Ethnicity affects social media ads

12 December 2012

NEW YORK: US consumer attitudes towards advertising on social media are continuing to evolve with distinct differences between ethnic groups, a new study has found.

Nielsen's Social Media Report 2012 says that while a third of social media users find ads on social networking sites more annoying than other online ads, some 26% don't mind seeing tailored ads based on their individual profile information.

A similar proportion is also more likely to pay attention to an ad that has been posted by an acquaintance, suggesting that social Likes can be a good way to raise brand visibility.

The research also looked at the actions taken by users after seeing social ads: 26% Liked them, 14% went on to share them, while 14% moved to actual purchase.

Those topline figures hide some significant cultural differences, however, with white consumers least likely to take any action and Asian-Americans most likely to.

On 31%, the latter group is more than twice as likely as the average to make a purchase. And they are also significantly more likely to Like (41%) and to share (26%) ads.

Hispanics are also more engaged than the average, with 22% moving to purchase, 32% Liking ads and 21% sharing them.

African-Americans are closer to the overall average, as 18% buy products after seeing a social ad, with 29% Liking and 18% sharing them.

A further breakdown examines the nature of the purchases made, with the most popular action taken being the purchase of a coupon through a daily deal or retailer site. This was undertaken by 28% of Asian-Americans and 19% of Hispanics, compared to 18% of African-Americans and 16% of whites.

Nielsen concludes that social media platforms can become more and more like traditional, ad-supported media as attitudes towards advertisements evolve, and ads become more accepted based on consumers' responsiveness level. 

Data sourced from Nielsen; additional content by Warc staff