Facebook Ads: Nobody’s Really Persuaded to Buy Stuff

    June 5, 2012

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has announced it’s considering adding Mark Zuckerberg’s trademark grin to the list of endangered species, the agency said in a statement today. Public sightings and documentation of his grin in the wild have diminished significantly over the past several weeks, owing to citing the Facebook CEO’s increased strife and scrutiny following his company’s shabby initial public offering. The agency is concerned that the over-hunting for the once-flourishing Zuckerberg grins will endanger the future sustainability of the expression’s survival.*

Aside from being blamed for Facebook’s famously bad IPO and being sued for possibly pulling a Martha Stewart-style stock dump to save his financial interests, Zuckerberg’s widely used online social networking business may be faltering, according to a new poll from Reuters/Ipsos.

The poll found that four out of five Facebook users have never been enticed to make a purchase of a product or service due to advertisements or user comments on the site. General Motors’ decision to pull its paid advertisements from Facebook last month seems to corroborate this finding. The automotive company said the reason it was pulling the ads was because, simply put, they didn’t believe the ads worked.

Facebook’s struggled to convince marketers that ads on the site actually do work, but what’s worse is that it’s going to be hard for Facebook to improve the efficiency of its advertising services if people are spending less time on the site, which appears to be the latest Thing to Worry About for Zuckerberg and Company. Another troubling finding to come from the survey: 34% of Facebookers said they were spending less time on the site compared to six months ago; only 20% of users said that they were spending more time there. Of the people who were spending less time on the site, the biggest reason they cited for visiting less was that the site is “boring, “not relevant,” or “not useful.”

It would appear that people kinda miss having that direct contact to other Facebook users and aren’t so keen on this voyeuristic hyper-social direction that Facebook has taken with the implementation of auto-posting apps for activities like social readers and Zynga games. Adding to Facebook’s waning relevancy is the fact that simply friending or following a person or page isn’t even a real guarantee that you’ll be a party to their updates.

While that still leaves just shy of 6 million users visiting the site at least as much as usual (if not more), if Facebook was having trouble encouraging 9 million people to engage those advertisements, the prospects of convincing a two-thirds of that number to do so isn’t exactly the most promising endeavor.

The company’s IPO hasn’t done much to win any favorability among users, either, as some people think that it seems to have broken the stock market as 46% said Facebook’s IPO has made them less favorable of investing in the stock market in general. Since the company’s IPO on May 18, shares have declined 29% and currently hover just below $27.00, $11 lower than the company’s IPO price of $38. It’s one thing to take down advertisers in Facebook’s slow, Crisco’ed slide down into Lonesome Town, but it’s another thing to drag down one of the biggest institutions of capitalism. Who knew such a thing were possible?

While the IPO hasn’t done Facebook any favors, the general pall that’s growing over the company is that it’s being viewed as a business now and less like a personal communication tool. Perhaps it’s become apparent to Facebook users that they are nothing more than a product or currency for the company and, better late than never, have realized they aren’t so comfortable with being commodified like that.

*This statement from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is actually completely made up.