What Drives Sponsored Social Messaging Effectiveness for Consumers?

November 17, 2015

This article is included in these additional categories:

Digital | Social Media | Sponsorships | TV Advertising

IZEA-Sponsored-Social-Message-Effectiveness-Nov2015Sponsored Social content is believed to be highly effective by those who see it, according to a recent study from IZEA, which surveyed slightly more than 1,000 Americans aged 18-70, 36% of whom had noticed Sponsored Social content in the past year. In fact, this group of consumers rates only TV ads as highly as they do Sponsored Social messages.

The results are interesting in light of MarketingCharts’ primary research into advertising effectiveness, which found this year a strong gain in the perceived influence of social media ads on purchases. The MarketingCharts study – “Advertising Channels With the Largest Purchase Influence on Consumers” – reveals that for Millennials (18-34), social ads are now second only to TV ads in perceived effectiveness among paid media.

For the purposes of its report, IZEA defined Sponsored Social to survey participants as “when you see posts from people you follow on online platforms such as those you just indicated you visit, read, subscribe to or follow. In Sponsored Social, part of the original content is an advertisement of some kind. It may involve the person taking a photo with a product that is endorsing them, or the person mentioning the service or product in their blog post. These sponsorships are always disclosed within the post – that is, the sources/writers say they are being compensated or paid to endorse the product.”

Asked to rate the importance of various factors in driving Sponsored Social message effectiveness, respondents were most likely to point to:

  • Whether they can tell the source has actually tried/used the product or brand (60% rating as a top-3 box on a 10-point scale of importance);
  • The credibility of believability of the source/writer (also 60%);
  • Their own past experience with products the source/writer has endorsed (59%);
  • How much detail the source/writer provides about the product or brand (59%);
  • The source/writer’s expertise or knowledge about the product or brand category (58%); and
  • How much they respect the source/writer (57%).

By comparison, the fame and/or popularity of the source/writer are of lesser importance to respondents, rated as being highly important by fewer than half.

Overall, respondents reported seeing a total of 86 Sponsored Social messages per month across the various platforms tested, equating to about 3 per day. Looking at specific sites, Facebook users estimated seeing the most Sponsored Social messages per month, at 42, followed by YouTube users (33), Twitter users (28) and Instagram users (27). The study authors note that “platforms with more frequently-changing content yield higher average number of Sponsored Social messages seen.” Presumably, the amount of use of each platform is also a factor; for example, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram are among Millennials’ top mobile apps by time spent, per comScore data [download page].

In terms of the volume of messages, Facebook users were the most likely to report seeing more Sponsored Social messages than a year ago, with a majority of YouTube users also saying the same. However, while sponsored content on Facebook is deemed to be gaining in effectiveness, it’s on the lower end of the effectiveness scale. Instead, Sponsored Social messages on Periscope, Snapchat, and Instagram are considered the most effective by respondents.

About the Data: The study is based on a national online survey of 1,003 US consumers age 18-70, of whom 36% met the following criteria and were the basis for the report:

  • Spent 15+ hours per month online beyond using email;
  • Visited at least one social media platform at least monthly; and
  • Must have noticed Sponsored Social message/posts/content during the past year.

The survey was designed and analyzed by The Right Brand Consumer Consulting, LLC with analytic support from Halverson Group. It was programmed and hosted by Lightspeed/GMI using their nationally representative online panel.

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