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Earned Media Gives Brands a Lift on Facebook

Social ads boost brand metrics

Marketers hungry for something more than soft measures of social media exposure and estimates of average fan value can look to hard data on lift in ad recall, awareness and purchase intent from The Nielsen Company and Facebook.

The joint study on social media advertising effectiveness looked at three types of ads on the social networking giant: typical ads on the homepage, ads that incorporated the names of friends who were brand fans and mentions of the brand in a friend’s newsfeed.

Ads with “social advocacy” components—that is, those that included information about users’ friends—and organic exposures to brand mentions both increased recall, awareness and purchase intent significantly. For example, Facebook users exposed to both a homepage ad and brand mentions in their newsfeed were three times as likely to remember the ad and be aware of the brand than viewers of the homepage ad only. Purchase intent was four times as great among viewers of any marketing with a social component compared with users exposed to just a traditional ad.

The data bolsters research on the value of word-of-mouth and friend recommendations.

“If you like Coca-Cola or Diet Coke, and I go to Facebook and I see an ad for that and I see that you liked the brand, I’m much more likely to engage with the creative and the message than I would be if there were no social actions attached to it,” Mike Murphy, vice president of global sales at Facebook, told eMarketer senior analyst Debra Aho Williamson in a recent interview.

Further, earned media exposures continue to have an effect beyond that of repeated exposure to traditional display ads. Brand awareness and purchase intent showed significant lift even after 10 or more impressions.

“Many research studies have shown that friends and family are among the biggest influences on purchase decisions,” Ms. Williamson said. “Advertising that incorporates recommendations from social network contacts is starting to show similar results.”

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Check out today’s other article, “Millennials Big on Blogs.”

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