College-age Facebook users react negatively to site's ads: study

May 17, 2011 by Alisson Clark

Customers often “like” businesses on Facebook, but when it comes to those companies’ ads on the social networking site, “dislike” is closer to the mark, says a University of Florida study of college-age users.

The survey, conducted by advertising Professor Jon D. Morris with graduate students Qinwei “Vivi” Xie and Meng Zhang, shows that while college-age users reported positive feelings about business pages on Facebook, sponsored posts and banner were viewed as intrusions.

Believed to be the first of its kind, the study was chosen for presentation at Berlin’s International Conference on the Arts in Society this month, and was recognized as the top faculty paper at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Southeast Colloquium in March.

With businesses on track to spend more than $3 billion on Facebook in 2011, up 55 percent from last year, information on how users perceive the ads could help businesses reach customers without alienating them, Morris said.

“Companies are directing a lot of money to Facebook without a clue of what’s effective,” he said. “People consider Facebook a private space, and they don’t like ads that feel intrusive.”

Xie and Morris surveyed 320 graduate and undergraduate students who were active Facebook users. The web-based questionnaire covered three types of business presence on the site: News Feed ads, which appear as posts on a user’s Facebook home page along with friends’ status updates; banner ads, which appear on the right side of the page; and business profile pages. The three are collectively called Facebook Social Ads.

Business profile pages were the only type of advertisement that received positive ratings. News feed ads, which include posts from companies the user has actively “liked,” garnered more attention than banner ads, but still elicited negative feelings, according to the survey responses. Despite negative feelings toward overt ads, the survey showed that users are reluctant to pay a small monthly fee to use Facebook without advertising content.

Xie said she found it surprising that News Feed ads, which are generated through preferences expressed by users and their friends, would fare as poorly as banner ads when it came to emotional response.

“News Feed ads got more attention than banner ads, but they weren’t having a positive emotional impact,” she said.

The study marks what Xie and Morris believe to be the first academic survey of college students about Facebook Social Ads. Most of the previous studies of college students’ Internet and social network use have dealt with privacy concerns, Morris said.

Xie would like to follow the survey with an experiment that evaluates Facebook users’ responses to banner ads and ads separately to determine which types of advertising reach customers best, she said. But the negative responses toward both of these ads leads her to believe that companies should focus their efforts on building interactive, highly personalized business pages on Facebook to connect with customers.

“Like any advertising, ads have to be relevant to be engaging,” she said.

Explore further: Pioneering research unveils new method for quantifying people-related risks within the LNG industry

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Facebook tries out targeted ads

Apr 06, 2011

Facebook is testing a new system that instantly targets ads based on the content of members' wall posts and status updates, as the social network joins a growing list of Internet companies working with advertisers to market ...

Facebook pays users to view ads

May 06, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- The general consensus is that end users hate ads. That is why companies either try to make them as unobtrusive as possible, such as the small ads you would find in the sidebar of a blog, or ...

Facebook to let advertisers republish user posts

Jan 26, 2011

(AP) -- Facebook users who check in to a store or click the "like" button for a brand may soon find those actions retransmitted on their friends' pages as a "Sponsored Story" paid for by advertisers.

Facebook top publisher of display ads: comScore

May 13, 2010

Facebook has passed Yahoo! to become the top US publisher of display ads on the Web, another milestone for the fast-growing social network, according to figures released on Thursday.

Facebook, Omniture expand marketing partnership

Mar 03, 2010

(AP) -- Facebook and Omniture, the Web analytics software maker, said Wednesday they are working together to help companies use the world's largest social network as a marketing channel.

Recommended for you

Performance measures for CEOs vary greatly, study finds

5 hours ago

As companies file their annual proxy statements with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) this spring, a new study by Rice University and Cornell University shows just how S&P 500 companies have ...

Investment helps keep transport up to speed

9 hours ago

Greater investment in education and training for employees will be required to meet the future needs of the transport and logistics industry, according to recent reports by Monash University researchers.

Sharing = Stealing: Busting a copyright myth

Apr 11, 2014

Consumers copy and share digital files. This has been blamed for a potentially catastrophic decline in certain markets. But why do consumers copy? And is it as economically harmful as often thought?

User comments : 0

More news stories

Down's chromosome cause genome-wide disruption

The extra copy of Chromosome 21 that causes Down's syndrome throws a spanner into the workings of all the other chromosomes as well, said a study published Wednesday that surprised its authors.

Ebola virus in Africa outbreak is a new strain

The Ebola virus that has killed scores of people in Guinea this year is a new strain—evidence that the disease did not spread there from outbreaks in some other African nations, scientists report.