Are Facebook ads more effective than TV ads?

Advertisers spent more than $66 billion on television spots in 2013. Social networks would love to get a bigger slice of that pie.

By Benzinga Feb 28, 2014 3:47PM

Caption: The Facebook logo is seen on a tablet screen
Credit: © Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty ImagesBy Jim Probasco

Facebook (FB) thinks its ads are more effective than those on television. 

The company believes its ability to target specific audiences and the fact that Facebook viewers engage online at a higher rate than when watching TV mean advertisers should consider spending more money on Facebook ads and less on TV.

The social network on Wednesday highlighted two recent ad campaigns to prove its point. One involved AARP, previously known as the American Association of Retired Persons.

The AARP ads were aimed at Facebook members over the age of 45 and designed to build awareness of the fact that AARP is not just for retired people.

The American Legacy Foundation launched a second campaign designed to reach teens in an effort to curb teenage smoking.

Both ad campaigns ran on Facebook's News Feed section, where most Facebook members spend the majority of their time.

According to Tammy Gordon, AARP vice president of social strategy, her organization was not just interested in how effective Facebook ads would be alone. Gordon said, "One of the things we wanted to test is if there a better result when you air a TV ad spot and support it on social media."

Based on results of a Nielsen Online survey, 14 percent of 45-to-64-year-old Americans said they saw the AARP campaign.

With regard to the American Legacy campaign, nearly 50 percent of 13- to 19-year-olds in the U.S. saw at least one anti-smoking ad, according to Nielsen.

With more than a billion Facebook users globally, a number that rivals the number of people who watch TV, the demographic stakes for both advertisers and for Facebook are high.

So are the financial stakes. Advertisers spent more than $66 billion on television spots in 2013, according to eMarketer. Facebook, with about $7 billion in global ad revenue in the same year, would love to get a bigger slice of that pie.

Debra Aho Williamson, principal analyst at eMarketer, explained Facebook’s view on the difference between seeing an ad on Facebook and viewing one on TV saying, "It's not just sitting on the couch and watching something go by."

The implications of the effectiveness of digital advertising do not affect Facebook alone. If advertisers buy in to the notion that Internet ads are effective and worth their investment, other brands will reap the benefits as well.

Small wonder then that The Wall Street Journal reported that ZenithOptimedia expected online ad spending to expand as much as 15 percent in 2014. While much of that expansion will come at the expense of shrinking dollars spent on print media, more and more of it will also come from advertising monies previously dedicated to television.

At the time of this writing, Jim Probasco had no position in any mentioned securities.

More from Benzinga

Mar 1, 2014 12:50AM
I pay absolutely NO attention to ads on Facebook.  Scroll right through them.  Have no time for them.
Feb 28, 2014 9:15PM
So how effective are TV ads in the first place? Seeing an ad is a long way from basing a product decision on any advertising campaign. There are at least 3.2 billion TV viewers which is 3 times the number of people that use Facebook. TV ads on a 30" or larger device are a much more commanding experience then watching an 1" border ad on Facebook.
Mar 2, 2014 10:27AM
Facebook and AARP are for Losers !
Mar 2, 2014 11:19AM
I don't pay attention to adds at all except in print! TV & computer ads are useless to me!
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