Facebook Ads With Social Context More Effective

Ads that include mentions of friends who are fans of brands create higher brand recall, awareness and purchase intent among Facebook users, according to the first report to come out of the collaboration of Nielsen Co. and Facebook.

Advertising Effectiveness: Understanding the Value of a Social Media Impression, analyzed data from more than 800,000 Facebook users and more than 125 Facebook ad campaigns across 70 different brands.

This study was intended to determine how paid media and “earned” media — or advertising shared among friends — contribute to ad campaigns. It used the following criteria to determine the value of ad campaigns on Facebook:

  • brand awareness;
  • purchase intent; and
  • ad recall.

Nielsen looked at 14 Facebook ad campaigns that used “Become A Fan” as the call to action, then determined the effectiveness in the following ways:

  • lift from a standard homepage ad;
  • lift from homepage ads with social context, or ads that mention friends of the Facebook user who have become fans of the brand in the ad; and
  • lift from organic ads, or newsfeed stories sent to friends of users who engage with advertising on a brand.

The findings revealed that people who viewed ads with social contexts had higher response rates than people who viewed the same ads without social context. Ad recall, for example, grew from 10 percent to 16 percent, while brand awareness increased from 4 percent to 8 percent. What’s more, purchase intent jumped from 2 percent to 8 percent.

While exposure to the homepage ad itself increased ad recall, those users exposed to both the “paid ad” and the organic impression remembered the ad at three times the rate of those just exposed to the paid homepage ad. While homepage ads increased awareness of the product or brand by 4 percent on average, exposure to both homepage and organic ads increased awareness by 13 percent versus the control group. Exposure to organic impressions also impacted purchase intent, increasing the impact of the ad from 2 percent to 8 percent.


Target Marketing covers all direct response media, including direct mail, e-mail, telemarketing, space advertising, the Web and direct response TV, and gives readers insight into such subjects as using databases and lists effectively, acquiring new customers, upselling and cross-selling existing customers, fulfillment strategies and more. The publication was acquired by Adweek in September 2020.
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