Facebook advertising has been clearing its name over the last year. Increasingly, social ads are starting to gain some traction. Facebook's self-serve advertising platform is on track to bring in $1 billion in revenue this year.

And according to Nielsen, Facebook ads are very effective — if you already have a large following that is willing to help with publicity.

Nielsen followed 800,000 Facebook users interacting with over 125 ad campaigns created by about 70 brands. Nielsen estimates that about 1 million users saw organic mentions of the companies included in the study without seeing their ads and 18 million saw ads measured by the study.

On average, Nielsen's study found that ads on Facebook users' homepages resulted in a 10% ad recall increase, a 4% brand awareness increase and a 2% increase in purchase intent compared to a control group that did not see the ads. 

But it's the earned media that is really making these ads work. Users whose friends mentioned a brand in their news feed in conjunction with a "Become a fan" ad were three times as likely to recall the ad. Brand awareness jumped 8% when a "social ad" included the names of friends who were brand fans and 13% when a home-page ad appeared along with a mention of friends who were brand fans in the users' news feeds.

For brands purchasing ads on Facebook, this means that the content of those ads is important. But more important is what Facebook users already think of the company. Facebook ads perform better when brands purchasing them can leverage their existing fan base. A brand trying to launch on Facebook will find itself in trouble unless it can get people to fan and share its content.

Facebook is reportedly announcing a new ad platform at the f8 developer conference this week, and the social aspect is likely to play an even larger role in the company's ad offerings. 

It's easy to buy audience exposure on Facebook, but that's only as good as what happens when your brand is put in front of the networks' users. If the people who see your ads know someone who is an evangelist or proponent of your brand, you're likely to get a whole lot further with them.

Meghan Keane

Published 20 April, 2010 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

721 more posts from this author

You might be interested in

Comments (4)

David Iwanow

David Iwanow, SEO Product Manager at Marktplaats.nl

Agree it can make a difference in CTR and also conversion rates, but not sure how the new "like" aspect might skew this and change the metrics that you have built up around the "fanpage" campaigns.

about 8 years ago



Hi Meghan,

Great post! Was looking for some statistics about Facebook Ads. ;) Think you covered it well

-Melvin Ho


almost 8 years ago


Patrick Conlon

THanks a million enjoyed the post. I for one need to really get my magazine into the facebook arena....to the right readers...thanks P

almost 8 years ago


Steve Mousley

Thanks for this. I am thinking of exploring the use of Facebook advertising to grow awareness, trust and curiosity of our business however needed to understand more how effective this could be. I understand clearly how focused google ads can be but needed to be more clear on how facebook could trigger a ripple-effect of interest in my site. Many thanks. Steve.

over 7 years ago

Save or Cancel

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Digital Pulse newsletter. You will receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.