view-throughs" of online advertising have proven effectiveness, though perceptions can still be clouded by the notion that an online ad is only effective if it's getting "click-throughs," a measure of effectiveness that isn't placed on marketing in other media that doesn't allow such interactivity with users.

New methodologies for determining the effectiveness of online ads are now being used "due to the realisation that clicks are a weak indicator of true campaign performance because they ignore the importance of simply viewing an advertising message (otherwise known as the 'view-through' impact of exposure)," the firm said.

User exposures to an ad or brand on Facebook shouldn't necessarily be expected to deliver immediate results, comScore added. Consumer behaviour changes in response to successful marketing can be latent, taking "weeks or even months following exposure" to an ad to surface in purchasing decisions.