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Study: Are Facebook Ads Truly Effective

James Parsons • Updated on January 13, 2022
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With over 1 billion users, Facebook is an advertising executive’s dream. However, due to the way that Facebook is constructed and the habits of the average Facebook user, many doubt the effectiveness of the platform for reaching advertising exposure goals. This doubt has resulted in a number of studies about the effectiveness of Facebook advertising. While the results of these studies were inconclusive concerning the general effectiveness of Facebook advertising, it was shown that quite a few advertising markets do very well with Facebook ads. Furthermore, some common traits were found regarding effective Facebook ads, and what advertisers can do to make the most of their investment in the platform.

Smaller Target Groups

Broad, categorical advertising on Facebook has been shown to be limited in its effectiveness. This is due to the fact that people tend to utilize Facebook for specific purposes, or they are simply browsing their friend’s pages. Advertisements that target people on their own wall and on their own page are likely to be ignored.

However, targeted ads that are the response to specific queries are an exception to this. Since these advertisements often show up when people are actively searching for a specific product, they are likely to be viewed by interested parties. Also, these specific ads have a much higher likelihood of being utilized by a user, and then “liked” by that user.

“Liked” pages, on the other hand, show up on the walls and timelines of friends. Since people are always more actively scanning their friend’s feeds than their own, it should be the goal of most Facebook ad campaigns to create these “like” situations. People are much more likely to investigate a page or service that has been identified by a friend than one that they are exposed to through their own search. This is one of the most significant results of research on the topic.

Stand-Out Design

Since there is a lot of information on the typical Facebook page, it is difficult for information to stand out to the passive user. Furthermore, since there is usually a significant amount of pictures on a page, it is quite likely that many advertisements become lost in the sheer amount of visual stimulus. To combat this, effective Facebook advertisements must be designed in such a way to promote their access and notice in a difficult visual environment.

To begin with, the visual design must be striking in terms of form and color choice. It is helpful, for brands that have a recognizable logo, for this logo to be prominently displayed. Bright colors, striking images and anything else that can be incorporated into the advertisement to increase the chances of being noticed among the clutter is vital.

Two other ways to design advertisements for high visibility are to create specific, time-sensitive offers, and to link the advertisement to current events. Many people use Facebook as a way to keep up with happenings in the world. Therefore, current events are often noticed by the typical user. By linking advertisements to current events, both with images and calls to action, the likelihood of visibility for an ad goes up significantly. Similarly, limited time offers that feature prominently in the advertising design are helpful as well.

Tracking and Monitoring


Effective web advertising is always monitored and altered as performance metrics demand. However, traditional metrics for measuring an advertising campaign’s effectiveness do not work well for social media and Facebook. This is due to the path to purchase being much longer for social media advertising than with traditional advertising methods.

One way to get around this is to set up exclusive Facebook landing pages on a business website. That way, the number of visitors that come from Facebook can be more effectively measured than with a simple click-through model. Obviously, if an advertisement is not performing well, it must be altered. Looking at the design and focus of the advertisement is the first step in these situations.

Final Thoughts

While it is impossible to make a blanket statement concerning the effectiveness of Facebook advertising, it is absolutely possible to ensure that these ads are as effective as possible. Executives have had a great deal of success utilizing social media for marketing purposes, and there is no reason to think that this will not continue. The important thing is to realize the intricacies of this form of advertising, and to alter expectations, targets and analysis to match up with the social networking environment.


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