Social Media Ads: Fairly Annoying, Rather Useless, Somewhat Effective

December 5, 2012

Consumer attitudes to social media ads aren’t all that pretty, but some consumers do take action after seeing social ads, finds a December report from Nielsen. While 1 in 3 social media users agree that ads on social networking sites are more annoying than other online ads, 15% say they’ve shared a social ad after seeing it, 26% have liked such ads, and 14% claim to have made a purchase as a result of one. Those numbers are fairly positive given research from Epsilon finding that just 14% of consumers find social media ads to be useful.

Among the other attitudes that consumers hold about social media advertising, according to Nielsen: 26% are more likely to pay attention to an ad that has been posted by one of their social network acquaintances; 26% are ok with ads that are ID’d based on their profile information; and 17% feel more connected to brands seen on social networking websites.

Asian-Americans Most Likely to Respond to Social Media Ads

Details from Nielsen’s “Social Media Report 2012” indicate that Asian-Americans are easily the most likely to respond to social ads. 31% report having made a product purchase on account of such an ad (more than double the overall sample’s likelihood), while 41% say they have liked an ad and 26% have shared an ad.

Hispanics are also more likely than average to take action. 22% have purchased a product because of an ad (compared to the 14% average), 32% have liked ads (vs. the 26% average), and 21% have shared ads (vs. the 15% average). African-Americans are slightly less likely to have performed all 3 actions, though also count as more likely than the average to have done so. That leaves whites, who are the least likely to have taken any of the actions.

Coupons The Most Likely Purchase

Nielsen also breaks down the types of purchases made after seeing a social ad. The most popular are coupons (i.e. through a daily deal site, retailer, etc.), with 18% of respondents saying they have done so. 10% said they have made a purchase over the internet for a product that was advertised, and 8% claimed to have made a purchase in a store for an advertised product.

The same trends emerged when breaking those categories down by race and ethnicity. Asian-Americans had easily the highest incidence for coupon buys and in-store purchases, though Hispanics were close behind when it came to buying an advertised product over the internet (16% vs. 19%).

About the Data: The data is based on Nielsen’s US Social Media Survey 2012, which was based on a representative sample of 1,998 adult (18+) social media users who were recruited from the Nielsen Online Panel to take an online survey. “Social media user” is defined as participating, talking, and networking online through various platforms to share information and resources. This includes Internet forums, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, video sharing, consumer rating and other social networking websites. The survey fielded from July 19 to August 8, 2012.

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