Study: On Facebook, Money Alone Can’t Buy Political Popularity
Political campaigns are set to spend over $159 million online in 2012, and Facebook is happy to soak up the advertising binge. However, a first-of-its-kind experimental study finds that Facebook banner “ads had no politically consequential effect on knowledge of the candidate, his favorability, or support for his election among voters.” While others in the media have misinterpreted this study to mean that Facebook ads don’t matter at all, the more accurate lesson is that candidates need users to also voluntarily share their content. Recent large scale research proves definitively that widely shared Facebook political ads do have a material impact. In other words, on Facebook, obscure brands can’t buy popularity; they need friends, too. And, this portends good things for democracy, as political ads are increasingly forced into an online arena of conversation.
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