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Marketers seeking to increase brand recall, awareness and purchase intent should consider engaging consumers via online social networks, according to a new study from The Nielsen Company and Facebook.

Facebook Ad Exposure Boosts Brand Marketing Efforts
Fourteen Facebook ad campaigns were analyzed three different ways, by each of the types of ads available on Facebook: 1) Lift from a standard “homepage ad”; 2) Lift from an ad that featured social context or “homepage ads with social context”; and 3) Lift from “organic ads,” newsfeed stories that are sent to friends of users who engage with advertising on a brand.

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Consumers who were exposed to a standard homepage ad on Facebook had 10% higher ad recall, 4% higher brand awareness and 2% higher purchase intent than consumers who were not exposed.

Social Context Boosts Ad Effectiveness Further
When a Facebook homepage ad features social context (i.e., the ad includes a list of people on the viewer’s “friend list” who are registered fans of the brand or product), the increase in recall, awareness and purchase intent compared to non-exposed consumers is substantially higher than that caused by standard Facebook homepage ads.

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Consumers exposed to Facebook homepage ads with social context had 16% higher ad recall and 8% higher awareness and purchase intent than non-exposed consumers. This means the lift in purchase intent is four times greater than that provided by standard Facebook homepage ads.

Nielsen analysis suggests consumers trust their friends and peers more than anyone else when it comes to making a purchase decision. Therefore, Facebook ads can offer input and participation by friends and peers, adding a promotional dimension not offered by typical online advertising.

Organic Ads Push Recall, Awareness
Organic Facebook homepage ads offer even better lift in recall and brand awareness than ads with social context. Consumers exposed to organic Facebook homepage ads had 30% higher ad recall, 13% higher brand awareness and 8% higher purchase intent than non-exposed consumers. While organic ads do not encourage purchase intent any more than ads with social context, they clearly make a substantially larger impact on overall consumer awareness.

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SocNet Usage Rises
Another reason for marketers to consider advertising on Facebook or other social networks is that social network usage is rising, according to other Nielsen research. On average, global web users across 10 countries spent roughly five and a half hours on social networks in February 2010, up more than two hours from February 2009. US web users ranked third in the average time they spent visiting social networks, with six hours, two minutes and 34 seconds.

Facebook was clearly the most popular social network globally in February 2010. Facebook’s reach extended to 52% of active social network users, and the site averaged 19.16 sessions per person and time spent of five hours and 52 minutes per person.

About the Survey: Advertising Effectiveness: Understanding the Value of a Social Media Impression is a joint survey from Nielsen and Facebook analyzing data from more than 800,000 Facebook users in response to more than 125 Facebook ad campaigns from 70 brand advertisers.

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