Survey: Gauging Consumer Opinions on Paid Social Media Ads

The dedicated Marketing Team at NZD Securities, Inc. surveyed over 5,000 EU & US consumers between the ages of 18-55 to learn more about their experiences, sentiments, and behaviours when served paid ads on social media platforms.

We wanted to get a better sense of consumers’ perceptions around brand authenticity as it relates to paid social, and what role organic social plays in that perception; the role that paid social plays in their purchasing cycle; and overall consumer awareness of what’s paid vs. organic content.

Here are some chief findings:

Where They See and Why They React to Paid Ads:

  • The Social Media Channel on which they’re most likely to click on an ad:
    • Facebook:           38%
    • Instagram:          37%
    • YouTube:           14%
    • Twitter:               5%
    • Pinterest:           4%
    • LinkedIn:             2%
  • Main Feed ads trump ads popping up in Stories with 70% saying they are more likely to click on ads in their main news feed.
  • 65% say they like that social media ads show them products that they are interested in and wouldn’t have found otherwise. 31% like the presence of ads so they won’t have to pay for using their social channels they enjoy.      
  • 36% say discounts are the biggest motivation to buy a product. 33% say the actual product is what moves them to make a purchase. 17% claim it’s how the product is marketed.
  • 61% don’t mind ads that target them by demographic. 39% don’t like that practice at all – with 24% of those saying it’s actually “creepy.”

Buying Behavior:

  • 69% want to visit a company’s website before buying a product off of their social feed.
  • Only 10% will just click and buy a product. And 21% say they will never buy through a social media ad.
  • 69% say they will buy from an unknown brand if they like the product. 18% say they must know the brand.

Celebrity or Influencer Endorsements:

  • 51% will purchase from a celebrity or influencer endorsed brand – with 8% making the purchase even if they have no interest in the product!
  • 37% say celebrities or influencers have no impact on their purchasing decisions.
  • 56% question the authenticity of a celebrity or influencer endorsement. 43% could care less.

Advertising Transparency:

  • 35% are suspect when a #Ad or #Sponsored Content tag appears in a post and view it as a fake endorsement. 28% appreciate seeing that transparency. And 37% click-through or make a purchase no matter what – as long as they like the product.

Advertising Frequency:

  • 75% say ads have taken over their feeds. 25% say their feeds are well balanced.
  • Of those surveyed, 46% say they are served up 1-5 ads a day. 26% say 5-20, and 13% say they receive more than 20 ads a day on their feeds.

Biggest Turn-offs When It Comes to Social Media Ads:

  • The biggest turn off when it comes to social media ads:
    • 28% say when they have no interest in the product
    • 27% say ads that use audio
    • 23% say similar ads that keep following them once they click on an ad once.
    • 16% say it’s getting more ads than content from family and friends.
    • 6% say they hate that the more they buy – the more ads they get. 


Which social media platform are you most likely to click an ad on?

  • 37% responded Instagram
  • 37% responded Facebook
  • 13% responded Youtube
  • 4% responded Twitter
  • 4% responded to Pinterest
  • 2 % responded LinkedIn

For platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook, are you more likely to click on ads that appear in a media channel’s main feed or when it appears within the “story” feature?

  • 70% responded that they are more likely to click on ads that appear in a media channel’s main feed.
  • 29% of people who responded stated that they are more likely to click on ads that appear within the “story” feature on a social channel.

What type of social ads do you enjoy the most?

  • 31% said they enjoyed video ads the most
  • 25% of the respondents said they enjoy eye-catching ads
  • 22% prefer seeing product ads with a Shop Now Feature
  • 10% of the respondents enjoy seeing event teaser social ads
  • 6% answered that they enjoy seeing carousel social ads that tell a story or show a few products
  • 3% of respondents answered they enjoy seeing social ads that feature influencers or celebrities they follow.

How do you feel about ads targeting you by your demographics?

  • 31% of respondents answered that ads targeting them by demographics do not bother them.
  • 29% answered if targeting by demographic results in better, more relevant ads, they are all for it.
  • 23% felt that ads targeting by demographics is a creepy way of advertising
  • 15% responded that they don’t like being targeted based on their race or gender

When you see a paid-ad on social media that catches your interest, which are you most likely to do:

  • 42% answered that the first thing they do when a paid as on social media catches their interest is that they visit the company’s social media profile and browse around to learn more about them and their products first. 
  • 26% of the respondents answered that when a paid ad on social media catches their eye, they visit the company’s social media profile and look at what customers think about them before buying.
  • 21% answered that they never buy anything they see advertised on their social feeds
  • 10% of the respondents answered that when they see a paid social ad on social media they click on it and make a purchase of the product right then and there.

Are you more likely to click on a paid ad from a brand that you know vs. an unknown or unnamed brand?

  • 48% answered that as long as they like the content, they will click on an ad from an unknown brand to learn more about them
  • 18% of the respondents answered that they will only click on an ad for a brand they already know.
  • 12% answered that they will never click on ads shown to them on social media
  • 12% answered that they do not pay attention to the brand names of the ads they click on
  • 8 % of the respondents answered that if they like the product, they will buy it whether they know the brand or not.

Would you click on an unknown brand’s ad that shows a celebrity or influencer you trust?

  • 36% responded, No, they could care less what the celebrities or influencers are endorsing
  • 32% stated that they would click on an unknown brands ad, only if it’s a product that they are interested in anyway.
  • 12% answered that they would not click on an unknown brands ad that shows a celebrity they trusted.
  • 10% answered they would click on an unknown brands ad if it showed a celebrity that they liked.
  • 7% of respondents answered that they would click on an unknown brand as that featured a celebrity they trusted

When you see an ad featuring a celebrity or influencer, do you look at that celebrity or influencer’s personal account to see if they are promoting the product organically as well?

  • 43% answered that they do not look at the celebrity or influencers account, them sharing it organically doesn’t matter to them really.
  • 25% stated that they look at the celebrity or influencer’s personal account. It plays a big role in gaining my trust if the celebrity or influencer really does believe in the product and makes that clear on their feed.
  • 17% respondents stated they get confused into wondering if the celebrity or influencer likes the product or service or if they are just being paid to endorse it.
  • 13% of the respondents stated they don’t check their organic profile, but they do check to see if there is a tag that says it’s a sponsored post

Does the “#ad” in a sponsored post’s caption affect your view of a product?

  • 36% answered No. Ad or not, if they like the product, they like the product.
  • 27% stated that they are just happy they are being transparent
  • 21% of the respondents said yes, when they see #ad, they know to just keep scrolling through their feed
  • 14% said that’s how they know if it’s a fake endorsement of a product.

How many social media ads would you say you notice on any given day?

  • 45% responded that they receive about 1-5 ads a day
  • 26% answered that they see 5-20 ads a day
  • 15% of the respondents said they don’t really notice how many ads they are served on a given day
  • 12% answered they see well over 20 ads a day

Are social media ads taking over your feed?

  • 30% of respondents feel as their news feeds are full of ads 
  • 29% answered that they feel like they see fewer posts from my friends and more ads.
  • 24% of the respondents feel as if their feed is well balanced
  • 10% answered that they do feel as they are being served more ads, but are okay with it because it’s their new way to shop
  • 4% said they are being served a ton of ads, but they find it entertaining and like it

What feature attracts you most to a social media ad?

  • 36% said that when the ad offers a discounted product
  • 33% answered that they are amazed on how a company knows what they like
  • 17% said that the wording or headline used in ad attracts them the most
  • 13% they are most attracted to an ad when a celebrity or influencer are featured in the ad

What feature turns you off most to a social media ad?

  • 27% of respondents answered when the product or service being advertised is nothing they are interested in
  • 26% said when the ad autoruns audio or an announcer
  • 22% don’t like when a recently searched products pops up in an ad on their feed
  • 16% said they don’t like that they are served more ads then family and friends’ content
  • 6% stated that the more they buy from these ads they feel like more ads start to appear on their feed.

What overall do you like most about social media ads?

  •  45% answered that social media ads have introduced them to new products and services that are out there, that they wouldn’t have found otherwise
  • 30% said that social ads keep social media platforms fee-free.
  • 20% said that they like seeing ads of products and services that they are genuinely interested in
  • 3% feel that social media ads make life easier

What do you think about Facebook’s discriminatory practices of targeting people with job, houses and loan ads that include specific demographic info and their recent announcement they would stop doing it?

  • 40% answered that they despise any form of advertising that discriminates
  • 36% responded that they obviously know that they are misusing our information, otherwise they wouldn’t change the policy.
  • 22% answered all these issues are just growing pains for social media advertising industry which is fairly new and still being formed

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