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Two thirds of consumers shun ads on social networks

Two thirds of consumers shun ads on social networks

Two thirds (67%) of social network users say that they rarely pay attention to adverts on social networking sites – and the figure is even higher when just the 25-34 age group is taken into account.

New research by Mintel reveals that 70% of 25 – 34 year olds say they pay little attention to ads on sites such as Facebook. The same research also suggests that more than half of consumers (56%) say they wouldn’t like to buy a product they saw advertised on a social networking site - suggesting that brands have to go beyond paid adverts to influence consumer purchasing decisions.

In Mintel’s, report examining the social media and networking market, just 11% of consumers say they actively pay attention to advertising on social networks whilst almost a third (31%) listen instead to recommendations for products and services from their online social network.

“Our research does not suggest that advertising on social networks is ineffective, but that social network users may not find ads on social networks particularly memorable or relevant, on a conscious level at least, said Cecilia Liao, senior technology analyst at Mintel.

“This highlights the fact that companies who want to use social media as a promotional tool need to look beyond text ads or interactive banners and invest in actual engagement with the consumers. Static ads are not always the best way forward for consumer interaction, which is why it's so important for marketers to use social networks to communicate and engage with customers through organic content, status updates and interesting creative campaigns."

Mintel’s findings also suggest that the recession has helped fuel the growth of group-buying discount websites and social network deals, with 58% of consumers saying they have been more diligent in researching prices since the economic downturn and 15% of social network users saying they use social networking sites to find cheap deals on things to do. Thirteen per cent say they use social networks to find out about information about brands.

Today, one in three (32%) of social network users say they talk to their friends online more than face to face. Women are more likely than men to use social networking websites, with 83% of females having used any sites compared with 77% of males - but only 10% of women, compared with 18% of men, like the idea of commerce on social networks.  

Over half (58%) of social network users agree they are concerned about privacy when using social networking sites. Mintel’s research finds that 44% of social network users do not like the idea of buying things on social networks, partly due to privacy concerns.

“Recent data breaches from big brands, where hackers have stolen personal information such as names, e-mail addresses, and even credit card details, will only further add to concerns over the safety of personal data stored online. This in turn could have negative implications for social network advertising that incorporate personal data of members in marketing campaigns. Transparent policies that educate users on how data are stored, used, and shared can address these challenges,” warned Liao.

Interestingly, it appears that social media sites are now ingrained to such an extent in our lifestyles that some consumers are now willing to pay to use them. Twelve per cent of consumers now say they are prepared to do so if such an occasion arises.  

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