Facebook Ads Deliver Like(s) Despite Dislike By College Students


Christopher Lien likes fast cars. I learned that about the Marin Software founder in 2009 while we talked in an alley outside the Geisha House restaurant at the corner of Cherokee and Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, Calif.

So it came as no surprise to learn that through Marin, the digital ad agency Path Interactive quickly drove up click-through rates on Facebook ads by more than 35%, decreased "cost-per likes" (CPLs) by about 30%, and reduced time spent reporting by 20%.

For Path Interactive, the time savings came from tapping into Marin's experience in managing Facebook ads. It came from using Marin's automated alert and report system that cut time spent building client reports by more than 20%. Time also got cut from changing creative ads when click-through rates for campaigns began to drop.

Facebook advertising continues to grow in importance for Path Interactive's clients. And it will become more important as clients continue to spend an increasing amount of time managing and optimizing paid-search ads on the social site.

Facebook display ad revenue should rise 80.9% to $2.19 billion in 2011, according to an eMarketer study released earlier this year.

Maybe -- but a University of Florida study released last week reveals a different view. A survey of college-age students 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, they viewed sponsored posts and banner ads as intrusive.

Morris and Xie surveyed 320 graduate and undergraduate students who were active Facebook users. The 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 that appear on the right side of the page; and business profile pages.

The survey reveals that the business profile pages were the only type of ad to receive 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.

The findings also reveal that despite negative feelings toward the ads, users are reluctant to pay a small monthly fee to use Facebook without advertising content. Perhaps that's why Marin's offering worked so well for Path Interactive's clients.

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