Peter Kafka

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Trust Us, Facebook Ads Do Work: comScore Study Out Next Week

Facebook is understandably unexcited about the “Facebook ads don’t work” meme. They’ll try turning that around next week, armed with a new study from comScore.

The online measurement company put up a brief preview of the report on Thursday, via a blog post. The headline gives you a good idea of what we’ll see next week: “It’s Time to Change the Discussion on Measuring Facebook Effectiveness.”

A summary of the summary:

  • ComScore says that Facebook “earned media” ads — the kind that Facebook users distribute on their own, via “Likes” and “Shares” — do help sell stuff. In their words, the ads have a “statistically significant positive lift on people’s purchasing of a brand.”
  • ComScore doesn’t put any stock in the Reuters survey that said 80 percent of users have never bought anything they’ve seen advertised on Facebook. That’s because it’s a survey of what people think they do, and “people generally don’t like to believe that advertising actually has an effect on their behavior.” ComScore, meanwhile, says it can measure both online behavior and offline purchases, and can connect the two.
  • ComScore is also unimpressed with the Reuters survey question that shows a third of Facebook users visiting the service less often than they did six months ago. By its count, “time spent per user is actually up a few percent in that period.”

If you want a reason to be skeptical about this, you’d note that Facebook is a comScore client, and that the two companies worked together last summer to produce a study about the way brands use Facebook. The report they’re putting out next week is a sequel to that one, and it’s reasonable to wonder what would have happened if comScore concluded that ads don’t work on Facebook.

But comScore carries a lot of clout in the online ad world, so it’s very likely that lots of marketers will take next week’s news quite seriously. Which will cheer the Facebook folks quite a bit.

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock/Tyler Olson)


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work