One of the main pitches social networks make to brands is that placing ads on these platforms gives marketers the ability to leverage the power of users’ networks to share content, creating brand awareness and improving sales. There have been a number of studies on this topic, including one from Nielsen in 2011 which found that 76% of U.S. consumers trust recommendations from personal acquaintances more than other forms of advertising. Facebook rolled out some new premium advertising products at the end of February that emphasize harnessing these friend connections to make advertising innately more social and help brands accomplish this goal — Facebook advertisers will now be able to distribute ads to fans of companies in news feeds, the right-hand column, and in a log-out message; these ads will also be in the news feed of its mobile app.
On the heels of this introduction, Nielsen has released the results of a new study showing that social ads are recalled 55% more than those that don’t allow people to share ad content with friends. “Social ads are those served to users who have friends that are fans of or have interacted with the advertised brand and prominently call the relationship out,” Nielsen says, “while non-social ads are served to the remainder of the Facebook population”. It should be noted that Nielsen is a Facebook partner, and has created the online system that enables Facebook advertisers to improve their campaign measurement effectiveness and online reach.
To measure how well social ads gain audience traction, Nielsen analyzed 79 Facebook campaigns over six months to see what, if any, advantages social ads offer vs. traditional ads. Prior Nielsen research showed that online ads in general tend to be noticed and remembered overall, so the new data shouldn’t come as a surprise:
The current campaign analysis further demonstrates that social ads offer an advantage. Based on this data, marketers should consider leveraging ads with social content as a means to better utilize the power of the consumer networks that engage with their brands. It also serves as a reality check for marketers’ efforts to create more social connection points with their consumers, demonstrating that a well-executed social campaign better positions their brands to reach a larger group of prospective customers.