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Social media users in the U.S. find advertising is a fair price to pay for using social networks and features, according to a major social media study being conducted as a venture between Knowledge Networks and MediaPost Communications.
According to “The Faces of Social Media,” more than half (59 percent) of social media users say ads are a fair price to pay for social media sites and features. Additionally, 15 percent are more inclined to buy brands that advertise in social media, representing slightly more than 30 million people ranging 13 to 80 years old. These social media site ads also drive brand exploration, with 25 percent of those surveyed saying they are more inclined to find out more about brands that advertise on social media. When coupled with the fact that social media use has reached almost universality, marketers may consider the medium as more than a listening tool, the study suggests.
Advertisers may find those with smartphones to be more receptive to their messages, and an intersection exists with social media that is worth further marketing exploration. Of 13- to 54-years-old smartphone owners who have apps on their phone, almost a third (32%) say they are more inclined to purchase the brands that advertise or have marketing messages in the app. And almost three quarters (70%) of them say ads are a fair price to pay compared to social media's 59 percent.
"We have learned that as social media usage has become nearly universal, its influence on inclination to purchase cannot be ignored," said Patricia Graham, chief strategy officer of San Francisco-based Knowledge Networks. "Yet, we also see that the level of social media influence on categories varies widely, and that is what The Faces of Social Media additionally examines."
Ads within apps also appeal to smartphone owners between the ages of 13 and 54, with 40 percent saying that ads they see while using their smartphones are usually relevant to their "needs and interests."
The social media listening /targeting pool for marketers has also gotten more comprehensive, the study revealed. Frequency of use of social media has grown in the past year, with a quarter of teens and adults using social media daily, representing 20 percent of the American population. Overall usage has increased, as well, with 82 percent of the teen and adult population using social media, an increase from 69 percent in 2009.
Past-year social media growth is attributable to an increasing number of GenXers (those between ages 32-45) and Boomers (46-65 years-old) using social media. GenX usage from 2009 to 2010 increased from 70 to 85 percent. Usage among Boomers increased from 54 to 76 percent. Among Millennials/GenY -- those 13- to 31-years-old -- usage grew from 84 to 91 percent over the last year.
There were no dramatic changes in the impact of advertising within social media over the last year. Similar proportions of respondents said "ads are a fair price to pay for social media sites/features" in both 2009 (63 percent) and 2010 (59 percent). Social media users who are "more inclined to purchase from brands that advertise on social media sites/features" also remained constant, cited by 16 percent in 2009 and 15 percent in 2010.
"Marketers can expect more impact reaching social media users via mobile, based on these new findings," said Chuck Martin, director of the Center for Media Research at New York-based Media Post Communications. "As more people move to smartphones, there will be an increased opportunity for advertisers to improve their reach to consumers with increased relevance."
The Faces of Social Media study comprised interviews with 2,242 people aged 13 to 80 from KnowledgePanel, the Knowledge Networks online panel representative of the U.S. population.
The intent of the ongoing study is to measure the social media landscape and determine the influence of social media on 39 specific product categories. These include banking services, car rental, casual dining restaurants, clothing, personal care products, programs on TV, sports drinks, travel planning, among others. The categories also included Walmart and Target, as well as Super Target and Walmart Supercenter.
The study defined social media as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Myspace, and other similar sites and services. The comparisons with 2009 social media users and to smartphone app users are based on studies previously published by Knowledge Networks in its “How People Use Media,” study and are based on people 13- to 54-years-old.
MediaPost Communications is an integrated publishing and content company whose mission is to provide a complete array of resources for media, marketing and advertising professionals. Knowledge Networks specializes in innovative online research.