The New York Times just published an Associated Press snippet under the extremely misleading headline "ComScore Study Says Facebook Ads Effective."
Larry passed me the link, and we both wondered briefly if Facebook had commissioned a study to "prove" that their ads are in fact effective (since our recent research suggests that Facebook ads are not effective compared to other online display ad networks).
However, if you read the story, it doesn't even appear to be about ads (emphases mine):
The report released Tuesday found that people who were fans of Starbucks and Target, or friends of those fans, were more likely to make a purchase than a control group that were not fans.
The comScore study comes a day after the research firm said that the number of unique visitors to Facebook's website is growing at a slower pace. And it's less than a month after Facebook had a disappointing debut as a public company.
The report was partly commissioned by Facebook, a client of comScore's. It was based on a panel of Internet users who agreed to participate in the study — a condition that can skew results.
Uhhhhh ... this has nothing whatsoever to do with the effectiveness of Facebook ads. These results basically say that fans of a brand are more likely to buy that brand's products than people who are not fans. As Larry said, "This is the ultimate duh study." Of course your fans are more likely to buy your products! That's why they're your fans. No one is questioning that. Fans are free. The question is whether companies get return on their advertising dollars.
The fact that Facebook didn't commission a study on the value of its display ads calls their effectiveness even more into question.
It also brings to mind the "So what" factor I just wrote about for Search Engine Journal. Why publish content that will surprise nobody?
Image via Sarah Deer