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BizReport : Social Marketing : March 31, 2010

What social media ads are the most effective?

What are the differences, if any, in effectiveness and performance between different social media ad formats? That's one of the questions Psychster, a firm that focuses on consumers' attitudes toward different ad types and the brands they promote, and set out to answer.

by Helen Leggatt

In the study, Psychster tested examples of seven types of ads on both Facebook and, the popular recipe/cooking hub. The ad formats, which included banner ads, newsletters, branded profiles with a reciprocal logo, branded profiles without reciprocal logo, "give widgets," "get widgets" and sponsored content, were shown to 478 Allrecipes users and 681 Facebook users and their interaction with the ads recorded.

The study found that while sponsored content ads were the most engaging, they resulted in the least purchase intent. Meanwhile, corporate profiles on social media websites encouraged greater purchase intent and resulted in increased recommendations, particularly when the user was able to become a fan of the business and attach its logo to their own profile.

Widgets that enabled users to create or customize an item to send it to a friend ("give") or keep for their own use ("get") were found to be more engaging than standard banner ads and newsletters, but produced no greater purchase intent.

The conclusion? Context wins.

"No ad type was so engaging that it overcame the advantage found by matching the brand to the website. It is widely believed that ads are at an advantage when the brand relates to the site on which it appears," according to the study (.pdf).

Tags: ad format, advertising, social media

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