Broeck, Poelis and Walrave’s (2017) article ‘A Factorial Survey Study on the Influence of Advertising Place and the Use of Personal Data on User Acceptance of Facebook Ads’ featured in American Behavioural Scientist is an interesting look into how user engagement with the platform is studied when the most valid data required to provide the most valid results such as primary user analytics is not available. This Factorial Survey required vignettes that recreated advertisements for the purpose of the observation of dependent variables that are outlined within the article as ‘six dimensions’ that inform a multilevel analysis from which conclusions are drawn.
To summate the conclusions, this study found that ‘placement of the ad in the sidebar led to better user acceptance in comparison with advertisements placed in the message stream.
After reading this article the question must be asked, ‘Does this provide sufficient evidence to inform advertising investment?’, the short answer… no.
There are a number of key points that this article fails to address. Facebook has nearly to 2 billion active users each month with the Social Networking Site (SNS) available on all computer and mobile platforms (Kemp, 2017). This article implied that the study was completed for Facebook use on a desktop site – which I found quite presumptuous to not mention, opting to instead assume readers understand this fact.
The vignettes used within the factorial survey appear to be well constructed with the ‘perceived risks’ dimension needed further analysis. What is it about an energy company using low/high sensitive user information verse an entertainment company’s use of low/high sensitive information for 18-year olds who are the highest Facebook user demographic? There was an opportunity to assess or further unpack the reasoning for the selected vignettes and the conclusion validity.
The Overlooked 95%
Facebook penetration at an all-time high with 95% active account accessed via smartphones. If 95% of total monthly Facebook users access the SNS on their mobile device – the findings within this article do not reflect the approximate 1.6 billion users who do not view sidebar advertisements.
The big questions
Is a factorial survey the best source forward for drawing conclusions on how users interact with and respond to Facebook advertising? The amounts of data collected by Facebook are claimed to have the sophistication of ‘knowing more than your therapist’ (Monnappa, 2017). So the big question must be asked, has this study already been completed by Facebook? And if so, do the current iterations of Facebook reflect these findings?
Broeck, E. V. D., Poels, K., & Walrave, M. (2017). A Factorial Survey Study on the Influence of Advertising Place and the Use of Personal Data on User Acceptance of Facebook Ads. American Behavioral Scientist, 61(7), 653-671.
Kemp, S. (2017). Startling truths about Facebook – We Are Social. Retrieved March 7, 2018, from https://wearesocial.com/blog/2017/08/startling-truths-facebook
Monnappa, A. (2017). How Facebook is Using Big Data: Good, Bad & the Ugly – Simplilearn. Retrieved March 4, 2018, from https://www.simplilearn.com/how-facebook-is-using-big-data-article