updated 03:28 pm EDT, Tue June 5, 2012
Four out of five users never buy from Facebook ads: poll
A new Reuters/Ipsos poll has found that only one out of five Facebook users has ever bought a product or service as a result of advertising or comments on Facebook. The survey also found troubling trends emerging in Facebook user engagement, as more than a third of users said they were spending less time on the site than in the past. The new poll adds to what some call troubling indicators for the world's largest social network site, which has struggled recently to assure investors of the soundness of its revenue-generating model.
Between May 31 and June 4, the online poll asked 1,032 Americans about their behaviors on the social network. Twenty-one percent of respondents indicated that they did not have a Facebook account. Among Facebook users, four out of five said they had never bought a product or service as a result of Facebook ads or comments. Further, the study found that 34 percent of users were spending less time on the site than they had six months ago, while only 20 percent said they were spending more time.
While the survey's findings could signal trouble on the horizon for Facebook, looking at them from another angle could yield a more positive interpretation. The results mean that one out of five Facebook users does buy items through the site. Similarly, the survey's engagement findings showed about 40 percent of users visiting the site every day. Extrapolated across the site's massive user base, that means hundreds of millions of regular users willing to pay for goods and services through the site.
The survey's findings may also represent something of an improvement over earlier studies. An AP-CNBC poll earlier in May found only four percent of Facebook users clicking on ads, along with widespread distrust of the site as a platform for buying goods and services. The AP-CNBC poll, though, focused solely on ads, not on ads and comments from friends as in this most recent survey. As such, it is difficult to tell how much of an improvement the new survey's results represent.
The negative aspects of the survey's results loom large, especially in light of the social network's recent troubles in its advertising efforts.
Perhaps just as troubling, Facebook's beleaguered IPO and subsequent stock slide have had a negative impact on the company's brand perception, according to the Reuters/Ipsos survey, which found that the troubled IPO made 46 percent of respondents less favorable toward investing not just in Facebook, but in the stock market in general.