View Twitter chat schedule: #SMTLive

Advertising on Social Media via Nielsen

The Nielsen 2012 State of Social Media report was released earlier last week. I previously went over the report’s findings about the largest social networks of 2012. The report also contains some interesting information about advertising on social media and what it means for consumers.

Consumer Sentiment towards Social Media Advertising

Nielsen found a surprising statistic about consumer sentiment towards social media advertising. Nearly one-third of users believe that ads on social media sites are more annoying than other ads online. Social media isn’t supposed to be annoying. It’s supposed to be meaningful.

There are a few things this statistic tells me. Number one is social integration. In an attempt to make advertising more social, many social networking sites “hide” advertising within other content. An example of this is promoted trends on Twitter. These ad units are tied into other trends and tweets on Twitter. To some consumers, this might appear to be deceptive. The result is an annoyance and distrust of the brand advertising, when it should in fact be upon the social network.

This number also tells me some businesses aren’t using social media advertising correctly. Many social media platforms offer robust targeting options to their advertising. The goal is to display the right ads to the right people. Many businesses fail at this, and the result is irrelevant and sometimes irritating ads. It becomes frustrating when you see an ad in a language you don’t speak, an area you don’t live in (I’ve had ads for NYC bars in Facebook), and when the ads surely shouldn’t be targeting someone your age. Businesses can avoid this frustration by developing targeting strategies that make sense.

Finally, there is the aspect of spam and quality businesses advertising. For example, I have noticed a big drop in quality brands advertising on Facebook. The more lesser quality businesses advertising on a site, the less likely consumers will find these ads trustworthy and relate able. The result is a drop in engagement and an increase in frustration. It’s up to social media sites to develop ways to increase the quality of ads being served on their own sites.

Consumer Actions after Seeing Social Media Advertising

The study also digs into consumer actions after seeing social media advertising. Nielsen found that after seeing social ads:

  • 15% shared the ads
  • 26% liked the ads
  • 14% purchased the product

Though noting that these percentages are not actual share/like rates, these actions are still proof that social media advertising works and helps drive sales. Remember that those who like Pages after seeing ads get future brand content in their newsfeed. This organic content will only further the brand’s messaging and is where I believe the true bread and butter of social media marketing lies.

Influence of Social Media Advertising

Nielsen discovered organic and organic-like posts on social media continue to have a greater influence on consumers. 26% of users are more likely to pay attention to an ad posted by a friend. In this instance, we’re talking about advertising such as Sponsored Stories on Facebook. These ad units display content in a more social manner, listening a user’s friend’s name in the ad. An example would be “Mary likes Nike.” Consumers see this content as more trustworthy, thinking “I value Mary’s opinion about Nike, so I’m going to like Nike’s page, too.” Social networks must create paid media that connects with social connections to make advertising more effective and relevant to users. At the same time, they cannot be deceptive and place too much paid media within organic content.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the Nielsen study shows that social media advertising can be effective. However, care must be made to ensure consumer sentiment towards these ads remains positive. As more and more brands take the plunge into social media advertising, it will become increasingly important to ensure ad placements, ad types, and ad targeting appears legitimate and applicable to the targeted consumers.

- Bryan Nagy


Join The Conversation

  • bryannagy's picture
    Dec 17 Posted 4 years ago bryannagy

    There will never be any forms of advertising where we get 80% of people to like or share content. Never. Even organic posts by users themselves don't see this type of engagement. Most are lucky if they get 1-2 likes per post. The fact that brands CAN get these engagements says something.

    Also, though the numbers may seem low, the cost of these posts is low and when combined with other forms of advertising along the purchase funnel the ROI is worth it.

  • Dec 17 Posted 4 years ago thecontentwrangler

    What missing here is the stats (and potential brand damage) done by pushing too much content out and overwhelming a consumers news feed. What isn't tracked is how many people like, then unlike because the brand doesn't understand social.

    These stats seem impressive, but not if you flip them around

    • 15% shared the ads (85% did not)
    • 26% liked the ads (74% did not)
    • 14% purchased the product (86% did not)

    In what orther profession would such low numbers be rewarded with applause and the sound of peers slapping each other on the backs and saying "Good job!". We have a long way to go...

  • Dec 12 Posted 4 years ago glennbraxton

    The fastest way to enhance brand awareness via social media is by using advertising. Preparing a budget on this will surely make impact. Use multiple social media. Use to check username availability on different social media then claim your name using

  • bryannagy's picture
    Dec 12 Posted 4 years ago bryannagy

    Thanks Sam!

  • Samuel Chan's picture
    Dec 12 Posted 4 years ago Samuel Chan

    Hi Bryan,

    Very well written, especially on the part where you mentioned how "robust targeting options" in advertising platforms can help to achieve better relevancy and produce a better user experience overall.

    In fact, I can't agree more on your take about ad relevancy and better targeting options in an attempt to improve ad quality, I even wrote a post about it: Intent-based targeting: The Evolving Search and Social Advertising Model

    Thank you for the article, will be sharing it on my stream as well. 

    Samuel Chan

Webinars On Demand

  • May 09, 2017
    With all of the technologies available to marketers today, have we lost that personal touch? Join VP of Content Marketing for ON24, Mark Bornste...
  • April 05, 2017
    In the ever-changing world of digital marketing, operational efficiency, quick turn-around times, testing and adapting to change are crucial to...