While Facebook gives advertisers the tools to reach highly specific audiences, it doesn't tell them much about how each of those audiences prefers to interact with advertisers. A new study from Socialcode, a Washington, DC-based agency that specializes in Facebook advertising, shows that age and gender play a significant role.
Older users are more likely to click through Facebook advertisements, whereas younger ones are more apt to "like" fan pages, the study said.
Users over 50 were 23 percent more likely to click through an ad than all younger age groups, according to the study. Compared with the highly coveted 18 to 29 age group, that percentage rises to 28 percent.
The 50-plus group, which was the oldest group included in the study, was also about 9 percent less likely to "like" a page than any other group.
Gender played a role as well, at least for click-through rates. Women were 11 percent more likely to click through than men were, though both genders "liked" pages at approximately the same rates.
"In general, younger Facebook users are more comfortable using the 'Like' button than older users at this point," Laura O'Shaughnessy, CEO of SocialCode, said in a press release. "With inline fan ads on Facebook, older users have a high level of interaction and curiosity about the ads as evidenced by their high CTRs, whereas younger users have a higher propensity to click the 'Like' button right in an ad on Facebook."
The social element of Facebook ads likely influenced the findings as well, O'Shaughnessy said.
"We've seen that while older users are joining Facebook in droves, they are still new and don't have as many friends as younger users who have been using it for a long time," she wrote in an e-mail message. "Some of Facebook's most powerful ads have a social component – e.g. 'Laura O'Shaughnessy and X other friends like this.' When a Facebook user has fewer friends, they have less opportunity for social context as a result."
The study, which took place over 10 months, examined four million "data points" for ads that included a 'Like' button.
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Douglas Quenqua is a journalist based in Brooklyn, NY who writes about culture and technology. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, The New York Observer, and Fortune.
March 19, 2014