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September 6, 2013updated 19 Aug 2016 9:24am

Shock, horror: people don’t like Facebook ads

New research may seem obvious, but what are the implications for Facebook?

By Jason Stamper Blog

It surely comes as little surprise that according to research just published, only 3% on Facebook like the adverts. I’m surprised the figure is even that high, given that so many Facebook adverts in the sidebar are for things like cheap and sleazy dating sites, muscle ‘enhancers’ and the like, complete with dodgy pictures, poor graphic design and plenty of typographical errors.

However the research does make a more noteworthy point: the dislike of adverts is resulting in the growing use of ad-blocking software. That could have the potential to affect Facebook’s monetisation strategy, of course.

Censuswide interviewed 2,244 people in the UK for ad blocking firm Adblock Plus, and found that only 3% like Facebook adverts generally. 69% dislike ads in Facebook’s mobile app; 66% dislike ads in their Facebook news feeds and 51% disliked tailored advertising. Conversely, 63% said they are not bothered at all by advertising in print magazines (how many of that sample actually read print magazines is not clear).

Till Faida, founder of Adblock Plus said, "Our findings show that people have nothing against advertising, as it is accepted in a number of mediums from TV to print publications. The issue here is about people’s ability to control their online experience. Ads appearing in Facebook news feeds and through mobile apps interfere too much with the user experience."

There’s a serious point to be made here. Facebook has said that it’s ‘free and always will be’, which means advertising is its biggest revenue driver. But what if you could pay to turn adverts off? Twitter’s Biz Stone has suggested Facebook could earn at least $12bn per year by offering users the option of signing up for an ads-free experience at a cost of $10 per month, i.e. Facebook could potentially earn three times more revenues from such a service than it reaped from advertising last year ($4.3bn). Stone based this on a minimum of 10% of Facebook’s 1.11bn user base ‘buying in’ to the option.

Speculating on exactly this at the turn of the year, London-based independent digital marketing agency, Greenlight, polled 500 people globally to gauge just how much they would be prepared to pay not to see ads when using Facebook. The data from Greenlight’s "Search & Social Survey (2012-2013)", showed 15% of users would be prepared to pay Facebook to see no ads with the majority of those, 8%, indicating they would be willing to spend between $5 and $10 per month.
So the question is, is it time Facebook thought about having an advert-free option?


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