LONDON: Only 7% of British internet users belonging to social networking websites have registered to receive information about brands or products, while just 5% have joined groups that are sponsored by advertisers.

While social media websites are becoming increasingly popular among consumers and advertisers, many brand owners have found it challenging to successfully plan and execute campaigns via such a fledgling medium.

Based on a survey of almost 2,000 consumers in the UK by Opinion Matters, the IAB found a minority of 5% disliked receiving communications from brands via social media, with 16% saying the same for ads they deemed to be irrelevant.

Furthermore, a total of just 3% of participants argued they would rather pay to join such sites than have free access and be exposed to advertising.

Some 17% also had a "widget" sponsored by a brand on their "profile page", while 15% had a similar tool installed on their computer desktop.

In terms of their favoured form of advertiser activity, 12% of those surveyed cited banner ads, compared with 11% preferring free music downloads, with "sponsored gifts" scoring 9%, and accessing free or exclusive content posting 8%.

Over half of the UK population are members of a social media site according to the IAB, with around 50% of this group belonging to more than one such portal, and the same number logging on to domains like Facebook or Twitter at least once a day.

A quarter of respondents also said they accessed social media sites via their mobile phones, including 44% of 16–24 year olds, compared with just 17% of the over-55 age group.

Data sourced from Media Guardian/NetImperative; additional content by WARC staff