Retailers boycotting Facebook are likely to see the biggest adverse effects as brand consideration drops by 25% and purchase intent by 8%, according to researchers at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.

The research also suggests auto manufacturers could expect their audience’s purchase motivations to drop by 13% and the perceived saliency of their brand to drop by 6%.

The claims are made in a study conducted by Jason Bell, Associate Professor of Marketing, Andrew Stephen, Associate Dean of Research and L’Oréal Professor of Marketing, and Felipe Thomaz, Associate Professor of Marketing, using a large dataset on advertising campaigns across industries provided by data and insights company Kantar. 

For disclosure reasons, it is worth pointing out that the school and Facebook have a prior research relationship, notably through the Future of Marketing Initiative, of which the social network is a partner. 

The researchers estimated the impacts on ad effectiveness of both the individual components of ad campaigns (channels like Facebook, TV, radio, magazines) and the complex interactions between them. Using their statistical models, they then estimated the impact on ad effectiveness of setting Facebook to zero while assuming that advertising spend is unchanged and with the Facebook spending reallocated proportionally across other media channels.

Professor Bell explains that ‘By removing Facebook from their media mixes, brands hurt their overall advertising effectiveness in the remaining channels.

“This is because Facebook ads seem to indirectly help make advertising in many other channels more effective. Facebook is like salt in cooking – where salt improves the flavour of other ingredients, Facebook advertising can help make other channels in a campaign more effective.”

Thus a TV or YouTube ad might register with a consumer when they’re not in a position to act on it, but a later Facebook or Instagram ad might reawaken that interest, “but now in a context with lower barriers to responding”.

While acknowledging – and agreeing – the rationale for the boycott, Professor Stephen noted that “from a purely commercial perspective, these findings suggest that pulling ads from Facebook will likely prove costly for brands.

“We feel this is something marketing executives should be aware of and factor in, especially during extremely difficult economic conditions.”

Sourced from Saïd Business School