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, according to a University of Florida study of college-age users.
The survey, conducted by advertising Professor Jon Morris with graduate students Qinwei Xie and Meng Zhang, shows that while college-age users reported positive feelings about business pages on Facebook, sponsored posts and banner ads were viewed as intrusions.
“Companies are directing a lot of money to Facebook without a clue of what’s effective,” Morris says. “People consider Facebook a private space, and they don’t like ads that feel intrusive.”
The survey 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.
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. 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.
With businesses on track to spend more than $3 billion on Facebook in 2011, information on how users perceive ads could help businesses reach customers without alienating them, Morris says.