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Would you or wouldn't you click on a Facebook ad?

Would you or wouldn't you click on a Facebook ad?

Posting in Technology

Slightly less than half of us almost never choose to look at a sponsored Facebook ad, but that doesn't necessarily mean companies should abandon the practice.

Generally speaking, I almost never click on the ads served up on my personal Facebook profile page.

There, I've admitted something that no business really wants to hear, and that Facebook REALLY doesn't want to hear, now that it has gone public.

I make this declaration because I have been reading the results of a survey just completed by London-based digital marketing agency Greenlight. Approximately 44 percent of the respondents of a recent survey by the company said they would never click on sponsored ads that crop up on their Facebook accounts.

This isn't really a shock to many people, I suppose, especially since we have been increasingly programmed not to click on links that could lead to malware or other nefarious content.

General Motors figured out that something wasn't working with its own Facebook advertising spend, pulling its funding for that part of its social network investment shortly before the Facebook IPO earlier this month. Mind you, that doesn't mean it is abandoning Facebook, it just means it is putting its money into different activities.

The Greenlight data is part of its "Search & Social Survey (2011 - 2012)," which covered 500 people ranging from students to law enforcement professionals to accountants.

The study found that 10 percent of the respondents DID interact with sponsored listings on Facebook "often," while 3 percent clicked on them "regularly." So, in the scheme of things, that is more of a quantifiable result than a company could reasonably expect from other lead-generation sources. If a Facebook ad is reaching 10,000 people, for example, the conversion rates are still pretty impressive.

"For Greenlight and many other agencies and brands, advertising on Facebook has become part of the 'usual mix'," said Hannah Kimuyu, director of paid media at Greenlight, in a statement. "We specifically saw our Facebook investment (client media spend) overtake both Yahoo and Bing collectively at the start of 2011, hinting the channel has constant growth and is delivering a strong enough return to invest more."

According to Greenlight, the most effective format for businesses advertising on Facebook is the sponsored story.

Even though sponsored advertising may seem to have a relatively low response rate, recommendations from people who have "liked" a company's Facebook page are one of the most trusted forms of "advertising" around.

Approximately 92 percent of the 28,000 respondents to Nielsen's "Global Trust in Advertising" report said that they trusted this form of advertising more than any other form of marketing when the recommendations came from family or friends. About 70 percent of the respondents "trust completely or somewhat" reviews and opinions of other consumers posted online.

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure