Among a selection of the 100 leading brand pages on Facebook those using paid media reached 5.4 times more people on average than those using no paid media, according to a new study.
The report, ‘Understanding Paid & Earned Reach On Facebook,’ published by Facebook together with comScore, forms part of Facebook’s attempts to persuade sceptical brand marketers to migrate their efforts from free fan pages to paid for sponsored stories.
The research, which Facebook claims was conducted independently by comScore, also found that users reached via paid media were more likely to purchase goods and services than the average Facebook user.
comScore looked at how three major brands (an unnamed retailer, an unnamed financial services company and Samsung Mobile) used paid media to extend their audience five times over their organic audience in one week.
Some brands were able to extend the reach of a single post or other piece of content by more than 100 times with paid media, according to comScore.
Paid ads better for reaching ‘lightweight users’
For brands considering Facebook’s paid advertising products as a vehicle to reach a wider audience, there is also the question of the value and demographic distribution of consumers they might catch with a wider net. Facebook ads, or paid media, will reach “slightly lighter” Facebook users than organic content, comScore concluded.
“Paid messages were 30 to 60 percent more likely to reach users that have liked 100 or fewer pages. Similarly, paid messages were 17 to 32 percent more likely to reach users who hadn’t posted a status update in the past 28 days,” the firm noted.
Sean Bruich, head of measurement platforms and standards at Facebook, said: “With media planning, whether its TV or print or Facebook, it’s always desirable to reach those lightweight users, It is true you reach more lightweight users when you’re paying because putting those ads in front of them is ensuring you get in front of those users. I think it’s a good strategy for reaching lightweight users.
“The research establishes that paid media provides an opportunity for brands to extend the reach of their socially enabled brand content on Facebook significantly beyond the audience they are able to reach with organic media alone,” said Facebook in a statement. “Importantly, we find that even brands with the largest fan bases – greater than 20 million fans – benefit significantly from using ads to amplify reach. Finally, this research provides evidence that paid audiences reached on Facebook represent segments that are active in category buyers and shoppers.”
Paid and earned audiences similar?
Facebook says the study shows that paid audiences reached on Facebook are similar demographically to those reached using earned media and are often more likely than the average user to be engaged with the brand.
Compared to the average Internet user, Facebook users reached by paid media from a major retailer were 66 percent more likely to buy from that store online and 45 percent more likely to buy in store, the report found.
comScore also found that users exposed to paid media from Samsung were 24 percent more likely to shop online than the average Internet user.
“Ad campaigns that are focused on reach, reaching a large number of people, were more successful than ones that didn’t,” Bruich said. “I think it helps to dispel the idea that you’re not reaching a good set of customers.”
“These are valuable impressions,” he added. “Making sure that you’re getting that second and first impression in front of the users is a really important part of having a stronger return on investment. With that you’re not just increasing revenue, you’re increasing your ROI… The amplification allows you to ramp up that reach with controlled frequency.”
comScore also drew some interesting conclusions about the shopping and buying behavior of the lighter users that are reached by paid media. “Paid audiences reached on Facebook are generally similar demographically to those reached using earned media, and are often more likely than the average user to be engaged with the brand and its category,” it noted.
Key highlights from the report are pasted below:
• Leading brands on Facebook can use paid media to extend their total brand reach beyond the reach they achieve using organic media alone. Among a selection of 100 topbrand pages on Facebook, those using paid media reach an audience that is on average 5.3 times larger than organic audience alone, and 5.4 times greater than the total audience of top brand pages using no paid media with a similarly sized fan base.
• As an example, we demonstrate how three pages with a range of fan base sizes use paid media to extend their reach significantly beyond their organic audience. Specifically, we found that a Major Retailer, Samsung Mobile, and a Major Financial Services brand use paid media to extend reach by five times over their organic audience in a single week.
• Paid media can extend the reach of a single piece of content by more than 100 times. Among pages like Major Retailer, Samsung Mobile, and Major Financial Services brand, paid media can amplify average lifetime reach of all page posts in a week by between two and 24 times.
• Paid and organic audiences have similar age distributions—the distribution of paid and organic audience in any given age band are within three percentage points of each other.
• Ads are slightly more likely to reach less active Facebook users (10 percentage points), while organic media reaches slightly more heavy Facebook users (between 5 and 10 percentage points).
• Within the paid audience for Major Retailer, Samsung, and Major Financial Services brand, participation in shopping and buying is higher than internet average in key areas relevant to the specific brands. This data suggests that audiences reached by paid media on Facebook represent a valuable potential set of customers for individual brands.
Read the full report here