While the wealth of personal information provided by users is one of the main selling points for advertisers, promising to allow them to deliver more targeted online ads, the users themselves may not be so thrilled with the idea, judging by the results of a YouGov survey of social media users in the UK.
YouGov found that 47% of users don’t like having ads targeted to them based on information included in their social media profiles, including activities, interests, and other personal data. Of course how you take this result depends on whether you’re a “glass half full” or “half empty” kind of person, as 53% apparently don’t mind. It’s also not clear whether and how social network users would know that ads were being targeted to them on the basis of information in their profiles, as this sort of targeting can be fairly subtle.
Nonetheless, the fact remains that roughly half of social network users don’t like the idea of advertisers sifting their profiles for nuggets of marketability, which is food for thought for social media advertisers.
What’s more, the supposedly positive “halo” effect of social media for brands -- i.e., people liking brands because their friends do -- may be more theoretical than real: in the YouGov survey, 44% of respondents said that having a friend who followed or liked a brand would not make them feel more positively about. And 43% said they even if they heard something positive about a brand, they are unlikely to talk about it on social media.
Again, all this is open to an equally optimistic interpretation, as it implies 56% of respondents would be more favourable to a brand their friends like, and 57% would consider talking about it on social media. Perhaps the bottom line here is that social media audiences aren’t uniform in the way they use social media when it comes to brands and advertising.