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Good Old-Fashioned Banner Ads Outperform Social Media Alternatives

By on March 30, 2010

Just a few hours ago Mashable published findings from a social media engagement study on a high-profile website. The study intended find out which types of advertisements would perform best as far as engagement and purchase power. The full report is embedded below.

If you refer to page 2 of the report, “Methodology,” you will find that participants in this study are being shown video screen-captures of a third-person manipulating the mouse, navigating a website and clicking on various ads. They are then asked questions in a traditional 5-point rating survey.

I can’t bring myself to wholly agree with this methodology, but I have never seen it in action. Why not use eye-tracking or an actual sampling of user actions? Yes, this process may be expensive, but any other alternative will come up short.

That being said, I feel like the results would be similar to a large scale study, so maybe being frugal paid off. Now let’s take a look at what they found.

Mashable asks, What Social Media Ad Types Work Best?

As it turns out, their findings are not related to social media at all.

The most effective ad type in terms of purchasing power was found to be traditional banner ads that were matched with website content. In the case of this study, it was a soup brand on a recipe website.

Of the seven advertising types, banner ads and newsletter links were the most successful at encouraging purchase intent.

By “newsletter links,” Mashable is referring to a specific area on a website where a user can subscribe to a newsletter (as seen here, upper right). Not an actual hyperlink.

The other ad types shown to participants were interactive widgets (save or share virtual goods/info), sponsored content (holiday message sponsored by a brand), and corporate profiles (Facebook fan pages).

What else can we conclude from this study? Facebook fan pages can be an effective way to engage customers and visitors and may provide the added psychological effect of prompting purchases from those who choose to become fans.

The Full Report


About Mark Fulton

Mark is the Founder of DotSauce Magazine and a full time web developer, domain investor, SEO and online marketing professional residing in North Carolina, USA. Visit MarkFulton.com for information on freelance website development, SEO and consultation services.